Freeplay is Australia’s longest-running and largest independent games festival, located in Melbourne, Australia. Freeplay draws Australia’s independent game community together at its conference, public events program, arcade, and awards. The festival joins players, makers, critics, artists, academics, and students for a critical celebration of the artistry of games and digital culture.
Since 2004, Freeplay has played host to thousands of attendees and hundreds of talks from speakers such as Harvey Smith (Deus Ex), Kieron Gillen (Rock, Paper, Shotgun), Jonathan Blow (Braid), Brandon Boyer (IGF chair), Adam Saltsman (Canabalt), Mare Sheppard (N+), Tesuya Mizaguchi (Rez), Erin Robinson (Gravity Ghost), and Steve Swink (Scale). Freeplay has a proud history of showcasing local independent games at both its arcade and awards, including Jolly Rover (Best Australian Game 2010), Antichamber (Best Australian Game 2011), Stickets (Best Australian Game 2012), and Framed (Best Australian Game 2013). Iconically-Melbourne, Freeplay has consistently been part of the city’s culture, having partnered with ACMI, the State Library of Victoria, Next Wave, The Wheeler Centre, and Federation Square over the years.
Dan Golding is a critic, journalist, and a sessional lecturer at The University of Melbourne, where he is currently completing a PhD. He has written about the intersection of videogames, art, and public policy for ABC Arts, Crikey, Metro Magazine, Hyper Magazine, and The Guardian, Meanjin, The Walkley Magazine, Kill Your Darlings, Kotaku, PC PowerPlay. In 2013, he won the ‘Best Games Journalist’ award at the 11th Annual Australian IT Journalism ‘Lizzie’ awards. Dan is also a co-founder and editor of publishing company Press Select. Dan is also a regular on the Triple R radio program Byte Into It.
Hugh Davies (Chair) is a senior lecturer in Media, Screen and Sound at La Trobe University, and is deputy director of the Centre for Creative Arts. Prior to assembling the Freeplay Board with former Executive Director Paul Callaghan, Hugh held a position on the board of the Australian Network for Art and Technology for six years, serving for two years as board chair. Hugh is the founder and creative director of Analogue Art Map, and works from his practice as an artist have been exhibited internationally. He is pursuing a PhD in transmedia gaming through Monash University.
Gideon Hornung (Vice Chair) is a senior strategist with over eight years’ experience in communications and digital strategy. Currently working for OMD, one of Australia’s largest media buying agencies, he works with a number of Australia’s leading brands across automotive, education and the insurance sector. With a passion for technology and consumer behaviour, Gideon also regularly lectures at RMIT on topics ranging from social media to the evolving media landscape.
Paul Gurney (Treasurer) is the Executive Director at Next Wave, one of Australia’s leading arts organisations for developing emerging arts practice. Prior to relocating to Victoria, Paul worked at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art assisting with the overall exhibition program. After graduating his degree in Arts Management (BA) from the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts in 2004, Paul joined the Exhibition Management Team at the National Gallery of Victoria, continuing on until January 2009. In addition to the NGV, Paul also volunteered as board member for Seventh Gallery Inc, Fitzroy from 2005 to 2007.
Cameron Rogers (Secretary) is a screen industries lawyer, specialising in film, television, transmedia projects, and the games industry. He is a founding board member of the Freeplay Independent Games Festival. Cam has acted for several games companies around Australia, including Tin Man Games, The Voxel Agents and Robot Circus, and is passionate about the future of the industry in Australia.
Vanessa Toholka is a knowledge management consultant for Minter Ellison, and previously worked in New Media and Digital Systems at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. She has over thirteen years experience working in online content and strategy, specialising in developing and producing digital applications in the education, media and legal industries. Vanessa is an announcer Triple R’s weekly technology and computing show Byte Into IT. She holds a Bachelor of Information Management (Hons) from Monash University.
Anna Burkey is a producer and cultural programmer, creating and driving high-quality programs. Anna works across the creative arts, but is particularly fond of books and reading. Her artistic roots lie in Edinburgh, the world’s largest festival city, and she’s fascinated by the way that stories translate across format, from illustration, words and books to games and technology. Currently, Anna is managing Reader Development for the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne, supporting the development of a new strand of family programming and heading up the national Centre for Youth Literature.
Robert Pulham is a Senior Associate within the Technology and Communications team at a global law firm in Melbourne. His day-to-day work involves a range of corporate and IT matters, including advising on large scale IT procurement and outsourcing, online marketing activity including spam and privacy related laws, telecommunications and intellectual property advice. Rob founded his own IT software company to program software for mobile devices, although his day to day work means this is currently only kept up as a hobby. Rob holds a Bachelor of Business Systems and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), both from Monash University.
Trent Kusters is the founder and director of indie game development collective League of Geeks and a lecturer at the Victorian College of the Arts. Previously, Trent was design director at Torus Games, consulted the film industry as well as state and federal governments on game development and design, has written on games culture for major publications, and was named one of Australia’s 25 top young achievers in 2010 by Triple J. Trent is also invested in the future of game development; fostering and mentoring students and contributing to the game development community wherever possible.
Jess Kilby is an artist, writer and game designer. She is the Pervasive Play Developer for Pop Up Playground – a Melbourne collective that makes physical, social games and playful experiences. Jess holds an MA in Creative Technology and a BA in Journalism, and was one of the first writers outside of the games press to cover ARGs and other ludic uses of emerging, social technologies. She is currently pursuing a PhD in public art through RMIT University.