Announcing Parallels: Freeplay’s 2017 Showcase!

Announcing Parallels: Freeplay’s 2017 Showcase!

We’re excited to announce that Parallels is back this year and is officially part of Melbourne International Games Week! From the artsy, to the weird, to the provocative, to the punk. For over ten years, Freeplay Independent Games Festival has been exploring these vital margins of games culture in Melbourne and Australia, from bedroom coders, to artists exploring the possibilities of games, to game culture’s punk rockers and agitators. Parallels highlights some of the most intriguing, experimental, unique, and alternative games being made at the fringes of Melbourne and Australia’s independent games scene today. We are now a month away from our 2017 Parallels showcase! Come and watch as local designers demonstrate and play their creations live on stage, and discuss their influences and creative passions. Discover new games and game makers, and find out what makes them tick. We would love for you to join us on a journey to reveal the artistry and talent of Australia’s independent game makers. We have a very exciting lineup of games, including Wayward Strand by Ghost Pattern, Totem Teller by Grinning Pickle, and Action Loop by PlayReactive. We can’t wait to share it all with you! Check #Parallels17 on Twitter for our reveals. We’re very proud to have worked with Sydney-based Teja Godson on our Parallels visual branding. Teja did a fantastic job, and was an absolute pleasure to work with. We’d love for you to check out her work! Please book your tickets online, you don’t need to print them. Seats are limited so book soon! We have an early bird discount if you’re booking for two. Doors open at 6:45PM for a...
A very Freeplay update: New director and suite of events for 2017-18

A very Freeplay update: New director and suite of events for 2017-18

Today, we’re thrilled to share some exciting news with you! New Director of Freeplay First off, our very own Chad Toprak will be joining the Freeplay team as our new director, replacing Dan Golding who now serves on the Freeplay board. Chad is a game designer, curator, and academic, best known for his work with Hovergarden and more recently the Contours exhibition. Freeplay has worked with Chad numerous times in the past – in fact, Chad’s journey with Freeplay started back in 2009 as a festival volunteer! “I’m absolutely honoured to be joining Freeplay as the new director! The festival plays an important role, both to me personally and for our local games community,” says Chad. “Freeplay has been a cornerstone for emerging and experimental games, art, and playful culture in Melbourne and Australia since 2004. I’ve long admired Freeplay for its critical approach to game making and games culture, and I’m quite excited to give the festival a breath of fresh air and make exciting things happen!” Knowing Chad, we’ll be sure to see a super exciting new era of Freeplay with him at the helm. Suite of 2017-18 Events Secondly, we’re kicking off Freeplay with a suite of events. We’re proud to announce that we’ve partnered with the Contours team to co-present the 2017 Contours Exhibition, to be held at the Library at The Dock on August 15-27. The exhibition is split into two week-long sides; the first week of the exhibition explores “Not Quite Games”, games that don’t quite fit the popular understanding or expectation of what games are, while the second week focuses on “Personal...
Freeplay in 2017 – Updates, Changes, and Your Chance to Get Involved

Freeplay in 2017 – Updates, Changes, and Your Chance to Get Involved

Welcome to Freeplay for 2017! After a quiet 2016, which we used to build up the organisation behind the scenes, we’re going to have an exciting year. Let me update you on a few things we’ve been up to, and on our plans for the future. We’ve added some terrific people to the Freeplay board over the last year. Since we last made an announcement, we’ve had Nagle Accounting CPA Ben Chiverton join us as Treasurer, while technology and intellectual property lawyer James Patto, CG Spectrum College Marketing Manager Claire Merquita, and Dr. Helen Stuckey have all joined our board. We’re very lucky to have them all – in particular, Helen has had a long relationship with Freeplay, starting with our very earliest festivals, and it’s a pleasure to formally have her join us. That brings me to the next piece of news for Freeplay this year. After three years as Freeplay’s director, I’m stepping down from the role. It’s been an amazing time, but in keeping with Freeplay’s history as an organisation that builds the Australian games community, it’s time for new ideas and new voices. Since 2004, Freeplay has been led by Katharine Neil, Marcus Westbury, Paul Callaghan, Eve Penford, Katie Williams, and Lee Shang Lun. It’s been my privilege to add to what they’ve built, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. In my time as director, we had our huge ten-year anniversary festival over ten days in 2015, as well as expanding to a more year-round presence, including events in partnership with the Arts Centre Melbourne, Federation Square, The Wheeler Centre, Melbourne Writers...

Freeplay in 2016

After our biggest festival and biggest year ever in 2015 — ten days! — this year, we’re doing things a little differently. The festival as an organisation is evolving, and that means that instead of focussing on our annual festival bringing together game-makers, artists, critics, and players for a weekend of talk and play, we’re going to do a series of stand-alone events across the whole year. This will help us restructure into something bigger, better, and stronger for the future, and we hope that we’ll be able to do lots of exciting things across the entire year as part of this shift. This doesn’t mean we’re going to forget about the festival — far from it, we’ve got big plans — but it does mean that for 2016, we’re seeing how we go with pushing our events across the full calendar year. So what’s happening in 2016? Well, first up, we can tell you about Composure: Game Music, a fantastic collaboration we’ve got happening with Arts Centre Melbourne focussing on videogames and music. It’s on Friday 29 April, and it’s free – grab your tickets here. Our panel of experts will include composer and musician Tim Shiel (composer for Duet and host of Something More on Double J & Triple J) as they discuss their experience in writing music for video games, and learn about their practice, and their creativity. We’ll also be running our Freeplay Awards in 2016 as its own event, and we’ll be opening for entries soon. Keep an eye out for our call for submissions. And finally, we’ll be running our successful Parallels Showcase for the third year running later in the year. We’re really excited about...

Important statement regarding Austin Wintory and Freeplay’s Symposium

Due to unforeseen and pressing circumstances, Austin Wintory, Freeplay’s 2015 keynote speaker, has had to return home to America immediately following his final Melbourne Symphony Orchestra performance on Saturday evening. This means that Austin will be unable to attend the festival in person. Despite this unfortunate situation, Austin has very kindly agreed to video a keynote address which we will play exclusively for our Symposium audience. This is the same address that he had prepared for our festival. We are also putting together a few other plans to make this session special for our audience despite Austin’s physical absence. Freeplay understands and that many people will have booked their Symposium tickets hoping to see Austin speak live and that this situation will be greatly disappointing. We hope that you will enjoy Austin’s recorded address, but we are also happy to offer refunds for Symposium tickets for any that choose not to attend the event as the result of this situation. If you wish to cancel your ticket and receive a refund, please email ticketing@freeplay.net.au. Otherwise, we’d like to thank our Freeplay audience for their patience and understanding, and we’d like to wish Austin all the...

Online Festival: The Last Few Days

Earlier this week our Online Festival came to a close. In case you missed them, here are the panels that happened in those last few days, archived for your convenience. Every panel from the Online Festival can be found here. If you’re in Melbourne, don’t forget we have in-person events happening all weekend, including tonight’s Board Games Up Late, Saturday’s fete and Hovergarden party, and Sunday’s unconference and symposium.   The Interview Game: Chris Johnson Journalist and former Freeplay Director Katie Williams interviews Adelaide-based game developer Chris Johnson while Chris plays some of his own games. They discuss Chris’s design philosophy and the tensions between commercial and artistic ambitions among other things.   Videogames and Indigenous Cultures Rae Johnson talks to Amy Fredeen (USA) and Alan Gershfeld (USA) about using videogames as a medium for telling the stories of Indigenous, Aboriginal, and First Nation communities around the globe. They discuss the process of creating the critically-acclaimed Never Alone, and both the importance and difficulty of conveying such culturally significant stories through videogames.   Collective Intelligence Members of a range of videogame and artist collectives from Australia and New Zealand discuss the advantages and difficulties of forming creative collectives, drawing from their own experiences and offering advice.   Games and War Dr. Malcolm Ryan talks to Hugh Davies, Dr. Helen Berents, Dan McMahon, and Stephen Coleman about the relationship between war and videogames, particularly in regards to ethics. Can videogames depict war in an ethical manner? How can a videogame speak meaningfully to the experiences of war? How do they get it wrong?   Curating For Diversity Academic, curator, and founder...

Online Festival: Weekend Panels

Our Online Festival continued over the weekend with a bunch of insightful panels. If you missed any of them, fear not! They are all archived on YouTube and you can watch them whenever you want. All videos of the Online Festival can be access on the Online Festival webpage, and all upcoming panels can be watched live on our homepage. Here is what went down this weekend: Romance and Queer Representation in Games Liam Esler (chair), Snow McNally, Alexander Ocias, Luke Miller, and Barbara Kerr discussed a range of fascinating subjects including why romance games have become so popular in recent years, just how explicit queer content should be, the importance of diverse representation, and whether its okay to depict revenge fantasies against bigots.   Watch This Game: Let’s Plays, Streaming, and the Future of Games Prescription Pixel, Emma Graham, and Brendan Keogh discuss the exploding world of video content, including the rise of Let’s Play videos and livestreaming. They discussed topics including the relationship between Youtubers and games journalism, being an internet celebrity, and issues facing Australian video content producers directly.   Self-Care For Game Developers Leena van Deventer, Natasha Katopodis, Francis Fitzgerald, and Laura Crawford talk about a range of ways that making games can be personally taxing, and explore ways to look after yourself and be both productive and healthy. Takeaways include take regular naps and put a whiteboard in the shower.   Games With Invisible Buttons Designers Christy Dena, Kate Raynes-Goldie, and Holly Gramazio (UK) discuss their various works that straddle digital and non-digital forms. Topics include designing site-specific games, parallels with the re-emergence of local multiplayer...

Online Festival: Australia From The Outside

Kicking off the Freeplay Online Festival last night, Siobhan Reddy (UK, MediaMolecule), Alex Hutchinson (Canada, Ubisoft Montreal), and Bennett Foddy (New York, Independent) discussed what it is like being an Australian games developer living overseas. They discussed topics including why they left, the geographical challenges facing game developers in Australia, whether there is such thing as an ‘Australian videogame’, and offered advice to other Australian developers taking the leap. Check out the Online Festival’s program for other panels that you can watch live from our homepage over the next week, or catch up on later via the YouTube...

Fast Five – Chris Johnson

In the lead up to this year’s festival, we’ve asked some of our speakers a set of Fast Five questions about their work and their thoughts on games in Australia. Today we have independent game designer Chris Johnson. Chris is currently developing Expand, and he will be both playing and speaking about his games as part of the Online Festival. What are you working on right now? I’m currently working on Expand. Readers might have seen an earlier version of the game at the Freeplay Arcade back in 2012 or maybe at PAX Australia last year. Expand is a game where you move through this ever shifting circular labyrinth. The game feels like you’re doing a sudoku puzzle and meditating at the same time. We’re currently in the trenches creating more content for the game. For Expand, content creation is the most time consuming and draining part of the development process. It’s also very rewarding seeing the game get closer and closer to being finished. What do you wish you worked on? Why? I wish I made a solid PuzzleScript game when that was new. I’ve taught a few people how to make games with PuzzleScript but haven’t made anything myself. I think the process of making something would help develop my skills in level design. Maybe I’m not thinking hard enough about this but I feel as though a lot of the simpler variations of PuzzleScript games have been made. So it’s now a process of being more creative since I really wouldn’t want to make a riff on someone else’s idea. What’s an Australian game, old or...