Freeplay 2018 Conference


Morning Sessions (9am-1pm)
ACMI – Cinema 2

08:00am - Registration

Collect tickets from ACMI and lanyards + badges from the Freeplay desk

09:00am - Welcome to Freeplay
10:00am - Keynote: Auriea Harvey & Michaël Samyn
11:00am - Tim Colwill

Game Workers Unite – The Case For A Game Union In Australia

For years, workers in video games have convinced themselves that overtime, crunch, poor pay, and terrible conditions were simply a fundamental part of our industry. As the world slides further into inequality, a growing social movement seeks to push back against this idea that workers need to suffer to succeed. This talk canvasses the state of the Australian games industry from an industrial relations perspective, takes a practical look at what a union could achieve for game workers in Australia, and provides a roadmap to establishing a body that represents the interests of Australian game workers.

12:00pm - Yoko Akama

kokoro of design (デザインの心)

Imagine for a moment, the sparse, inky brushstrokes that depict a fishing boat in the midst of rippling waters, and how this can awaken, for the beholder, a sense of the vastness of the sea and at the same time of peace and contentment. This talk shares ways of being, knowing and becoming, and invites you to experience this with me.

Afternoon Sessions (2pm-5pm)
ACMI – Studio 1

01:00pm - Lunch
02:00pm - Gemma Mahadeo & Rory Green

Poetry and Play

What do poems about video games look like? Is writing a kind of game in itself? Can you 100% poetry? Writers Gemma Mahadeo and Rory Green talk about the crossroads of video games and literature, the importance of playing games to their writing practices, and share recent projects that combine these playful worlds.

02:45pm - Troy Innocent, Hugh Davies, David Harris + more TBC

Playable Cities Now

While discussion of pervasive games often focuses on activities in Scandinavia and the US, this panel will explore contemporary phenomena of pervasive games as found in Europe and Asia. They often intersect and push against other fields and disciplines such as urban design, public art, theatre, architecture and social policy – presenting both challenges and creative opportunities for game designers. In doing so, they decode and make visible social, economic, political, spatial and urban codes that define the rules and systems of cities. The panelists, each with recent and relevant experience in pervasive games, will share information and opportunities on these game types as they are currently evolving internationally. Topics of discussion will include locative games, wayfaring, urban play, playable cities, wayfinding, alternate realities, historical influences and future trajectories.

03:30pm - Jody Toomey

Game Audio and The Sonic Palette

A game’s sounds is often one its most memorable aspects. From great dialogue and characters to sounds that give the player nightmares the audio brings the game to life. This talk will look at the history and evolution of game audio and, with the help of some classic game characters investigate how the concept of the Sonic Palette can shape a games sound.

04:15pm - Jim Fishwick

Make Thing Go Whoosh

Be chased through a maze. Turn into a rhinoceros. Waste away on a rowboat. Commit an audacious art heist. These are all experiences offered by Sydney’s Jetpack Theatre Collective, who blend immersive theatre, improvisation and game design to create unique, bespoke adventures. This freewheeling talk will explore the principles and processes that go into creating these sorts of boundary-pushing works.

Afternoon Sessions (2pm-5pm)
ACMI – The Cube
programmed by Amani Naseem


01:00pm - Lunch
02:00pm - Arika Waulu

Working Under Occupation

Join sovereign multimedia experimentalist and community activator Arika Waulu as they discuss their lived experience making work in stolen country.

02:45pm - Ngoc Vu

I Just Tan In This “Sunburnt” Country

What does it mean to create videogames on occupied Wurundjeri and Boonwurung land? This talk considers the entanglements of identity and geography in the process of creating Necrobarista, an anime style visual novel game based in Melbourne.

03:30pm - Azja Kulpińska

Wild Tongue

This talk will consider the two very different contexts in which Wild Tongue vol. 1 and vol. 2 were created and how they impacted our creative process. What were the differences between working independently on the first volume, and then within a large art festival for vol. 2? How did we create our own terms within the constraints of a major arts festival on stolen land? I will also present selected readings from the two volumes of the zine.

04:15pm - Ripley Kavara

Reparation/Representation: Whats Real?

This presentation will discuss working on the occupied land of the Wurundjeri and Boonwurung peoples as an artist and event producer. What methods and processes can we take in our everyday work and lives to create real tangible change towards the decolonisation of so called “Australia”? What is the role of art and music in disrupting and creating discourse for change?

Afternoon Sessions (2pm-5pm)
ACMI – Lightwell

01:00pm - Lunch
02:00pm - Gabriella Lowgren

Playing Mental Illness

Mental health is a topic that is being raised increasingly in both video games and their communities. This talk will aim to discuss the unique benefits of video games covering this often sensitive subject matter versus more traditional forms of media such as television, movies and literature. Beyond that, Gabriella will critically examine Shrinking Pains to better explore how sufferers can create content that explores nuanced issues and illnesses in a way that promotes empathy and understanding.

02:30pm - Sav Ferguson

Critiquing Queer Devs

Sav Ferguson will be talking about the double standard of reviewing and critiquing games made by LGBTQIA+ developers and some tricks and tips to do so respectfully.

03:00pm - Charlie Francis Cassidy

Creating and Releasing ‘In My Mind’

In My Mind is a small games experience designed to represent what it can be like living with bipolar, anxiety and a number of other mental health related things. This game is very much based on Charlie’s experiences with mental illness and was made to represent what it’s like being in their head day to day. To do this they took 66 blog posts from a blog they’ve kept since being diagnosed and wrote some code to pull it down and process it into the games format. As a further accessibility feature, they took those posts and wrote a system that allows players to filter out any potentially triggering content they may come across. Charlie wants to share the difficulties and successes they had working on and releasing such a personal game, and how they handled the reception of something so close to their heart and life. This talk will be a combination of design processes, some technical details and the emotional journey it took them on.

03:30pm - Jonathan Swanson

Developing the Art of The Gardens Between

The Gardens Between is an upcoming narrative-based puzzle game by The Voxel Agents in Melbourne, recently nominated for the 2018 IGF Excellence in Visual Art award. From humble beginnings as a 2D prototype based on the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the game’s aesthetic direction has drastically evolved throughout the course of its three year development. In this talk, Jonathan explores the how the early influences of contemporary illustration, landscape garden design and the natural world have combined to create the game’s unique visual style, as well as shares some of the technical, communicative and aesthetic hurdles that the team has encountered along the way.

04:00pm - Alexander Swords

Negotiation, Experience & Aftercare in Game Development

Negotiation, experience and aftercare are the fundamental principles that define our relationships with each other as emotional human beings, and yet it is obvious from the calls for change across the community that as a society we’re failing at keeping these critical issues of consent, care and respect that they provide at the centre of all that we do. This session will introduce the model and how it can be applied to the designer/player relationship in a broad way for better outcomes for developers, audiences and our community.

04:30pm - Lucy Mutimer

Diaries, Style Guides, & Design Theory Oh My!: 10 Things I learnt from freelance that help me make game art

In this talk join former freelance creative and current Ultimerse concept artist/graphic designer Lucy Mutimer as she shares ten lessons she learnt from the trenches of her freelance career and how they help her day-to-day in her work in the gaming industry.

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Morning Sessions (9am-1pm)
ACMI – Cinema 2

08:00am - Registration

Collect tickets from ACMI and lanyards + badges from the Freeplay desk

09:30am - Welcome Back
10:00am - Keynote: Zuraida Buter
11:00am - Alayna Cole & Jess Zammit

What We Think of Diversity

Queerly Represent Me has now conducted three annual surveys, hearing from more than 6,500 people about their views on diversity and representation in games. Independent games are making huge steps in this space, and leaving AAA titles in the dust. Join us for our first public chat about the 2018 survey results, and what they mean for our understanding of audiences and in-game diversity.

12:00pm - Bennett Foddy & Lee Shang Lun

In Conversation with Bennett Foddy

Game maker Bennett Foddy is best known for his humorous physics-based videogames like QWOP, GIRP, and his recent hit Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy. Though he is now a professor at NYU in New York City, Bennett was raised here in Melbourne, where he studied philosophy and played with Grammy-nominated Australian band Cut Copy. In this session, local game designer Lee Shang Lun will interview Bennett live on stage and discuss his Melbourne upbringing, as well as his perspective on the current state of independent games.

Afternoon Sessions (2pm-5pm)
ACMI – Studio 1

01:00pm - Lunch
02:00pm - Hien Pham

Graphic Novelty: Putting Games Into Your Comics & Vice Versa

Comics is a storytelling medium. Games can also be a storytelling medium. What happens if the two are combined together? Graphic Novelty: Putting Games Into Your Comics & Vice Versa explores the technical and cultural intersections between these art forms. With examples of what has been done and what hasn’t, the talk will give you an extra tool to explore the ever-expanding horizon of modern storytelling.

02:45pm - Rose Katic

Fashion in a Digital World

Gaming and fashion, how two seemingly opposite industries can come together to explore new a narrative in visual storytelling and personal expression.

03:30pm - Paul Callaghan

A Signal Thread

From festivals to museums to galleries to performance spaces, cultural infrastructure aims to create scaffolding and structure to support people and their practice. This talk explores the global influence of contemporary games infrastructure, its relationship to local scenes, and what can be learned from other creative fields.

04:15pm - Mohamed Chamas, Jennifer Reuter, Erika Verkaaik, Alexander Bennetts, Jess Reddi Coronell, Olivia Haines, Alison Huang & Sofie Mather

Micro-talk Series: What It Means To Be Me

Eight speakers, 20 slides each, 15 seconds per slide, all automated. Come and listen to some of Australia’s most talented emerging artists as they talk about what it means to be them. Listen to them speak about their work, their passions and their journey.

Afternoon Sessions (2pm-5pm)
ACMI – The Cube

01:00pm - Lunch
02:00pm - Ruth Bosch, Farah Khalaf, Lexie Mason-Davis, David Kalina, Cecile Richard

Panel: Moving to Melbourne

What’s it like to move countries for a job in and around gamedev? Hear our panelists talk about their Dos and Don’ts on starting a new professional as well as personal life chapter in a different country.

02:45pm - Su-Yiin Lai

Architecture, Games

Architecture and games share many similarities, but discussion of about what they contribute to each other is often one sided. “Architecture, Games” investigates what games as a medium might be able to contribute to architecture and architectural practice, both in the realms of the real and the speculative.

03:30pm - Brendan Keogh

How I Made 30 Games In A Year And You Possibly Could As Well, Maybe

In 2017, after years of writing about videogames, Brendan Keogh decided it was time to figure out how to actually make them. He set himself the modest goal of making 50 games before the end of the year, and got to work. This talk is a reflection on the lessons learned from this experiment, the importance of making small trashy videogames, and what tools and processes made it easier to get started.


04:15pm - Alexander Muscat

Crafting Ambiguous Worlds

How can we create worlds that we explore but do not fully understand? This talk discusses WORLD4, a multi-view exploration game where players explore a layered abstract world; which presents ways of thinking about spatial ambiguity as a way to compel curious exploration.

Afternoon Sessions (2pm-5pm)
ACMI – Lightwell

01:00pm - Lunch
02:00pm - Georgia Symons

Vitamin Supplements, Hard Drugs

The experience economy has produced a wide spectrum of immersive works, from theatre to escape rooms to VR games. Why do we want to “immerse” audiences? And what are audiences seeking from this kind of work?

02:30pm - Katie Stegs & Louis Roots


How does fear impact our industry and what can we do about it? Katie Stegs and Louis Roots discuss intimidation as a factor in their work and how they deconstruct it through grassroots action.

03:00pm - Andrew Brophy

Problem Dog

Many projects fall into the trap of being overrefined to the point of cannibalising their original vision. In this talk, Andrew will use his own work-in-progress, Knuckle Sandwich, as a perfect example of the benefits and drawbacks of taking your time to create the “perfect” experience (whatever that means).

03:30pm - Madeleine Mackenzie

Mansions and Mausoleums: Gothic Spatial Design in Games

Over the course of several hundred years, Gothic literature has built a storied tradition of haunted houses and creepy crypts for its protagonists to get lost in, with certain conventions being used to convey certain thematic ideas. Heroes move from the ground floor to the attic to discover hidden information, or to the basement to confront forbidden desires — so on, so forth. Moving from novels to films to games, these conventions have changed and evolved, growing more complex as Gothic spaces became easier for the audience to explore alongside the protagonists. Contrasting classic Gothic literature against Gothic games like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Bloodborne, this talk aims to shed some light on the dark intersections of these mediums, and to discuss what has, hasn’t, and should be inherited.

04:00pm - Nicola Best

Interactive Immersion: Mixed Reality Gameplay in Museums and Art

As Museums and Artists take on more mixed reality pieces there is a need for quality interactivity that can be provided through game mechanics. This creates a need for game development to be adapted into a more traditional and diverse working environment, which can present many opportunities as well as obstacles through the development process. Nicola will discuss her experiences and discoveries as a virtual reality game developer working on various mixed reality pieces for museums and artists, and how she is making a career for herself in a new sector of a sometimes intimidating industry.

04:30pm - Alan P Robinson & Kate Inabinet

Boba Quest

Boba Quest: A live action RPG played over Twitter. YOU be the Quest giver! Create your own unique quests for the boba tea hunters to complete! Help them find all of the ultimate Boba’s and create the greatest Boba map the kingdom of greater Melbourne has ever seen!

Conference Structure (Saturday & Sunday)

Freeplay acknowledges and pays respect to the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, the Traditional Custodians of the Land upon which the festival takes place.
We pay respect to their Elders past and present.