Freeplay is the world’s longest-running independent games festival, located in Melbourne, Australia.
The festival draws Australia’s independent games community together at its conference, public events program, exhibitions, workshops, and awards. The festival joins players, makers, critics, academics, students, and families for a critical celebration of the artistry of independent games and playful 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+), Tetsuya Mizaguchi (Rez), Erin Robinson (Gravity Ghost), Steve Swink (Scale), Austin Wintory (Journey), Zuraida Buter (Playful Arts Festival), Tale of Tales (The Path), Richard Lemarchand (Uncharted), Hannah Nicklin (Mutazione), Bahiyya Khan (after HOURS), Squinky (Dominique Pamplemousse), and Zedeck Siew (A Thousand Thousand Islands).
Freeplay has a proud history of uncovering, showcasing, and highlighting local independent games at both its showcases and awards, including Jolly Rover (Best Australian Game 2010), Antichamber (Best Australian Game 2011), Stickets (Best Australian Game 2012), Framed (Best Australian Game 2013), Push Me Pull You (The Freeplay Award 2015), The Catacombs of Solaris (The Freeplay Award 2018), New Ice York (The Freeplay Award 2019), A Hand with Many Fingers (The Freeplay Award 2020), and Umurangi Generation (The Freeplay Award 2021).
Freeplay is also host to the much loved Parallels showcase, featuring short talks and heartfelt games. Parallels has debuted and spotlighted many local favourites, including Magister Ludi (Parallels 2014), Paperbark (Parallels 2015), Knuckle Sandwich (Parallels 2015), Florence (Parallels 2017), Untitled Goose Game (Parallels 2017), Novena (Parallels 2018), Dead Static Drive (Parallels 2018), Heavenly Bodies (Parallels 2019), Mutazione (Parallels 2019), Way to the Woods (Parallels 2019), the Frog Detective Series (Parallels 2019), Webbed (Parallels 2020), and Cult of the Lamb (Parallels 2021).
Iconically-Melbourne, Freeplay has consistently been part of the city’s culture, having partnered with ACMI, State Library of Victoria, Next Wave, The Wheeler Centre, Fed Square, Arts Centre Melbourne, NGV, Testing Grounds, Siteworks, Arts House, City of Melbourne, Creative Victoria, and RMIT over the years.
Freeplay continues to champion creative and artistic exploration and experimentation in games, supporting grassroots artists and game makers in Melbourne, Australia, and its nearest neighbours, and positioning game making as arts practice as videogames continue to grow and gain cultural significance and legitimacy.
We are currently recruiting for our new team to drive Freeplay for the next few years. You can find ways to get involved here.
Our management committee
Jason is a father of five, a husband to one, and a firm believer in the power of video games as art, entertainment, education, and for social change.
Dr James Manning is an experienced educator, researcher and Lecturer at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. Having taught film and screen media, cultural studies, animation, and game design for over two decades, James has developed a strong passion for preserving digital play and for approaching gamemaking as a cultural practice. He has authored numerous publications, ranging from videogame design to livestreaming to archiving digital play, and continues to make small videogames. James recently submitted his PhD thesis on Super Mario Maker and serves as a Managing Editor for the Journal of Games Criticism.
Past Board Members
Georgia Symons, Dr Dan Golding, Dr Doug Wilson, James Patto, Trent Kusters, Dr. Hugh Davies, Anna Burkey, Ben Chiverton, Cameron Rogers, Gideon Hornung, Robert Pulham, Jess Kilby, Amelia King, Vanessa Toholka, David Surman, Paul Gurney