It’s that moment we’ve all been waiting for. After months of hard work and preparation, our team is proud to reveal this year’s theme, dates, and keynotes!

2019’s groovy visual identity was made by the amazingly talented Melbourne artist BjennyMontero. Our Visual Art Lead, Marigold Bartlett describes it as featuring “a delightful scene of creative collaboration and play – a cornerstone of independent game development and artistic community building”.

We’re thrilled to announce that this year’s festival dates are May 7th–12th. Our theme this year is INTROSPECTION, and our international keynote speakers are the wonderful Hannah Nicklin & Richard Lemarchand. We have a bunch more international speakers to announce soon, so watch this space!

Freeplay 2019’s weekend conference will be taking place at RMIT‘s Swanston Academic Building, we’re excited to be back in the lovely space we hosted our sold-out MIGW event Parallels 2018. Tickets to Freeplay 2019 will go live in the next week or two, do keep an eye out for them as there are limited seats and are bound to sell out quickly!

Our team is hard at work putting together the festival programme. Alongside our two-day conference, you can expect to see the return of our awards ceremony, the fantastic Hovergarden night market party, and a series of online talks and workshops. More shenanigans to be announced soon!

Submissions for talks, awards, and volunteer opportunities will all go live soon!

If you have any media enquiries, please say hello!

2019’s Theme — INTROSPECTION

Last year, we looked outwards with the theme ‘intersections’, and explored the possibilities of where and how games intersect with other creative artforms and practices.

In 2019, we look inwards with the theme ‘introspection‘. As videogames continue to grow artistically, culturally, and economically, it’s important that we spend time reflecting as individuals and collectively as a community of game makers and practitioners, to look at where we’ve come from, where we are today, and where we are headed.

This year, we would like to spend some time recognising our privileges and acknowledging the systems and algorithms that work against us, to unlearn and dismantle oppressive and colonial behaviours, to discuss our shortcomings alongside our successes, and to share best practices of care and growth. We encourage our audiences to critically examine, challenge, and deconstruct the issues that prevent us from fostering a healthy and robust industry.

2019’s theme is also a celebration of self-care and respect. We understand that making games can be hard, and that burnout is a real challenge that many of us face. We believe it’s more important than ever before to look after one other, to raise each other up, and to speak to ways we can all make game making a more sustainable, healthy, and ethical practice for everyone.

Freeplay is a reminder that making games is as much about paying attention and responding to these matters as it is about creating and selling a product, object, or service. Join us at Freeplay 2019 where we will continue to provoke curiosity, encourage activism, and look after one another and ourselves!


2019’s Keynotes

Hannah Nicklin

Hannah Nicklin is a writer, narrative/game designer, academic and artist working at the confluence of games, writing, activism, and digital art. Her work centres on finding the best forms and techniques to allow a story, theme, or source materials to flourish in a compelling and original manner.

Hannah has worked with and for organisations such as Santa Ragione, Draknek, Die Gute Fabrik, Twisted Tree Games, The Royal Shakespeare Company, The V&A, The Wellcome Collection, Rock Paper Shotgun, Alphr, The Space, Hide & Seek, and Coney.

Richard Lemarchand

Richard Lemarchand is a game designer, an educator and a consultant. He worked at Naughty Dog for eight years where he led or co-led the design of all three PlayStation 3 games in the Uncharted series. He also helped to create the game series Gex and Soul Reaver at Crystal Dynamics.

He is now an Associate Professor in the USC Games program, working out of the Interactive Media & Games Division of the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts.