Hello and welcome to Freeplay Independent Games Festival 2021!

The Freeplay team have been working hard over the last few months, and we’re delighted to announce a hybrid physical-digital festival for 2021.

Freeplay 2021 will take place across six days on June 8th–13th. After the success of last year’s online festival, and due to the ongoing uncertainty that surrounds lockdowns, we’ve decided to keep our conference program online and accessible for free. In addition to this, we’ll be presenting a series of free and paid in-person events including our Night Market Party, physical games, live music gigs, and more.

We’re excited to unveil our confirmed festival activities in the coming weeks! Keep an eye out for tickets, which will go live early next week!

This year’s identity art was created by Rory Sampson, with guidance from our Visual Art Lead Marigold Bartlett. We’re thrilled to be working with them. Rory has taken our 2021 theme, ‘Soft Voices, Loud Roars’, and interpreted it perfectly with a warm, cosy army of frogs contentedly bubbling away in the night. The cacophony of a pond of frogs singing together fits nicely as a way to think of any creative community, including the ANZ & SEA independent games spaces. We’re all part of a collective group, each adding our own unique song to the chorus, a chorus which is much larger than any individual, and much richer for the mixture of timbres, notes, and tunes.

Joining us this year as Sponsorship Manager is Terry Burdak! Terry is a graphic designer, game developer, and the creative director of Paper House, the team behind the wonderful Paperbark. Terry, along with the rest of the Freeplay Team, will be working hard over the next few weeks to curate and present to you the full schedule of this year’s festival.

Our 2021 Freeplay Awards submissions are still open, you can enter your games over at our Awards page. Awards submissions will close 11:59pm (AEST) on Sunday 25th April, 2021.

Finally, as we continue to program and finalize the festival, we would love for you to submit talks. Our Call for Speakers submissions are open! If you have any talks, panels, or workshops that you would like to host at Freeplay 2021, make your way to our Speaker Submission form. Speaker submissions close 11:59pm (AEST) on Sunday 2nd May, 2021.

Stay tuned for more announcements, including Volunteer opportunities, in the next week or two. Our full schedule reveal is slated for May. We hope to see you at Freeplay this year!

If you have any media enquiries, please say hello!

2021’s Theme – SOFT VOICES, LOUD ROARS

From radical protests to marches for justice—these are forms of collective action, activism, resistance, and solidarity that have the power to bring forth social and political change. Public play, making games, and having critical conversations can also be forms of activism and protest, bringing community together, enriching the lives of makers and players, and creating a safe, healthy, and ethical space to practice our art and craft.

2021’s theme ‘Soft Voices, Loud Roars’ emphasises the importance of our collective power while acknowledging and valuing each individual’s unique voice. Our diverse voices, backgrounds, opinions, and experiences come together to create a rich and vibrant community. Through this year’s theme, we hope to provide a safe space to critically examine, deconstruct, and become aware of our own voices, as well as uplift and give power to the softer voices that may otherwise be drowned or silenced in the noise and complexity of our industry or society.

Freeplay is a festival that embraces and encourages critical, open, and brave conversations. We strive to question, challenge, share, and discuss the issues that we face as an industry, an artform, a creative community, and within our own practices. We encourage the breaking of conventions, pushing of boundaries, embracing alternative forms of game making, and celebrating the fringes and those beyond the mainstream.

Together we can inspire hope, action, change, and progress. We believe that with all our voices combined we can make for a loud roar.

2021 Freeplay Awards

The Freeplay Awards have been a long-standing cornerstone of the festival and the Australian independent games community, celebrating new and emerging voices, creative talent, and bold experimental ideas.

We’re aiming for the 2021 Freeplay Awards Ceremony to take place in-person, and will be monitoring any lockdown restrictions. In the case of a lockdown, the Awards Ceremony will be shifted to an online format.

Our 2021 Freeplay Awards Categories are:

  • The Freeplay Award (Best Game)
  • Excellence in Design
  • Excellence in Visual Art
  • Excellence in Audio
  • Excellence in Narrative
  • Non-Digital Game Award
  • Micro-Game Award
  • Experimental Game Award
  • Student Game Award
  • Across The Ditch Award

A brief description of the categories can be found on the Submission form. Please read the Submission Guidelines before filling in the form, and submit your games when ready!

Submissions will close 11:59pm (AEST) on Sunday 25th April, 2021.

Freeplay is the world’s longest-running independent games festival, located in Melbourne, Australia. For over 17 years, Freeplay has been exploring the vital margins of independent, alternative, and experimental games culture through it’s Festival program, annual Awards, and the Parallels showcase. Join us from June 8–13, 2021 for a 6-day festival filled with online talks, panels, live music gigs, exhibitions, and more!

Freeplay is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.