Sunday, October 01, 2006

Here is the next bit from the bit of the paper I wrote with Melanie (see yesterday's post).

This is bad. And yet nobody seems to care.
Culturally speaking, this is a fairly stark, sorry state of affairs. If all our radio stations had DJs with American accents and played no Australian music, one would expect at least a few people to raise an eyebrow. Yet there are no institutional voices in Australia currently pushing for Australian content in games. Not one.

When the bilateral Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Australia was proposed, there was a flurry of rightful anger in the arts sector about the threat to Australian cultural industry. People from the film, radio and television industries rightly pointed out that while existing quota systems might ensure the survival of “Australian voices” for now, quotas that we may need one day for possible future media, such as online-delivered content, would not be possible. It doesn't take much imagination to apply this logic to games. If anyone with influence was concerned about Australian game culture, then would have been the easiest, most perfect time to add games into the argument as an addendum. But nobody did.

Currently, an internationally acclaimed game project based on young Australians dealing with homelessness fails to secure enough funding to even complete a prototype (Kroenert, 2006). Why? Short answer: there is no funding to be had.

The same problem faced the “Escape From Woomera” project, for which no funding avenues were available, even after completing a game prototype. (The game prototype is still on the game studies curriculum of several universities around the world.)

I should mention that I specify "anyone with influence" above in that point about the FTA debate because I (and who knows, perhaps other punters like me) actually did say something about games and the FTA, but obviously nobody's going to listen to me, are they. I went along to the film industry's big FTA public meeting a couple of years ago and had a blast on the "open" mic about the potential future effects of the FTA on Australian culture delivered through games.

Note that I employ the term "open mic" with hesistation. Although there weren't that many people wanting to speak, and although I very noticeably had my hand up to speak for about two hours from the very beginning of the open mic session, it was only when I started waving and shouting and embarrassing everybody that I was picked. Outrageously, I was the first and only woman to get on the mic (though there were originally plenty of women with their hands up wanting to speak. Most gave up. Perhaps they all had to nip back into the kitchenette to get the tea and coffee ready.) About a zillion male luminaries of the local film and television industries from the floor were given the mic several times each in preference to those who hadn't spoken. I've attended hundreds of public meetings, many with blatantly discriminatory/incompetent chairing, but for this one I had to use every trick in the book to get on the speaking list.

It's remarkable how lame sounding some TV and film people are without a script or an auto-cue in front of them. Well anyway, I felt a whole lot better about being a female working in the game industry after that rather eye-opening evening.



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