Just under two weeks ago the Australian Senate held the first hearings discussing the Australian games industry and what the Australian government could be doing to help nurture it. This is all part of Senator Ludlam’s inquiry, which he secured in June 2015.
A lot of interesting topics were discussed: diversity, industry, taxation issues, funding. These are all serious issues that need addressing. Hopefully we’ll see some genuine change as a result of this.
But it was also hilarious to hear politicians trying to get their head around video games.
I’ve just gone through the Hansard and managed to dig out some pretty good stuff.
Like the moment Tony Reed, the CEO of the Games Developer Association of Australia tried to explain ‘Verby Noun’ and how making mobile games with a ‘verby noun’ title is a things these days…
Mr Reed: … Typically, in the past we have never really cared about that brand being attached to our games. Games are games. It does not matter where they are made. It is interesting, however, that because of the success of the Australian market recently a lot more attention has been given to us, so we tend to find ourselves promoting Australia as much as the games in our communications. In the past, no, you would not have known. There is no way you would have known. If you looked at a digital store, there is no way you would know. However, when you consume the media associated with games, you start to learn where those games originated. I point at Giselle here because she is the representative of Hipster Whale and at Ben who works with Mighty Games. They have just had a massive success with their game Shooty Skies—
CHAIR: Sorry, what was it called?
Mr Reed: Shooty Skies. We are going through a genre. It is called ‘verby nouns’!
CHAIR: I am sure we will know all about that by the end of the day.
Senator LUDLAM: You will be able to find it in the Hansard.
Yes that’s Senator Scott Ludlum, he was in attendance, which makes sense considering he made the call for the inquiry in the first place. He was dropping zingers all over the place.
This one was absolutely my favourite.
Dr Golding: Beyond that, there are anecdotal examples. I do not have access to all of the universities, but I have spoken to RMIT, for example. They have a more or less fifty-fifty gender breakdown for people studying games. So, it depends. There are strategies being enacted even at the educational level to combat this.
Senator LUDLAM: That last one is going to annoy the Gamergaters substantially. A couple of pages previous to that you state in your submission: I have already personally experienced this growing chilling effect around videogames in professional circles and do not doubt that I will continue to do so. What experiences as speaking of there, because Gamergate was obviously quite a bruising experience for the community? I gather from your evidence that it is still bubbling.
Dr Golding: Yes. I am happy to talk about that specific example, where, for example, they love to go through transcripts of things. I am certain that I am now speaking to some game Gamergaters in the future as they read my words written down in Hansard.
Senator LUDLAM: It is all about ethics in Senate testimony! Choose your words very carefully.
Yep, Scott Ludlam made a joke about ethics. HE’S JUST LIKE US.
But really Crossy Road dominated discussion — which makes sense since it’s the most successful Australian-made game released in the last couple of years.
Senator REYNOLDS: Good morning, Mr Reed. Thank you very much for your submission and your testimony this morning. I have to say that, from reading your submission and others, I am incredibly excited by the future of and opportunities in your industry. I think it is a shame that we are not doing more to promote the profession and also the industry and the opportunities that it provides. As a new convert to Crossy Road—
Unidentified speaker: Thank you!
CHAIR: a very bad one. Those logs get me every time.
Seriously, screw those goddamn logs.
Interestingly the NBN was a frequent point of discussion. Mainly because games developement is largely a digital industry and you sort of need the internet to do your jobs. More seriously, Ben Britten Smith made an analogy that made me shiver. He said that the internet is like a highway and we’re currently trying to push semi-tricks down dirt roads.
Man, that was brutal to hear.
But this was funny:
CHAIR: Mr Rennison, you talked about technology. One of my babies is the NBN, and I want to talk about the opportunities we might be missing out on by using the existing old copper network rather than fibre to the premises. Can you indicate what effect that might have on the gaming business in the future?
Mr Rennison: I am not an expert on the NBN or internet speeds at all; I will just openly admit to that. But yes, it goes without saying. We are in a digital marketplace. It is just simple things: for example, I might have a meeting on Skype with a client in the UK, and just being able to talk to those people and draw other people into those meetings, and having that ability to talk openly and freely, is really important—and sometimes impossible, depending on where you are with internet speeds. But as a whole, we are digital. As Lauren said, it is an even playing field out there. That is the one thing we have in our favour. But the one thing that could hamper us down the line when things get even more complex and download speeds need to be even more intense is that: if we do
not have that infrastructure in place now, that could damage us later on, I believe.
Miss Clinnick: As a very concrete example of that, with the internet speeds that we have right now, if Unity—which is an engine that many use to build their games—releases an update that has a large file size, somebody generally has to download that, put it onto a USB or a hard drive and circulate it physically around our coworking space, because we cannot individually download it. So absolutely there are limitations. As Neil said, if I am speaking to a console holder and they can only understand one word in five, I will lose out to a competitor from South Korea that has perfect internet. So it definitely is holding us back, and there would be a big quantum of improvement for our industry if we could get strong, reliable internet.
Senator LUDLAM: I will just fax these things around the globe—using a USB key!
CHAIR: What is a fax!