What makes a game "Australian"? Is this even quantifiable? On the surface, a game made by an Aussie developer should qualify. But what if the game has no Australian themes, characters, environments or accents? Take Bioshock or Puzzle Quest. Is there anything about them, other than their developer, that makes them Aussie?
Not really. So how's our country going to make its mark on the industry at large if we don't burn in the message with our games? PALGN spoke to David Hewitt and Tom Crago of Tantalus to find out.
From Hewitt's perspective:
"I actually feel as if the contribution of Australian game developers is largely under-credited. It's not an industry that generates celebrities and recognisable faces, and games developed here don't necessarily have Australian accents in them, or Australian scenery in the background. Most players would be surprised at the number of high-quality, high-profile titles that are developed here".
Hewitt goes on to say that this effect can be attributed to the fact that many local titles are designed with an international audience in mind.I don't believe people buy games - or even get excited about them - because they happen to be overly patriotic or familiar. When I drive around in Grand Theft Auto IV, I see the city as a just that, a city, and not a loose recreation of New York. For some games it's vital the environment or culture is authentic, as is the case with GSC Game World's STALKER. I doubt it would have been anywhere near as compelling if it'd been based in Lucas Heights.
While it'd be nice to have games with an Australian feel, I don't think it should get in the way of making a good game. Sure, inject a bit of local flavour if it adds to the experience, but the "Australian-ness" should be in the form of quality and polish - a signature if you will - rather than forced as a theme in the pursuit of recognition.