ABC and Screen Australia Launch Serious Games Competition

ABC and Screen Australia Launch Serious Games Competition

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“Videogames, as a medium, have also reached a stage in their development where they are mature enough to tackle concepts far more meaningful than just shooting space aliens.” So says the brains behind the Serious Games initiative just launched by the ABC and Screen Australia. They’re calling for serious game design ideas, with the eventual competition winners receiving funding to development their idea into a playable game.

We are looking for game IDEAS that address issues that may be in the field of society and culture, health, relationships, history, science, politics, or the environment. The game will explore this idea/topic in an imaginative, creative, entertaining and innovative way, with a strong game narrative and solid underlying educative aspect.

If that sounds up your alley, hit up the ABC website for more details and an application form. And also check out the segment on Serious Games that aired on last night’s episode of Good Game TV.

Serious Games [ABC, thanks Brendan!]


  • I was starting to get interested in applying for this until I saw the following conditions:

    – At least one member of the team must have game production experience.
    – Key team members must have relevant credits in their chosen fields: for
    example, a screenwriter or a documentary filmmaker must have at least one
    project that has been theatrically released, broadcast on national television,
    or screened at a recognised film festival; a game developer/studio must have
    at least one produced and released game; and a web developer at least one
    major produced and released online project.

    Seems Serious Games are serious business and only professionals can write them.

  • I sent this to them. It’s a bit of a joke.

    I am a game programmer and have been so for the past 7 years. I have worked on 8 different games on multiple different platforms including Game Boy Advance, Ps2, Xbox, GameCube, Xbox360 and Wii.

    I must say that I was very interested in the Serious Games Initiative, that is, until I got to the budgetary constraints. I feel these are somewhat laughable to expect a fully functional QUALITY game to be done for under $340,000 ($325,000 + $15,000 for initial script writing); even a short game with an hour’s game play. Realistically, that would get you about 5 or 6 professionals for a year at the current average industry standard rate of pay (only 4 of me on my current salary).

    A DECENT game cannot be created by 5 or 6 people FROM SCRATCH within a year with that budget. Let alone tested for bugs and playability through focus testing. Let me list the general positions within a game team to give you an idea of what is needed (let’s say we need one of each, at a MINIMUM):
    • Programmer
    • Script Writer
    • Concept artist
    • Texture artist
    • Prop artist
    • World Mesh artist
    • Animator
    • Designer
    • Level Designer
    • Quality Assurance Tester

    With those 11 professionals (you’d need at least two programmers – they are the life blood of creating any game), they would only get paid $29, 545 ($325,000 / 11) for the year of work. I didn’t get paid that badly in my first year of game development, and that was back in 2002! (let alone the fact that you want EXPERIENCED developers).

    At the risk of offending, may I say that it seems you are out of touch with the real economics of game development, and that I have a better solution that is within your price range and does more than just get you a game. I would suggest you offer this amount of money to STUDENTS currently enrolled in their 2nd or 3rd year within a game development course. This would give much needed experience to them whilst providing around 10-13 people, enough to get a simple game created and tested.

    I honestly doubt you will find many takers for this endeavour. However, with the tough economic times causing the closure of Pandemic Studios in Brisbane, along with a few other cut backs, you may just luck out and get the talent you need through desperation.

    This correspondence is not meant to offend, but rather bring to your attention to the fact that the expectations outlined in the application information are somewhat unrealistic and that the governmental policy makers that thought up this idea really should have sat down with industry professionals and gotten a better feel for costing and the logistics of creating a game.

    Hell, I would have done that for free.


  • @ Quabbe: They didn’t ask for a AAA game – it really depends what kind of game you’re creating. Plenty can be created with a $325k budget. Braid was made for $180k.

  • Quabbe: Have you actually taken note of recent indie releases? There’s been a number of games done with small teams in about a years timeframe. It’s not unrealistic.

  • I noticed that in their conditions if you are currently enrolled in multimedia uni courses, you are prevented from applying. 🙁

  • @Matthew & @Joe:

    Yes I have been paying attention to the indie scene and have seen some of the successes that have come out of a small budget. That being said, how much of the actual labour do you think they are accounting for? My guess: Not a lot.

    This is what makes stories of indie game’s success so enticing and wonderful. They toil away, spending the minimum amount of money to get the game done – usually on hardware, licenses and various other *tangible* items or required services for the submission to be approved. They risk not getting paid for their hours of toil. Games like braid pay off, and then they get paid for their work, after the sales meet costs – and not before.

    I’m not saying it cant be done, I’m just saying it cant be done without making a lot of personal sacrifices. Should this competition be promoting that kind of development? I would like to think not.


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