The Greens Secure An Inquiry Into The State Of The Australian Games Industry

Last week we reported that Senator Scott Ludlum made a motion in parliament, requesting that an inquiry be made into the state of the Australian games industry. Today the Greens announced that the request was successful.

Ludlam had asked that the Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications investigate why Australia — as opposed to other countries like Canada — had experienced contraction when video games are a growth industry, making specific reference to the removal of the Interactive Games Fund — $10 million dollars removed from the hands of local industry without consultation by the Abbott government.

"Five years ago, Australia had a bourgeoning video game development sector employing thousands of talented people in this rapidly growing industry," said Senator Scott Ludlam.

"Internationally, companies have experienced strong growth thanks to smart government support and favourable regulatory settings.

"In Australia, no such luck: the sector has been treated like the poor cousin of the creative industries, culminating in the Abbott Government’s decision to close the $20 million Australian Interactive Games Fund, just 12 months after it was established.

"This inquiry will help establish what the government should be doing to support Australia’s games industry and the employment, economic and creative benefits it delivers to the nation.

"The inquiry will begin accepting submissions in the coming days, with public hearings to be held in the near future. I look forward to working with the Committee to do what we can to help get the industry back on its feet."

Could it be too little too late? In a sense the Australian industry is in the process of getting back on its feet, but certain tax breaks might encourage major publishers to start operating in Australia again. Is that what the industry needs? It certainly can't hurt.

The committee is due to report back in April 2016. A call for submissions and public hearings will be announced "shortly".


Comments

    Australia in general never takes IT seriously let alone games. And I don't see either side of politics changing anytime soon.

    If someone want's a career in gaming, he or she is better of moving elsewhere where he or she will be treated for what they are worth instead of being treated with contempt here.

      Just the Liberal Party majority who are scared of technology and don't think it's a good area that will last.

        Labor was no different. Conroy wanted to censor the Internet because he was such a glass jaw he brushed in the morning with Windex instead of Colgate.

        Granted, that applies to pretty much everyone on both sides but that is a discussion for another day.

          I think that was honestly less fear of tech and more of Labors failed attempts at being "conservative" to garner traditional cheap Coalition votes.

          A strategy doomed to failure =/

    Anything that's moving towards getting government funding is welcome. People can complain about this, but it's still something

    Last edited 22/06/15 7:03 pm

      Liberal Government funding something that isn't coal based or helping the already wealthy? You're dreaming mate. This is just more Governmental busy work that'll lead to nothing, just like the price enquires that found that, yes we are getting ripped off, but in the end it's a tough shit situation.

      My political bias is blinding my ability to see Any silver lining in this situation & it's yours & the political party I oppose's fault.

      How dare you leave a positive comment.

      This is political!

    Too late.
    Having a high dollar sent costs up, developers pulled out.
    Now that things are on a downturn for the dollar, it's our Governments ass-backwards ideals on IT that's stopping them from coming back. Why in this day and age, with multi-Gigabyte file sizes would international companies want to deal with an Australian branch who gets an internet speed of 30mb/s maximum... If they're lucky. Australia is living in the technological stone age with infrastructure and also education. Outside of IT support roles, education in gaming specific areas is non-existent.

      education in gaming specific areas is non-existent.

      What are you talking about? We have at least two very large colleges devoted to game development - the AIE and QANTM, who are frankly pushing students out who don't really have anywhere to go due to our lack of big developers, and are growing too. You've also got a number of other colleges around that focus on art, animation and interactive media, much of which can be easily applied to games.

        I assume he means in the regular curriculums for High School?

        Art, animation and programming after graduation is all great and well on tertiary education but still need a modest foundation to appreciate most of it which starts at Primary and High School.

        AIE started a program a while ago that I currently have a team in called the incubator, it's an extended year to help graduates form an indie game company and they do fund grants as well. They had to do this because most of their graduates could not get jobs. The education is certainly there and we have a lot of very skilled people ready to take up a job. I'm a qualified game programmer but I'm considering having to get a more permanent position at a supermarket because there are no jobs. Sure we should have options for this in primary, secondary and high school, but that's not the prominent issue, the issue is we have people that can do these jobs now, and a lot of them, I know a lot of very skilled and educated people who are unemployed. That is what the incubator does, it grabs these highly talented people, groups them together to create an awesome team, teaches them how to do business, and provides them the stimulus that the government won't provide to give them the head start they need to get off the ground. But there is only so much they can do. Teaching game dev in pre-grad is just going to create more people like me looking for more jobs that don't exist.

        Last edited 11/07/15 6:38 pm

    This Luddite government can't spell IT so this will unfortunately go nowhere. Too little too late...

    It's late, but better late than never, especially if we see positive change out of it like what the Canadian government put in place to attract big game developers and publishers.

    With the recent closure of 2K Canberra we've lost pretty much all of our big AAA console developers now. The three biggest studios we have are Wargaming (BigWorld), Halfbrick and EA (Firemonkeys).

    Could we just install Ludlum as despotic ruler?

    The local industry is still in the process of rebuilding from the ground up, but it's getting bigger and stronger and releasing more and more impressive titles all of the time. A little funding and a few tax breaks would do wonders to help that..

    Can we get an article tomorrow on the passing of the site blocking bill please that occurred today and the seemingly suppression of it in the media? (Specifically media owned by Rupert Murdoch)?

    Last edited 23/06/15 8:57 am

      Dude, the bill was passed at 6 PM (or thereabouts) in the evening. It's not suppressed. The real editors have called it day by then. It will be everywhere today.

      In fact, here it is directly from News Corp. http://www.news.com.au/technology/online/days-numbered-for-illegal-downloaders-as-crackdown-passes-parliament/story-fnjwneld-1227393966197

      There is no Murdoch conspiracy, champ, and if your other posts are to go by, you're a big enough man to not be stooping down to feeding fictional conspiracies.

      If you want to hold this to someone, then set your sights on Turnbull. He's out to make a name for himself (like others) and has chosen the lazy path.

      In fact, bringing Murdoch into the equation is detrimental to discussions as it distracts from the actual people who need to be brought to account. So less credit given to him the better.

      Last edited 23/06/15 6:19 am

        Has there been any coverage yet? I haven't seen any in my admittedly small amount of tv news time in the am and no mention of it in the JJJ news.

          Given the current state where sensationalism is favoured to attract clicks and push paper sales, don't be surprise if it take quiet a while for this important matter to appear after there have been three to four detailed articles and live news coverage of Kim Kardashian buying a coffee.

          Last edited 23/06/15 10:02 am

            Still yet to see anything on the news? Sure it might have been hyperbolic and shortsighted with the murdoch bit, definitely concede that, but I will definitely stand by the idea it's being pushed under the carpet.

            HOWEVER like you said, I did see the important fact that Caitlyn Jenner had a splendid fathers (honestly confused, which one does she celebrate now... not being an asshole, I'm genuinely wondering lol) day with her family!

            Last edited 23/06/15 10:46 am

              Apparently they will be talking about it on Triple Js Hack program that runs at 5:30pm, but I'm not sure if it'll be the main part or the last 5 mins that doesn't get much attention.

              Last edited 23/06/15 4:51 pm

                Been checking other news today, still nothing. It's either not news worthy or they simply don't want it to be.

                  Sometimes I find it extremely hard to believe I'm awake and this is the real world.

                  Or all the articles that discuss the blocking bill have been blocked.

        We need something akin to Godwins law for mentions of Murdoch conspiracy's.

        While that article does actually state that this bill passed its pretty much minimises what the bill can do. To get something blocked they have to merely prove that a websites "primary purpose is facilitating copyright infringement" That means as well as the Torrenting sites and VPNs mentioned they could start blocking things like Dropbox if people start passing files that way, Wikileaks because they can copy right government documents or Even Youtube.

        Its not good enough to say "oh they won't do that" if they will or not isn't important, whats important is now they "can do that".

        Otherwise i agree with what you are saying about keeping the right people in the crosshairs of accountiblity. I have to wonder how much money the big providers have thrown at pushing this through though.

    We're the fucking country who voted in a party whose broadband policy was to use tech that is dated and considered an interim step, all to save 30 billion dollars in the short run at the cost of god knows how much in the long run in maintenance and what is essentially future proofed infrastructure. The copper is unarguably on its last legs and will need to be replaced, at which point it will be more expensive. Any wonder anything IT is flailing around? Hell, anything that isn't mining at this point is viewed with contempt, banks included otherwise they'd treat the property bubble a lot more fucking seriously as opposed to looking after literally their own personal interests which is idiotic when you understand the effects of a bubble bursting.

    Last edited 22/06/15 11:52 pm

      We talk about the NBN here on Kotaku, but it was only one of five or six well-described policies heading into the election that were widely criticised by experts in the relevant fields (plus economists, where applicable). Each one of these policies were (are) populist garbage, products of the a mean-spirited conservative right with no plan beyond the next election cycle. I pointed these things around (along with the simple fact that all the promises simply couldn't be paid for) to a LNP-voting friend, and all he could say about his voting intention was that he couldn't vote for the incumbent Labor government. This is a smart man, we're talking about, who still got caught up in the lowest common denomintor spin - when he couldn't see the significant issues with the LNP campaign when I laid them out for him, it became clear to me that Abbott was going to be our next PM.

      It took all of six months for him to admit that I was right - he just brought it up in conversation; that he was really angry about the tricks pulled in that campaign that should've been obvious to him.

      So yeah, we've got the government that we deserve - focused on the short term and sold to us by a similarly short sighted media circus.

        The current government had no policies going into the election. Not a single bloody one. Everything was a massive "fuck you" to Labor based lies and propaganda and that's what pisses me off. No other country on this Earth would have voted the way we did if they were in our shoes. Half our country were basically a bunch of fuckwits who didn't like having a woman as our PM whose greatest fault was that she was born a woman and told the oh so unforgivable lie of Australia not having a carbon tax. Yes, we got the government we deserve at the cost of the minority suffering along. The price of democracy.

    While this is welcome news I feel it's too little too late. The Games Fund was too little too late to keep the big studios in Australia. A couple of months ago Australia's last AAA studio pulled out of the country citing high costs as the reason. This isn't just a problem in the games industry, it's every industry where people are either finishing up operating in Australia or choosing to invest elsewhere because of high costs. Tax breaks & incentives are all well and good if they come along, but as seen with the Games Fund, these can be taken away as quickly as they're implemented. Big studios aren't stupid, they will have noticed the attitude to gaming in this country and it will put them off coming back here. No amount of government incentives will change Australia from being a relatively high risk country for investment. Something needs to be done about high labour costs and high infrastructure costs (easier to do something about the latter than the former, but then of course the infrastructure owners go up in arms about their interests being stepped on).

    So that's AAA studios out of the question, but if this inquiry does actually lead to affirmative action then what it may boost is an emerging Australian industry. It will still be the case that the best will be looking to America, Canada or Japan to best utilise their skills, but if studios pumping out decent games can get set up and running with the assistance of the Government then that's great.

    Pretty impressed with the greens now they've switched leaders. impressed enough to never vote for a major party again.. If we want genuine reform; then these might be the mob to vote for. At the very least they'll shake things up & 'keep them honest'.

      Pretty sure I heard that about the Democrats once upon a time.... Less unicorn fart powered policy back then though.

        Point still stands. I can't morally vote for either Labor or the Coalition. I've never been able to, as someone that used to read the released policy details by every party I heard/read about.

          Would help if the Greens actually had costed policy in monetary figures as opposed to "good feels" though

        The Dems weren't quite so batshit crazy either. I prefer my parties with aspirations for less Government, not more.

        I could watch SHY talk shit all day long though. She's total comedy gold.

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