When Scott Ludlam secured a inquiry into the state of the Australian games industry, there was a worry that the public at large — and the Australian industry — wasn't engaged on the issue. It took a long time for the submissions to flood in but now, with the submission period recently closing, the inquiry has received 99 submissions, each exploring a number of different issues.
And we've been assured by the Committee that not all the submissions have been uploaded. They estimate that another 10 or so still haven't been uploaded. There's also the possibility that some stragglers will submit late. According to the Committee it's important to not read too much into the sheer volume of submissions, but it is heartening to see that, after a slow start, a large number were eventually submitted.
All of the major video game bodies were represented. Despite being out of its official remit, the IGEA put together a comprehensive submission alongside reasonable suggestions in support of bigger studios, smaller development teams and those making non-commercial games.
Almost all of the submissions, particularly those made by professional studios, made mention of the Producer Offset — a rebate available to producers of Australian feature films and television. This currently isn't available to developers and allowing game creators to make use of that rebate seems like a great natural step. Many called for the re-establishment of the Interactive Games Fund — a $10 million fund that was removed during a recent budget.
There seems to be a slight tension between games made for commercial purposes and culturally focused games. One submission made this its central thesis: cultural games should not be funded at all, any and all funding should be focused on commercial objectives. An extreme view, and one that was offset by most broad, definitive submissions. Most were commercially focused, but wanted to support cultural games — which have a history here in Australia with games like Escape From Woomera.
Many, like Dan Golding's extensive submission took a broader view of the games industry and its issues — including the issue of broader representation of women and other minorities.
The Committee warned us not to look too much into the amount of submissions, but it is heartening to see that developers, industry bodies and the public at large being engaged on this issue. Hopefully we'll see positive change from this inquiry.
You can check out more submissions here.