Politicians Say The Funniest Things (About Video Games)

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!


    Other than Ludlam, I'll be honest I hadn't investigated who else sat on the Senate Inquiry, but it sounds fruitful nonetheless. Of course, any advancement in this space requires some fortitude from Government - and I'm not sure we're in a place to deliver that, at least across the next 4-5 years. I'll remain pessimistic, and either be right or pleasantly surprised.

    I love watching senate committees with Ludlam on them - it's like they still make Yes Minister.

      It's a little disturbing how true this is. Last couple I've watched, he's been asking the very simple 'audience-insertion character' (eg: The Minister, in Yes, Minister) questions, and watching the nonsense double-talk responses, or the explanations steeped in centuries of archaic, counter-intuitive political process to explain why everything is so screwed. And he somehow manages to keep a straight face and not get furious, like I would.

    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.

    Its just as brutal to read

      eh not really when we currenty do DO that with sections of the national Highway System between the Borders of QLD, SA, NT and NSW. Seriously i remember not 10 years go that a section between camowheel and mount isa was just a dirt road with a strip of bitumen down the middle so that overtaking lines could be place down, and this was part of the national Highway that had 3 trailer long road trains traveling at 100kmh in both directions

        It can get pretty rough up the top end, too. Cairns is essentially the 'end of the line', but frankly anything north of Rocky's a gamble.

          hell most of queensland was terrible the moment you got more than 30mins away from a major town. i spend 3 years at towoomba and just 25mins going east towards brisbane was just a stip of bitumen down the middle of a dirt track.

          Never seen it in NSW or Victoria however i havent gone farther west than Leeton NSW

            There's plenty of single track in the north of Vic. There's even little sections close to melbourne - one of my cycling routes has a patch of a couple of hundred metres, on Wildwood Road.

          Road's fine on the coast to Mosman, gets narrower and twistier and runs out at Cape Tribulation. Inland it's ok to Laura.

          Climb up from Mosman to the Atherton Tablelands is a beautiful piece of road, wish I could have gone down it 'cause I'd have averaged 70...

        Big chunks were, yes. Riding a tricycle out there meant a lot of moving off the bitumen for trucks and caravans.

        "Strip of bitumen down the middle of a dirt track" is just a single-track road though... it's fine for low volume roads. Much of them aren't that low volume which is the issue.

        Had days out there where I'd see no more than 10-15 motor vehicles all day though.

        Last edited 01/03/16 2:12 pm

          nope because that bitumen is there for the dividing line to go down the center

            If there was a dividing line... no dividing line on most of the single track I saw. Only where it was remnant bits between the road upgrades.

        The road to the moomba oil fields from Adelaide is still dirt for a couple hundred ks.

        It's bitumen on the QLD side. Guess which way companies choose to bring in more stuff.

        Thank gods it's finally going to be sealed (with a fibre-optic cable being laid alongside it)

    I thought the enquiry was really well done. One highlight for me was when one of the board members went on a rant about the R rating for games being a terrible thing allowing all kinds of filth into the country.

    The chair strongly encouraged the industry representatives to put him in his place. Sadly they failed to really stick it to him, but overall the enquiry was very well handled.

      im guessing it was someone like bob day or cory bernardi, though i find it hard to see ludnam and bernardi on the same panel without a referee between them

      How does someone so out of touch with the real world manage to be elected to our senate?

    Am I the only one that feels Scott Ludlam would be a fucking amazing dude to get a beer with?

      He is! He often makes himself available at gaming events. He's been at PAX for the past two years and has attended gaming events in Perth.

    You should have seen him on the PAX2015 Dragon Friends D&D Panel - playing a character.

    Also, shout out to the Dragon Friends podcast (http://www.thedragonfriends.com/), which has only recently returned for season 2.

    Miss Clinnick needs to learn what a LAN is, and perhaps invest in a NAS, but yes in general, the NBN is definitely needed! My two cousins living in the US work from home and can't understand why more people don't here. With increasing levels of remoting, and the likelihood of multiple HD low latency streams being critical to good buisness communication... ugh. Can you only imagine the number of cars taken off roads and hours regained from the removal of the commute if everyone worked from home? With VR looking like a household item this year, there is really no reason that anyone couldnt have a virtual meeting, or even basic consult, remotely.

    FTTP NBN would have done so much for this country if only *anyone* in charge had any vision.

    Re the GG portion, I appreciate where the speakers were coming from in regards to the larger issue, but it is depressing to hear even a hint of levity about it (they aren't a they, doesn't deserve to be dignified in such a way, it's an "it") when it is as dangerous and damaging as ever to Games.

    If you make glib remarks about it at such a serious and rare opportunity as this, you legitimise it, you normalise it, you accept it, even when you claim you are not.

    Disappointing. Yes I'm still buying the book!

    As a game developer working in an Adelaide city studio of about 20 people, it's crazy how bad the Internet is. Yesterday the Internet conked out and we literally sent people home because they were unable to work. I just uploaded a 20mb zip of a test project and it took about 40 minutes to upload. We're in the middle of the City dammit, how can the Internet be so bad!?

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now