The homoerotic beauty of Ruck Me, Robert Yang's unique take on AFL, started showing at Bar SK earlier this week. But if you want to play the game, you'll have to do so in person - and there are some very good reasons why.
In an email with Kotaku Australia, Yang explained that Ruck Me had three main problems stopping the game from being released online. One of those was situational, while the others - and arguably the larger concerns - centred around the game's control system and the use of TV footage from the AFL.
"The game relies on a custom controller / installation setup built by Louis Roots, and much of the meaning and experience would be lost without that unique interface," Yang explained. "[Ruck Me] really does rely on a bar situation with lots of people, it's big ask for one person alone to play through this rather repetitive game ... in a public context the repetition feels like a fun ritual, but at home, I'm pretty sure it would feel boring and monotonous."
The use of TV footage uploaded by the AFL is problematic too: not so much for the current context in how Ruck Me is displayed, but it could be if the game was distributed online.
"My artistic critical transformative use of 2 year old AFL TV footage is unlicensed and, I believe, falls under 'fair dealing' in Australian copyright law - but I think distributing the game might affect whether it is considered fair dealing maybe, I'm not an Australian IP lawyer though," he said.
Australian copyright law doesn't have a "fair use" clause the same way as the United States, although the "fair dealing" does allow copyrighted material to be used for review or criticism, research or study, reporting, professional legal advice or judicial hearings, and after an amendment in 2006, parody or satire. There's also a special provision whereby copyrighted material can be used to enable persons with a disability to access the material.
The Australian Copyright Council's guidelines on fair dealing noted that wcourts have "not yet been considered by Australian courts" and that satire and parody isn't actually defined under local copyright law.
So the caution with Ruck Me is understandable, if unfortunate, although Ruck Me does have a strong case for falling under the "parody" element of the guidelines.
"While Ruck Me is partly a joke on AFL fans to trick them into watching gay stuff, I've realised it's also partly a joke on gay people to trick them into watching AFL."
If the idea of an erotic AFL game sounds appealing to you, or just really funny, you'll be able to play it from tonight (but only in Melbourne).