Federal Labor To Revive The Australian Interactive Games Fund, A Decade Later

Federal Labor To Revive The Australian Interactive Games Fund, A Decade Later

The Albanese Government has announced its new National Cultural Policy, and the restoration of the Australian Interactive Games Fund almost a decade after being cut by the Abbott Government. It becomes the first major federal funding for the Australian games industry since the Gillard era.

The new cultural policy, titled Revive, provides support to numerous creative sectors across film, television, music, literature and, yes, thank god, video games. It includes the establishment of an official Australian poet laureate, something the nation has never had before. It involves the Australia Council, the current body overseeing the arts, becoming Creative Australia. Per the Prime Minister himself, the policy empowers the nation’s arts and creative industries “from the gallery, to the mosh pit, to your favourite reading chair.”

Music Australia and Writers Australia will be offshoots charged with pushing their respective industries forward — “funded, philanthropic, and commercial, all together in Creative Australia.” We obviously hope to see a Games Australia in the future, too. The local industry could certainly use a government body dedicated to its growth.

But the big news for the Australian games industry today is that an old path to government funding is returning in full.

According to Minister for the Arts Tony Burke, when it comes to Australia’s rapidly growing games industry, “Screen Australia shouldn’t be left scrounging for spare change in the back of the lounge.” To that end, the Australian Interactive Games Fund, abolished almost a decade ago, is being restored. The $20 million fund was announced in 2012 by then-Labor Arts Minister Simon Crean, and axed in 2014 by the Abbott Government as it slashed and burned everything the embattled Gillard Government had managed to implement.

“Australian games studios are recognised internationally for their skill and originality in developing interactive games played all over the world, but the local industry is coming under increased pressure in the midst of a major market shift,” said Crean at the time.

In the intervening decade, funding for video game productions in Australia has largely fallen to the states. The re-implementation of the Games Fund creates another meaningful route to funding.

The Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) has been an active advocate for the games industry in the development of the National Cultural Policy, with its CEO Ron Curry commenting:

“Not only is IGEA and the games industry celebrating the funding and further commitment from the Albanese government for the development sector, but we are also delighted to see games positioned within the broader national cultural, screen and creative industries. This commitment recognises that Australian game developers have an essential role to play in the digital delivery of stories to local and international audiences. We look forward to reading more details on the fund and will work with the great team at Screen Australia to educate the industry on accessing the support.”

We’ll update this piece when the Government makes the full national cultural policy document available to the public later today, and provide further detail around what it means for the local games industry.

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