The Future of the Australian Gaming Industry

Ever since it emerged in the late 80’s, the Australian videogame industry has been trying to establish a foothold in the international market, experiencing moments of success and decline. The last few years have not been productive with several pioneer studios in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney shutting down, including Pandemic Studios, Krome Studios and more recently, THQ’s Brisbane and Melbourne studios. There are several reason for the loss in traction. First and foremost the fluctuations of the value of the Australian dollar often dictated where Studios choose to develop their projects. With the rise in the late 2000’s early 2010’s it is no surprise that some Studios decided that Australia wasn’t lucrative enough. The second id tax incentives for game developers overseas, for example, Quebec government subsidises 37.5% of videogame studios’ payrolls. This offer is designed to entice Studios to move and open in a certain location meaning that they either close down or simply don’t open in Australia. The third reason is with the increase in Indie gaming and game developers there has been a sharp decrease of middle-ground games, that is games that fall below triple-A titles.

Although Australian consumers are still buying games, they represent only 2% of the world market which means that Australian game companies need to export in order to survive which increases the risk that professionals or ‘talent’ are leaving to work overseas. The fact that the Australian game industry relies so heavily on international game studios and publishers means that in order to flourish they need proactive support from the government both at a state and federal level, like the Gam Developers’ Association of Australia. It is clear that there is plenty of talent and opportunity to develop a sustainable video game industry in Australia; proximity to the Asian market, expertise in online gaming and mobile gaming, and university programs in computer programs. The key is to encourage and maintain an ongoing dialogue between industry and policy advisors

Machinima

Machinima, Machinima, everywhere. Since the days of “Diary of a Camper”, which is considered to be the first piece of Machinima film, the concept of reappropriating game visuals has exploded into an art of film making. The rise of such an art form is in part due to the low cost of screen capture low barriers of access generated by gaming engines, but the main reason so many consumers have now become prosumers is the creative nature that surrounds the gaming industry. From walkthroughs and Let’s Play’s, Fan art and videos, parodies, and modding, players now have more access and influence over their gaming experience than ever before.

Machinima is an important aspect of the gaming culture and it will only continue to increase as technology and tools of creation become more ubiquitous and less expensive. It is fast, accessible and cost significantly less than actually making your own film and with many platforms of distribution, the more circulation, the more awareness and the more people who will start to create their own content. This means that the demand for new and creative work is, at the moment, endless. The desire for consumer to generate their own gaming content may be a new idea but what has given rise to this is the intrinsic human desire to create. Storytelling and character development has always been a huge aspects of art, literature, film and games so it is no surprise that it has found its way into the newer platforms of art.