Now in its second year of running a five day, full-course meal of a festival, Freeplay continues to be a local statement.
Being the only festival focused on independent development and the ways in which games meet at a cultural intersection, the lineup for Freeplay is always unique, boasting speakers and events which broaden the narrow focus of game development into other spheres of influence.
The event was broken up into three separate programs.
The developer program catered to the budding independent spirit which now categorises the Australian industry, hosting a range of talks which, on Thursday, specifically delved into the practical matters concerning starting a business and pitching a game, while on Friday a more thoughtful panel on striking the balance of tension in games was of particular note, with discussions of platforms and delivery methods comprising the latter party of the day.
A series of stories from those who’ve been there, with several Aussie indies, saw the evening off.
The Playful Program housed the less formal night time events including ACMI’s evening with Tetsuya Mizuguchi, which was presented by Freeplay. It also presented games in a new light, asking participants in the Games by the Fire night on the Friday to tell stories about and perform from their games of choice for one another.
The Wednesday night to commence the show saw people tasked with missions as spies and attempting to thwart one another at Federation Square, getting people into the spirit of thinking about games both as players and designers in the lead-up to the show.
There were candid and stark talks by Emily Ridgway and Andrew Podgson on scoring games, a profound discussion of the use of language in games by Katie Williams and Katie Keys, a broad panel which attempted to outline the ethics of game design, not reaching into any one specific topic with a huge degree of depth, but conveying the multitude of facets to tackling ethics at all in gaming.
Meanwhile an intelligent discussion chaired by festival Director Paul Callaghan took the types of discussions around games to task with local journalists (particularly pertinent in the lead up to the Ladies in Gaming panel at EBX the next week), and a panel entitled ‘Sex and Death’ took a look at gratuitous sex and violence in videogames from a unique angle – speaking as to our fundamental drives for such content in the first place and asking after their causes in media generally.
The bottom line is that Freeplay holds a place unlike any other festival in Australia, bridging the gaps between gaming and other influences and forcing those enamoured with the art form to consider their craft from multiple perspectives.
Submissions from all around the world were thrown into the mix for the annual Freeplay Awards, the winners of which can be found here.
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