Mark your calendars: Freeplay Independent Games Festival is returning in 2012, with the theme “Chaos and Grace”. This year, the event will be held from 19-23 September, at the State Library of Victoria and beyond.
The Australian event promises a unique mix of “games, industry, culture, education and play”, with a public expo, awards night, local and international speakers all thrown together into an impressively combined conference/workshop program.
This year, the development side of things is under the microscope: “The chaos of the creative process, of development, and of the political, social and artistic culture that surround us.”
How do we – as gamers, developers and critics – transform that chaos into systems and rules? …and on the flip side: How does grace “seep into the skin” of our work?
The State Library of Victoria is – once again – a supportive sponsor of the event, with Acting CEO and State Librarian Sue Hamilton explaining:
Games are an important way for people to engage with the world and with each other. They allow people to learn through interaction and develop new skills for managing complex thinking. Games succeed in this because they are intrinsically motivating; people play games because they enjoy it, not because they have to.
People also use libraries because they want to. In a modern library, collections take many forms - manuscripts, books, websites, digital media. Games are a fundamental part of this landscape, so it is important that libraries not only ‘play’ in this space, but encourage others to do so.
But while this is a day of rejoicing over the new announcement, it’s also a day of farewells: Long-time co-director Eve Penford-Dennis is moving on to focus on some new projects.
In her words:
Leaving something you’ve been an integral part of for a long time is always a difficult decision but I’m proud of how Freeplay has grown and transformed the public conversation around games and play. In particular, I’m proud of the public program which drew over 1800 people through Experimedia in 2011, the awards which celebrate the best of Australian creative development to local and international audiences, and establishing Freeplay as a stand-alone organisation which I’m sure will support Freeplay long into the future.
Paul Callaghan, Eve’s partner in crime for many years, will remain with the festival as Director for the 2012 event – but himself will be signing off to pursue his own projects in 2013.
It’s been an amazing experience working on Freeplay for so long and watching it evolve as we’ve gone from 600 attendees in 2009 to over 2000 in 2011, as the opportunities for independent game developers have grown and as games and play have shifted into the cultural mainstream. I’m looking forward to the 2012 festival being bigger and more ambitious before handing it over to somebody with a fresh perspective.
So! Pop along to Freeplay in September, check out the state of the Australian games industry and development in general, see how everything fits together, and get a taste for what’s going on. If you really like it, expressions of interest for the Festival Director position will be available a little later in the year.