After ten years, Australia’s Freeplay Independent Games Festival is changing formats but its focus, if anything, is getting smaller. Gone is the single-weekend, single-event approach, with next year’s festival spanning ten days in April – but if you’re making games somewhere other than Melbourne, you’re not the target audience.
At today’s launch event, Freeplay director Dan Golding explained that “local” did not necessarily mean “Australian”:
Freeplay has always been in Melbourne, and we’re trying to re-articulate its Melbourne-ness…
Golding is quick to point out that he would like presenters, game developers and other attendees to visit from other states (either in person or virtually), and promises the event is not “abandoning its national outlook”.
But generally speaking, this is going to be something that’s really focussed on local culture – I keep saying that word, ‘local’ – the stuff that we feel we can uncover in our position as curators.
Interstate Australian developers have already started wondering why they should care about the event, but more national content will be considered “in due course,” says Golding.
Freeplay has been shaking things up ever since it was started in 2004, but the one thing that hasn’t been shaken up for a while is the format of the festival itself. So that starts now.
2015 marks the first time since that initial festival that the event will take place in the first half of the year. Freeplay director Dan Golding says the move is something the board has been discussing “for a while”.
However (if you’re in Melbourne), you should prepare to be shaken up as early as this month, with Freeplay making an appearance as part of the Melbourne Writers’ Festival’s LitHop event. Pop in to Rancho Notorious, upstairs at 1000 Pound Bend to check out Play By The Book, a performance of classical literature read over playthroughs of indie games. We’re told “The result will be a fascinating and strange hybrid of forms and culture.”
The next Freeplay event is taking place on October 18, an all-day critical celebration of independent gaming culture named Parallels. The event is in two parts – the Playday event held at ACMI Lightwell (complete with publicly interactive activities and performances), and later, the Parallels Showcase in the ACMI Studio from 7pm.
With Parallels, we really have a chance to curate and showcase work that excites and challenges us in a way that we haven’t really been able to do before.
Parallels draws inspiration from the Horizon events put on by US group Venus Patrol. The group recently held an “E3-alternative press conference” at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, featuring games and developers from around the world.
Tickets to both 2014 events are available now – Play By the Book as part of LitHop, and Parallels Showcase at ACMI. Details for the 2015 10-day Freeplay Independent Games Festival will be announced in due course.