Games inquiry

WA GAME developers have welcomed a Senate inquiry into their industry.

The inquiry was secured by WA Greens senator Scott Ludlam, in response to Screen Australia shutting down its $20 million interactive games fund following federal government cuts.

“Internationally, games companies have experienced strong growth thanks to smart government support and favourable regulatory settings,” he says.

“In Australia, no such luck: the sector has been treated like the poor cousin of the creative industries.

“I don’t want to sound ageist, but sometimes I think the power-makers don’t understand that this is an emerging art form and also a growing and profitable economy.”

According to an FTI report, most video games can be digitally exported to a growing global market worth $93 billion, an opportunity which the FTI claims is being stymied in WA by a lack of funding.

One of the few avenues left is a small $10,000 fund from the FTI. FTI games director Kate Raynes-Goldie says she had 10 gamers pitching for a share of the pot last week: “We have a thriving gaming community in WA and we need to support it with both federal and state funding. Previously federal funds were only available to companies with a proven track record in gaming, but we need it reinstated and opened up to fledgling companies as well.

“It’s a catch-22, because to get a game picked up you have to spend quite a lot on making a good prototype or demo version to show big companies.”

Black Lab Games founder Paul Turbett says it would have been difficult to release hit game Star Hammer without federal funding.

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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