So, I'm not a natural blogger and normally figuring out what to write is like pulling teeth, but this is an opportunity not to miss. Writing this sitting in a bar in Perth, waiting for Liz, who's done a sterling job of looking after us, to give me a lift to the airport after an amazing week which has lots to say about all of the great things happening in our industry. So in the best traditions of games writing, here's a list, in no particular order.
1. The Perth Writers Festival did what seems to be a world first, bringing together some amazing, world-class game writers (Ok, they also lowered the tone with me, but hey, it might have been TOO GOOD otherwise). We got to sit on stage on an equal footing with internationally famous and talented authors and talk about why game writing must be taken seriously. It was a really proud moment, feeling like game writers are getting the serious recognition they deserve outside the gaming community. A really diverse. crowd came to hear us talk, not just gamers, and my fellow panelists made a brilliant and convincing case for the increasing sophistication, diversity and levels of excellence in what we do. It was particularly great to hear so much talk of craft, rather than compromise, and I left inspired and fired up about what we do and how it's really becoming so central to why games are so important.
2. Loads of the audience were under 12 (at best bet from the dad of a ten year old). And they asked really really smart questions. If that's the future of game development in that room, we're in safe hands.
3. So also there: Jill Murray, Guy Gadney, Steve Gaynor, Clint Hocking, Dan Golding. These are incredibly talented, smart people and to be part of that was pretty inspiring. The combination of passion and intelligence is really something.
4. They are also, without exception, lovely people. This matters. It really matters. In fact, everyone connected with the event, including hosts Bajo and Hex were lovely. It's that reinforcement that even in an industry that can, let's be honest, be a little brutal sometimes, the majority of game developers I've ever met are really decent, generous and open people. Even if you have an issue with some game content, on the basis of the people who work in it, the games industry again comes out looking pretty good. The ethical and political commitment to not just what work is made, but the way it gets made was passionate, and that also really matters.
5. Equally, the commitment to finding new stories, stories that reflect the diversity of human cultures and emotions, and supplement the escapism of traditional mainstream games (and anyone that knows me knows I have no problem with that) is inspiring. It was another reminder of the expansion of ideas into what we can ALSO do, how we can also use this great medium to explore and share. The perceived schism between small and large studios is a myth at the level of the people making games. I think if you'd been in the room, or around the restaurant or bar table this week and didn't know who was who, you'd have been hard pressed to assign people to indie and mainstream, or big and little. It's particularly inspiring to hear AAA writers and creative directors like Jill and Clint talk about the stories they are making and that are being taken on by mass market gamers. Steve and I work in a small sector of the industry, where our work has a strong audience base who are drawn to what we do. The AAA writers are proving that allegedly difficult or problematic topics can find a broad appeal. There's a lot to applaud there.
6. We spent a day with local developers courtesy of Anthony and Jess from the local development initiative Let's Make Games, and play tested some work. It's always a privilege to be allowed to see, play, critique and discuss work in progress - it's a scary thing to show unfinished work and the developers handled it without ego and with a genuine commitment to their craft. And some cracking games as well. Perth is a really isolated place to make games. They are doing a great job. I'm expecting to see these titles appear and do well, soon.
7. Today I was talking at INDIGital, a conference about storytelling and media making for indigenous artists and creatives, which was equally inspiring. I'm going to blog in more detail about this when I get back, but it reinforced for me that we are lucky enough to work in one of the most ancient and powerful formats on the planet. Speaking to local artists and activists, for example, just brought home how ridiculous it is that we talk about Environmental Storytelling as if it's this new, emerging thing. The cultures here have been doing it for 40,000 years. We should remember that. During the welcome to country, I felt both privileged to be asked to speak, and a great sense of responsibility to do a good job. Game development is no longer, and should never be, simply the province of white, middle-class westerners. Renewed my respect for those working in Games for Change and Serious Games, something I'm not sure I'm up to the challenge of, but so very glad a bunch of massively talented people are. Too much to think about after today to talk about now, got a long flight to ruminate...
8. Long way from home. Long flight ahead. More soon.