Western Australian Greens senator Scott Ludlam has unveiled a new plan to boost the Australian video games industry overnight. The plan seeks to reinstate the Australian Interactive Games Fund, but also looks to turn the Western Australian capital Perth into the new hub of Australian games development
The plan, called Level Up WA, believes that, with a “small, smart investment from the government” of $8 million, Perth is primed to become the next central hub of games development in Australia.
The aforementioned $8 million would be used to resurrect Labor’s Australian Interactive Games Fund, originally instated in 2012 by then-Arts Minister Simon Crean. The fund was one of many arts initiatives axed in the 2014 budget by the former Treasurer Joe Hockey. The axing saved tax payers $10 million a year (an arguably miniscule amount when considered among the many more expensive initiatives that avoided Hockey’s monetary scythe without injury), but for many indie developers around the country, it was a death knell. Few saw it coming. An exodus of Australian dev talent followed, with hundreds of studios large and small closing their doors, staff quickly taking up development work abroad. Senator Ludlam believes its time to try again.
“Every day millions of Australians turn to videogames for leisure, entertainment and education,” reads a prepared statement from Ludlam in the press release. “The average Australian gamer is now indistinguishable from the average Australian – they are one and the same. The videogames industry is the fastest-growing entertainment industry in the world.
“We can foster this talent at the federal level by reintroducing an improved Australian Interactive Games Fund (AIGF). This $4 million would see small independent studios grow into flourishing ongoing enterprises.”
Under the plan, the Greens will also push for an expansion of the existing $26.6 million Producer Tax Offset to cover video game producers in addition to those in film and television and for faster, more reliable and on-budget rollout of the NBN.
Although there are certain state-to-state initiatives that have allowed games development to begin to rebuild — The Arcade in Melbourne is partly funded by the Victorian Government, which also provides a “living salary” grant that helps keep creatives afloat in the early stages of development, and Queensland-based developers have access to a kind of soft grant that allows for low- or zero-interest loans, allowing them to get started — Ludlam’s Level Up WA seeks to find some combination of the three, with access to a fund for marketing assistance so that devs could travel to conventions and meetings within Australia and overseas in order to show off their games.
Senator Ludlam’s pitch comes as WA prepares for the state election this weekend. All 59 seats in the Legislative Assembly, as well as all 36 seats in the Legislative Council, are up for election.
The press release ends with a barrage of video game puns because Senator Ludlam is a dork first and a politician second. “We’re happy to give whoever forms government the cheat codes, but we think the best way forward is to hit reset on Saturday and install as many Greens as possible.” While we feel that whoever takes government should have access to as few cheat codes as possible, we’re on board with everything else.
You can read the full Level Up WA plan at Greens.org.au.