Video gaming in Australia

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In Australia, 68 per cent of the population play video games, 47 per cent of video game players are female and the average age of a video game player is 33. Australians spend an average of 88 minutes a day playing video games.[1]

The video game industry in Australia is worth $2.96 billion annually as of 2016, inclusive of traditional retail and digital sales.[2] A survey completed in 2014 indicated that game development in Australia employed more than 827 people.[3] In 2013, revenue from Australian game developers was approximately $64.5 million.[3]

The industry body for video games in Australia is the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association.[4] The Game Developers Association of Australia supports video game development.[5]

Video game retailers in Australia include EB Games and Gametraders. Video games are also sold at department stores like Big W and Target.

History[edit]

Beam Software was one of the first Australian game development studios to achieve global success, with a text adventure adaption of The Hobbit released in 1982 for the ZX Spectrum. The company went on to produce other successful titles including The Way of the Exploding Fist for Commodore 64 in 1985 and Le Mans for the SEGA Dreamcast in 2001. Ozisoft, a major distributor of games, was established in 1982.[6]

Other early game development studios in Australia include SSG, who developed Reach for the Stars in 1983, and Micro Forté, founded by John De Margheriti in 1985.

John De Margheriti later established the Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE) in 1996 and founded the Game Developers Association of Australia (GDAA) in 1999. The first president of the GDAA was Adam Lancman, who had previously worked at Beam Software.[7]

The Game Wizards, an Australian video game retailer, was established in 1990. It was the first retailer to sell games online in Australia when it set up its website in 1997. In 2007, the company's 22 stores were acquired by GAME and re-branded. By 2009 GAME Australia had expanded to over 100 stores.[8]

EB Games entered the market as a video game retailer in 1997.[9]

In 2002, the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia (IEAA) was established[10] as an industry association for publishers, distributors and marketers of video games.[11] A research report published by the association in 2005 found that the 76 per cent of households had a device for playing video games, 38 per cent of gamers were female and the average age of a gamer was 24.[12] The IEAA was later renamed the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA).[10]

In 2005, the top three games by units sold were Gran Turismo 4, GTA: San Andreas and Pokémon Emerald.[10] The most popular game genres were strategy, adventure and action.[10]

Team Bondi, a Sydney-based independent third-party game developer, was founded in 2003.[13] The studio was responsible for the Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 title L.A. Noire, published by multinational video game developer and publisher Rockstar Games (also popular for the Grand Theft Auto series). L.A. Noire was both a critical and commercial success, with over 5 million sales. Despite this, Team Bondi was wound up on 5 October 2011.[14]

Between 2005 and 2015, a number of other large studios operating in Australia shut down including KMM Brisbane, Pandemic Studios, Krome Studios, THQ, Visceral Games and 2K Australia.[15][3]

During the same period, smaller game developers were having success with mobile games. In 2010, Halfbrick, a studio based in Brisbane, released Fruit Ninja which has since been downloaded over a billion times. Other notable mobile games developed in Australia include Crossy Road and Framed. In October 2015, half of the top 10 mobile games in the App Store were Australian made.[16]

EB Games held the first EB Expo video game convention at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre in 2011.[17] The expo was attended by over 10,000 people.[18] The expo moved to the Sydney Showground for 2012 and was held there annually until the expo returned to the Gold Coast in 2017. 36,750 people attended the expo in 2015.[19]

At PAX Prime 2012, it was announced that PAX would expand internationally to Australia. PAX Australia was held for the first time in 2013 at the Melbourne Showgrounds.[20] The annual event remains the only PAX event held out side of the United States.[21]

On 14 May 2012 GAME, which had since downsized to 26 stores,[8] went into administration and subsequently closed down.[22]

The Digital Australia 2012 report, published by the IGEA, found that female participation in video gaming had risen to 48 per cent and the average age of an Australian video gamer had hit 32.[23] Traditional retail sales of video games in Australia during 2012 were $1.16 Billion; digital sales were estimated at $620 Million.[24]

In 2013, Australia was ranked 14th in the world in terms of gaming revenues.[25]

On 22 June 2015 the Australian Senate commenced an inquiry into the future of Australia's video game development industry.[26] The subsequent report was tabled on 29 April 2016.[27]

Censorship[edit]

Video games could not be designated an adults only or 18+ rating in Australia until 1 January 2013.[28] An R18+ classification rating has been available for this purpose for other forms of media since the introduction of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995. Prior to 1 January 2013, a video game that had content deemed unsuitable for persons under the age of 18 would be 'Refused Classification' by the Australian Classification Board (ACB) under this act.[29] Classification of video games is mandatory in Australia and material refused classification is legally banned from sale, hire or import.[30]

Notable video games that were refused classification by the ACB prior to the introduction of an R18+ for video games include: Duke Nukem 3D, Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Grand Theft Auto IV, Fallout 3, Left 4 Dead 2, Mortal Kombat (2011) and The House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut.[31] Most of these games were subsequently modified by the publishers and later reclassified MA15+ and made available for sale in Australia.[32][33][34]

On 22 July 2011, the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General agreed in-principle to introduce legislation that would allow video games to be classified R18+.[35][36] Amendments to the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 came into effect on 1 January 2013 to allow video games to receive the adults only rating.[28] Games that were refused classification prior to 1 January 2013 can be designated an R18+ rating and made available for sale in Australia if the publisher of the game applies for re-classification and pays a fee.[37][38][39]

Games can still be refused classification and banned from sale if they depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified.[40]

Notable video games that have been refused classification since the introduction of an R18+ for video games include: Saints Row IV, South Park: The Stick of Truth, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number and Outlast 2.[31]

Material which is refused classification is put on the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service list of prohibited items. Any copies of these games found at the border will be seized, and its recipient, depending on the amount of copies being imported may receive up to AUD$110,000 in fines.[41]

An individual is allowed to own, use, access or create Refused Classification items, including games (with the exception of Western Australia). But a Refused Classification rating means that the created item is illegal to sell within Australia.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jeffrey, Brand,; Stewart, Todhunter, (2016). "Digital Australia 2016". 
  2. ^ Reilly, Luke (2017-02-27). "Australian Video Game Industry Nudges $3 Billion for 2016". IGN. Retrieved 2017-06-02. 
  3. ^ a b c 7111;, corporateName=Commonwealth Parliament; address=Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, 2600; contact=+61 2 6277. "Chapter 2". www.aph.gov.au. Retrieved 2017-06-02. 
  4. ^ "Scoop Business » NZ video games industry revenues race ahead to $424M in 2016". Retrieved 2017-06-02. 
  5. ^ "About Us – Game Developers' Association of Australia". www.gdaa.com.au. Retrieved 2017-06-02. 
  6. ^ Brand, Jeffery E. (2008). "History of Game Development in Australia" (PDF). Multimedia Victoria. 
  7. ^ "Adam Lancman | Play It Again". playitagainproject.org. Retrieved 2017-06-01. 
  8. ^ a b "A history of GAME". MCV Pacific. Retrieved 2017-06-02. 
  9. ^ "ASIC Company Search Results". 
  10. ^ a b c d "Search Results – Organisations and Business Names". connectonline.asic.gov.au. Retrieved 2017-06-01. 
  11. ^ "About – IGEA". IGEA. Retrieved 2017-06-01. 
  12. ^ Brand, Jeffery E. (2005). "GamePlay Australia 2005" (PDF). Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia. 
  13. ^ Tom Bramwell (19 July 2005). "Team Bondi's PS3 title named News – PlayStation 3 – Page 1". Eurogamer.net. Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  14. ^ Nathan Brown. "Team Bondi to close – Edge Magazine". Next-gen.biz. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  15. ^ Serrels, Mark. "2K Australia In Canberra Closes Its Doors". Retrieved 2017-06-02. 
  16. ^ Purtill, James (2016-07-19). "Anything but Pokemon: The long and narrow road to the App Store". triple j. Retrieved 2017-06-02. 
  17. ^ "EB EXPO kicks off tomorrow!". MCV Pacific. Retrieved 2017-06-02. 
  18. ^ "Wrap up of the EB EXPO". MCV Pacific. 
  19. ^ "Sydney’s EB Expo 2015 breaks last year’s attendance record". Vic B'Stard's State of Play. 2015-10-10. Retrieved 2017-06-02. 
  20. ^ Serrels, Mark. "PAX Australia Is Heading To Melbourne". Retrieved 2017-06-02. 
  21. ^ Turner, Adam (2016-11-07). "PAX Australia plays its cards right". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2017-06-02. 
  22. ^ "PwC talks about GAME's administration process". MCV Pacific. Retrieved 2017-06-02. 
  23. ^ Brand, Jeffery E. (2012). "Digital Australia 2012" (PDF). Interactive Games & Entertainment Association. 
  24. ^ "Video games industry records $1.161 billion sales in 2012 – Media Releases – Computerworld". Computerworld. Retrieved 2017-06-03. 
  25. ^ "Australian games market: Infographic". Newzoo. Newzoo. December 5, 2013. Retrieved 4 April 2017. 
  26. ^ 7111;, corporateName=Commonwealth Parliament; address=Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, 2600; contact=+61 2 6277. "Terms of Reference". www.aph.gov.au. Retrieved 2017-06-02. 
  27. ^ 7111;, corporateName=Commonwealth Parliament; address=Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, 2600; contact=+61 2 6277. "Report". www.aph.gov.au. Retrieved 2017-06-02. 
  28. ^ a b Hopewell, Luke. "R18+ Ratings For Video Games Are Now Live In Australia". Retrieved 2017-06-01. 
  29. ^ "Australia's ban of Saints Row 4 is emblematic of a conservative culture | Dan Golding | Comment is free". theguardian.com. 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
  30. ^ "Parents | Australian Classification". www.classification.gov.au. Retrieved 2017-06-01. 
  31. ^ a b "List of banned video games in Australia". Wikipedia. 2017-05-20. 
  32. ^ Ramsay, Randolph (2008-08-12). "Fallout 3 unbanned in Australia". GameSpot. Retrieved 2017-06-01. 
  33. ^ "Left 4 Dead 2 is now legal in Australia in its full, uncensored glory". pcgamer. Retrieved 2017-06-01. 
  34. ^ Booker, Logan. "What Was Cut? Australian And Unmodified GTA IV Compared". Retrieved 2017-06-01. 
  35. ^ Moses, Asher; Grubb, Ben (2011-07-22). "'Historic agreement' on R18+ video games". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2017-06-01. 
  36. ^ "Australia introduces R18+ certificate for games". GamesIndustry.biz. Retrieved 2017-06-01. 
  37. ^ "Gamers fume as states delay lifting ban on R 18+ video games". The Age. Retrieved 2011-05-03. 
  38. ^ "ACT moves on classifying R18+ video games". ABC News. Retrieved 2011-05-03. 
  39. ^ "Banned: the absurdity of Australia's game rating regime". ABC News. Retrieved 2011-05-03. 
  40. ^ "RC | Australian Classification". www.classification.gov.au. Retrieved 2017-06-01. 
  41. ^ Kozanecki, James (2011-03-15). "Aussie customs to seize Mortal Kombat imports". Gamespot. Retrieved 2011-03-15. 

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