Anyone familiar with the local games scene has probably heard of FTI (Formerly, The Film and Television Institute of WA). Despite the name, FTI has recently been making a name for themselves as supporters of the local games scene. Kate Raynes-Goldie is the head of FTI’s Games and Interactive program, and she is avidly keen on bringing the local scene to life. So, there’s no one better to talk to about Perth, live-action games and getting people involved than someone trying to combine all three!
For everyone out there who’s never heard of you guys, who are FTI, and what kind of stuff do you do?
The official answer is that FTI is a membership-based, non-profit organisation that works to enhance the vibrancy of the the screen sector. What that means is that we help creatives working in games, interactive, film and television to better tell their stories, improve their craft and make a better living doing what they do. For the Games & Interactive Program, which I run, this means providing support resources, such as a funding program (OOMPF Games) or a playtesting/showcasing event (Playup Perth); advocating for the industry, including lobbying the government (federal, state and municipal) for games funding and writing advocacy pieces in key outlets, such as Kotaku [http://www.kotaku.com.au/2015/11/whats-wrong-with-video-games/]; and facilitating connections and growing networks, which ranges all the way from reaching out to Perth’s investment community and getting them excited about games, to flying Amani Naseem over from Melbourne to encourage collaboration and show Perth the potential of physical world games
After so long supporting Film and TV, why has FTI taken an interest in games?
FTI recognised that the future of storytelling is in new technologies, such as games, transmedia (which is a hybrid storytelling technique which augments traditional film and tv with interactive media and games), so it makes sense for us to be supporting all forms of storytelling on the screen and encouraging collaborations between traditional media forms and those that are newer and emerging. The Canadians have been doing this for years ( I studied and taught at the Canadian Film Centre’s New Media program, which they launched back in the 90s!) The result is they’re now one of the top producers of games in the world.
Pictured Above: ‘The Future of Games’ panel at PGF 2015 with Amani Naseem and Kate Raynes-Goldie
Do you feel that Perth has a strong local scene, or does it still need to grow?
It blows my mind how creative, vibrant and inclusive our local scene is. We’ve had a few folks come over from Melbourne and comment on how much they enjoy working with our local developers and how exciting and fun our local scene is. It’s even more impressive that we’ve been able to achieve all this with very little government support. Imagine what we could do if we had the same support as Melbourne, where 47% of Australia’s games are made, thanks to state level games funding.
Do you think the local scene is still lacking exposure?
We’re getting there, and again we’re doing really well given the challenges we face, including lack of funding and being so far away from everything. I’d love to see support to send delegations of Perth developers to GDC and PAX Australia, like we see in other places.
FTI was showing off Magnetise Me and The Whistler for PGF, both of which ditch the screen in favour of running and, uh, scaring people. How important is bringing these sorts of ‘live-action’ games to Perth?
Yes, we were so happy to be able to bring Amani Naseem and Lee Shan Lung (who you’ll recall worked on MEMORI with me last year (http://gamecloud.net.au/features/interviews/memori-escape-room-interview-with-dr-kate-raynes-goldie) over from Melbourne to run their games for us as part of the Perth Games Festival. The Whistler and Magnetise me are part of a broader movement of games, sometimes called pervasive games and sometimes called mixed reality games. Sometimes they use digital components or screens, and sometimes they don’t. Magnetise Me used Playstation Move controllers, where as The Whistler was largely analogue, but did have some digital bits and pieces as well.
As Amani and I talked about during our ‘Future of Games’ panel during the Perth Games Festival, the future of gaming is going to heavy include mixed reality and virtual reality devices, such as the Hololens, Oculus Rift and Tango. These are natural evolutions of pervasive games, which allow them to now be made on a mass scale (which we couldn’t do before), so encouraging more development in this area in Perth will help to future proof us.
Pictured Above: Lord Mayor, Lisa Scaffidi playing Cat Nips at the 2015 Perth Games Festival
What has been the biggest challenge in bringing live-action games to Perth?
Because they’re all site specific and DIY, live-action/pervasive games require everything be customised to each location, which is a lot of work! It’s like having to something like Unity every time you want to create a game.
We’re hugely grateful to SK for supporting the adaptation of The Whistler to Perth — they volunteered a tonne of logistical and creative support for Amani and Shang Lun, and honestly I don’t think we could’ve pulled off the thing without them. They’re a huge gift to the Perth games industry, and I am so thankful that they’re around, running things like the Extended Play unconference after PGF and hosting us for Playup Perth. They’ve played a key role in taking our industry to the next level.
What brought about Playup Perth, and how has the reaction been?
I started Playup Perth in 2013 because I wanted to encourage a community of pervasive and experimental game designers in Perth, much like they’ve done in London with their sandboxes or Come Out and Play in New York and San Francisco. In the beginning I started getting a lot of requests for tabletop and video game testing (Wes Lamont’s COGZ was at the first ever Playup Perth!) so I adapted the focus of it to go with what the community needed.
The Whistler actually got people really excited about pervasive games, and I’ve talked to a few other local developers who want to get into pervasive games now, so 3 years later I think Playup Perth will now start accomplishing my original goals or encouraging pervasive game development, along with the amazing and unexpected things that have happened, such as regularly having a turnout of 50-70 people and having Sen. Scott Ludlam attended a playup and hang out with us for the whole night!
Speaking of which, stay tuned for an announcement about Playup Perth and pervasive games early next year. We have something exciting in the works.
Pictured Above: photo taken from “The Whistler,” a live-action pervasive game played during PGF week
How important is it to bring the public into the development process?
So important! By their very nature, games are the intersection of people and systems, and people bring so many unexpected and amazing things to the table. If you’re making a game and never test it along the way with actual people, you’re going to be in for some nasty surprises when you finally launch (and I am speaking from experience here!)
How likely do you think it is that we’ll be seeing people from the local film scene adventure into games?
It’s already happening! FTI’s own Ros Walker who comes from a film background has already been attending lots of our events and hosted our OOMPF Games Pitch night. She’s a huge supporter of games and we’ve been working together to encourage collaborations with emerging film producers. I’ve also seen people working in film who’ve also worked on game projects, including one of the projects that was in our Philanthropy in Film program.
For anyone that would like to know more about Playup Perth or FTI in general, where can they go?
playupperth.org — you can join our mailing list there and will get notified of all our events.