GDAA where are you?

Hi Folks and thanks everyone for this wonderful, at times colourful, community.

Let me be straight up and blunt, I don't know what the GDAA now now does or ever did for the Computer games industry in Australia. There I said it, may the roof fall on my head, the sky open up and 10 ravens peck my precious eyes out.

Why would anyone join? they have failed to create employment initiatives. Failed to attract business into Australia. Failed to retain local talent (let alone create opportunities for overseas talent).
I would argue that they could be a key force, through inaction and self interest, in the fractured state we now find ourselves.

I wanted to say more, but as I'm tenuously holding on with a contract job time is very little money.

souri's picture

They organised an extremely successful GCAP last year, are heavily involved with various and important funding initiatives, involved in talks with government officials on industry issues, commissioned the recent Game Development Industry Survey (the first on the sector since the the ABS survey of 2006/2007 which will be crucial for promotion and lobbying efforts for the games dev sector), and I'm sure a lot more other things that I've forgotten or am unaware of..

shaneWarild's picture

Yes they organised an event... That it ran smoothly and people talked about industry trends I can hardly doubt.

I've always wondered though whether people who are currently out of work or in work or looking for work feel that they've been well represented if at all by the GDAA? I mean take a look at the members section of their website.

"
* Attract capital and publishers from offshore
* Retain and attract talent in our local industry
"
I think they should take these 2 goals off the website in particular. If these are goals are being acheived I'm not seeing it. I've worked in the games industry for 10 years and I've never consciously registered anyone saying that they create opportunities or advocate on behalf of workers.

I'm merely asking, albeit in a pointed way, what do the GDAA actually do for us, the "Local Talent" If I join will I see any benefit to me?

In the past when things were good and easy I didn't see much point in the GDAA, now when I personally need help, and WANT to remain in the local industry need advocacy of sorts. I still see no point to them.

I'm curious if I'm alone in feeling this way?

Anonymous's picture

Well, it's a little tough for them to operate in an industry which has collapsed around them in recent years - and in a year or two may well be all but extinct in Australia. In recent years I think the GDAA has actually done a pretty good job across the board. I'm not sure what exactly they could do to salvage or create employment, other than lobby the government to inject more funding. Recently we've seen the automotive industry do this very well - but they've had some 75 or so years to get their claws into government, so understandably they wield considerably more power than the GDAA.

Agent Tom's picture

They do quite a bit. For years they've held events at GDC to assist relationship building, they support those who go to PAX, they've done quite a lot for us in terms of giving us guidance, organising events, facilitating contacts, information, all kinds of things.

I know several indie developers who have been given personal assistance despite them not being paid up GDAA members.

They have been campaigning for better government support and recognition. They've been successful in this (i.e. R&D offset, Film Vic, Screen Australia, etc) and continue to push for us.

I don't expect the GDAA to create employment opportunities directly - they only represent the industry, they aren't meant to BE the industry. I know for a fact that they haven't been inactive (quite the opposite with GCAP, GDC, PAX, facilitating communication, lobbying, advice to studios, more). I don't accept that they are self interested as their fees are relatively modest compared to the industry support they provide.

What do you want to see them doing? I'm sure they'd be very interested to hear constructive feedback about areas they should be addressing.

Clinton Shepherd's picture

I'm pretty sure the GDAA were the ones that successfully lobbied for the 40% R&D Tax Rebate, which I know has been a huge help for a lot of indies out there.

Tony Reed's picture

Hi Shane,

Your concerns are very valid and I take full responsibility for the GDAA not being as conversational as we possibly should have been, especially in the past 12 months. I'll come back to that in a minute.

Job security and the long term sustainability of the industry is at the heart of every GDAA initiative. It is mandated by the Board of the GDAA and my responsibility to determine the programs needed to achieve this. I believe, strongly, that the only reason the Australian industry isn't one of the key development territories in the world is due to a lack of investment - local and foreign - and has absolutely nothing to do with local talent, creativity or capability. And I will willingly fight anyone that suggests otherwise. As such we have been working on methods of attracting money into the local industry and, as you would expect, the need to create investment incentives for Australia.

A large portion of my time has been spent working with government, State and Federal, educating them about the industry, specifically the cultural and economic importance of our sector. To us the support of the game development industry is logical, however bear in mind government is mostly composed of a generation that did not grow up with games, have little understanding of the game development process and work within a system in which nothing moves quickly. It has been a long process, but we (myself and various Board members of the GDAA) have met with and now have the support of several Federal ministers. We are working toward a scheme not dissimilar to those in place in other key international territories. It would probably surprise many to know that we now are talking directly to the Prime Minister's office.

We are also seeking increased production funding from the various agencies around the country. It is critical that we see production funding on the same level as that experienced by other media sectors, and a successful outcome will give indie developers a chance to flex their creative muscle and ease some of the costs associated with producing games across all platforms. These discussions are also quite advanced.

It is the members of the GDAA that support this and all the other GDAA activities. Working with government is a time-consuming, occasionally frustrating and expensive undertaking, but it is critical to the long-term sustainability of the Australian industry. It is the GDAA members that are ensuring the future of the Australian industry.

The lack of communication/conversation from the GDAA is not deliberate. We have achieved a lot in the last 24 months and there is more to come. In truth once we have successfully completed something I tend to move immediately on to the next and am guilty of not broadcasting our successes. That said, almost every day I am made privy to confidential information, knowledge that I am unable to share with industry, the GDAA members or the Board. Based on your post I will endeavor to be more conversational in the future, to let you know exactly what we are working on and why.

The GDAA is not a walled garden and you should never feel like you don't have the right to question the activities of the association. It is on forums like Tsumea or at events like GCAP, Freeplay, the IGDA meetings, etc. that I get to hear the concerns of the industry and, where possible, can attempt to affect a change. Shane feel free to reach out any time (we're connected on Facebook), and that applies to everyone in the local industry. If you ever want to chat about what's going on locally, what we're doing or if you need assistance, please pick up the phone and call me.

Finally, and on a personal note, please know that we are working damn hard for the Australian industry. Everyone associated with the GDAA wants to see the industry grow, prosper and eliminate the insecurity that threatens us. This is what gets me up in morning.

All the best,

Tony Reed
CEO, GDAA

John Welsh's picture

Well said Tony and many thanks for the candid and comprehensive response. This is indicative of the the maturing process the industry is going through, not just here but world wide.

Amir's picture

Not to throw fire on the fuel here but it does raise some areas of queries (for me anyway);

The video game market is more than just console games, what about mobile and PC development in Australia?

Who, exactly, is setting a standard on the "goodness" of a video game? should it be the responsibility of the GDAA?

How do you judge a game being good? reviews are subjective (especially with Metacritic) and profits are not a good heuristic for the quality of a product given than in my personal opinion games like Skyrim, Call Of Duty and Mass Effect are NOT good games (although they all sold/sell extremely well which depresses me to no end).

How can the GDAA provide vision and strong leadership to individual development teams? again, is it really the GDAA's place to dictate such things (how can they?)