An interesting topic came up on the Screen Play blog this morning, how little Australian culture there is in games and would you support games with Australian content.
The post inspired me to write out this comment, it turned out pretty big so I’ll post it here for posperity…
As an Australian hobbyist game maker and who has travelled the world quite a bit (I’m currently living in South Africa) I’ve given plenty of thought to this subject.
My first complete game Dispell (which you can download for free off my website by the way) is a kid’s game featuring a menagerie of Australian marsupials. But sticking Australian animals in your game doesn’t really capture any our culture the way that some of our TV and Films do.
There are two main difficulties, first and foremost, games are bloody hard to make (if you don’t agree go and try it yourself). Secondly, our cultural history is very short and not very easy to define.
My brother in law owns a house in Wales that’s three hundred years old, around the corner from it is a castle over a thousand years old, they’re still arguing about how old the pyramids are… but they’re bloody old, we by comparison are a very, very young culture!
The usual topics (Ned Kelly, Gallipoli etc) are the few well know stories in our brief 220 year history that best help define what we are, for me it’s.
Gallipoli – no matter how crappy the job is get in there and have a go (I recommend every Australian go there and see for yourself).
Ned Kelly – Aussy ingenuity.
Outside of these classic events it all gets a bit muddy, potpourri is a great analogy, we’re a big melting pot of cultures, there’s so much here that there’s few obvious defining traits, we know it’s in there somewhere and have some idea what it is but it’s tough to write it down.
One cultural trait you can’t deny is that there’s a subtlety to our patriotism, unlike the Americans who in every movie and game no matter what the actual outcome “win the war”, I can’t imagine us making a Gallipoli game or movie where we “win” something that by historical account was a stalemate at best. It’d be tough to make a compelling game experience around a stalemate.
So outside of sports games which are difficult to inject cultural references into, what other events or culture could we wrap some game play around (it can’t just be a story because we all know action adventure games rarely work)
SAS – A Call of duty 4 style shooter based on our SAS would be pretty cool, it’d have to be nice and subtle on the “we kick azz” and trumpet blowing.
Ned Kelly – obvious shooter, I wonder how you could extrapolate the inventiveness/ingenuity side of the story.
Croc Hunter – not real sure what this would look like, if they can sell fishing and deer hunting games surely this should work.
I’d love to see some more Australian culture in games and would gladly support it with my hard earned dollars but I understand why we don’t see it. My current work in progress is a Kart racer/drinking game, not sure if that’s specifically Australian, but there’s bound to be some of our culture hidden in there somewhere!