Video Game Industry

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (14:42:11): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question, on the topic of the Senate inquiry into the Australian video games development industry, to the Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: The video game industry is not just child’s play. Indeed, a 2011 study commissioned by the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association found that 92 per cent of Australian households have a device for playing computer games. The report also showed that the demographic profile of people playing interactive games is moving closer to that of the general population, with 75 per cent aged 18 years and over. In fact, the average age at that time had risen from 30 to 32 years old, with women making up more than 47 per cent of the total gaming population. It would be far greater than that now and far more gender-balanced.

There is real potential for economic growth in this industry. Indeed, the global interactive entertainment industry is forecast to be the fastest growing entertainment and media sector, expanding from $56.8 billion in revenue from 2011 to $80.3 billion in 2016, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers projection.

I note that the previous Labor federal government recognised this potential and, indeed, set up a key agency to provide support to the screen production sector through Screen Australia, which was charged with administering an Australian interactive games fund in November 2012, and 29 projects were supported in games production; however, a year after it started, the Liberal government closed it down. Consequently, Senator Scott Ludlam of the Greens has instigated a Senate inquiry, and that inquiry has recently been taking submissions. My simple question to the minister is:

1.Will the South Australian government be presenting and participating in that inquiry?

2.Will he recognise the importance of this sector not only to South Australia but to the nation?

3.Will he see it as the innovative opportunity that it is?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Minister for Automotive Transformation, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) ( 14:44 :51 ): I thank the honourable member for her important questions and her interest in this very important area. As she pointed out in her last question, it is a very important sector. It has provided and continues to provide jobs and income in South Australia. I think it was at the end of my first week as the minister for innovation that I presented at a gaming conference in Adelaide, and there is a thriving gaming and gaming development community.

As a government, we know how important it is to the South Australian economy that we work to foster an environment that encourages home-grown innovation and entrepreneurship, and that is true for any sector and industry but especially true for our potential enterprising developers in the gaming and simulation industry.

We are very lucky in Adelaide to have the foundations for a great creative industries ecosystem, and we have a number of exceptionally high-calibre companies in Adelaide at the moment. ODD Games, Mighty Kingdom, Six Foot Kid, Enabled and Monkey Stack are some of the leading companies. Many of these companies are experiencing quite significant success and some of the technology is truly groundbreaking and innovative.

Indeed, the honourable member may well have talked to people from Novus Res at last night’s TechJam who were developing virtual reality training simulators and gaming applications in virtual reality space. ODD Games has had more than 15 million downloads of their game Monster Truck Destruction, and I did get my staff to load that onto my phone some time ago but I don’t think I will become a world champion in that game anytime soon. I think they were a recipient of an innovation grant from the state government. I know they are currently recruiting two trainee programmers to develop the next round of racing games that have been a worldwide success.

Mighty Kingdom is another example. They have made it into the kids’ Top 10 chart in Apple’s App Store in 10 countries with their Shopkins: Welcome to Shopville app. I cannot remember the name, but it was a dancing bear thing that everyone loved that I think was an Adelaide development as well.

I would also add that no doubt there are opportunities for local developers to link in with the defence industry and take advantage of the growing market for serious gamification—games for education, training and commercial purposes. I have no doubt that the gaming development ecosystem in South Australia will continue to grow. Our government has assisted and will continue to assist innovative companies to grow their product offering and to access both domestic and international markets.

I have not seen the terms of reference for the Senate inquiry, but I thank the honourable member for bringing them to my attention. Certainly we will have a very good look at the terms of reference and, if it is of benefit, we will look to participate in some way, putting in a submission or participating if it comes to South Australia.

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