Microsoft’s Chris Charla on why Australia is such a “hotbed of development”
While chatting with ID@Xbox Director Chris Charla, the topic of Australia and Australian indie games inevitably came up. Charla told me that Untitled Goose Game had “blown up and taken over [his] Twitter feed.” Developed in Melbourne by House House, Untitled Goose Game is just one of a number of Australian indie games that have “blown up” in recent memory.
Charla said, “I think the rest of the world knows that Australia and Melbourne, in particular, are just a spot for games right now. Australia has a bunch of ingredients that are in the right place to make things work.”
Film Victoria is one such ingredient that Charla points to as a particularly good one. Grants available through Film Victoria have helped pay for the development of Chorus, The Forgotten City, Dead Static Drive and Untitled Goose Game.
Australian Indie Games
Something that Film Victoria helps enable with the fund, Charla said, are non-commercial, artistic games. “Those games that may not have a huge commercial success,” he explained, “but games that have an influence on the whole scene.”
There’s starting to be a flavour of games that feel like an Australian game. The governmen funding has been incredibly important.
Another vitally important ingredient for the success of Australian indie games is the community, according to Charla. “During the economic crisis 10 years ago, Australia got kicked into the indie scene.
“A lot of publishers had to pull out and lots of companies went out of business. At the time, it felt like a disaster but in retrospect, it ended up being great because it really kickstarted the independent scene here.”
While that scene has understandably taken some time to develop, it’s now hitting its stride and, as Charla told me, “there’s a great community with studios coming together and wonderful events too.”
The events Charla referred include Melbourne International Games Week, GCAP, Free Play and Parallels. These events, he said, are “curation of what’s cool and interesting and rising up.”
The combination of government funding, community and gaming-focused events are what Charla calls a “perfect storm.” With “incredibly talented people and a good education system” and the perfect storm, Melbourne and Australia are a great place to be for games.
While Untitled Goose Game is certainly the most recent and the biggest to blow up recently, Charla also points to Void Bastards, Way to the Woods and Dead Static Drive as highlights of the Australian indie scene.
Games he’s excited to play and games he’s excited to add to ID@Xbox and Xbox Game Pass.
Thanks to Chris Charla for his time.