GUEST POST BY MARK ISAACSON
A new funding initiative outlined by the McGowan Government late last week hopes to make it easier for Western Australians involved with game development to network with the broader international community.
Dubbed the International Access Pass, the $5,000 travel grant will provide opportunities for applicants to connect globally through major industry conferences and globally held events, though the trial has been limited to a maximum of 10 recipients.
There are five different categories that can be applied for, recognising the most talented individual candidates and recent graduates, Women in the industry, individuals who use gaming technology for education training or other means, and a two person development team.
In a statement from Innovation and ICT Minister Dave Kelly, the grant will enable WA based individuals to showcase their skills on an international level.
"Globally, the gaming industry is worth $124 billion and the McGowan Government is working to support local innovators through the Games Industry Pilot Program."
Vee Pendergrast, managing director of Perth based Stirfire Studios said that the International Access Pass is a positive first step for the program.
"Given that there really haven't been a lot of government initiatives into supporting games in WA (incentives for Interzone in the mid-2000's notwithstanding), I think this will be a good test case," said Pendergrast.
Anthony Sweet of Black Lab Games said he was pleased, citing the difficult financial costs for Perth based developers to attend important social functions at an early stage of their career.
"When you see the 40, 50 WA developers over in Melbourne for GCAP or PAXAus, you have to realise that represents at least $1,000 in expenses per person ... That kind of barrier puts a lot of our early-stage developers at a huge disadvantage, by not being able to attend these events and learn best practices, network with peers, and find mentors," said Sweet.
"I'm pretty happy with this ... it's an investment in skills and knowledge of WA creative workers, and provides another mechanism for business to be exposed to international opportunities they otherwise wouldn't be."
Though there are no concrete plans to extend the program past 2018, the State Government has said it is open to do so based on the success of its first year.