Gametech Conference 2012 – Opening Address

Gametech Conference 2012

Opening Address

Luna Park Sydney (via video link)

Tuesday 19 June 2012

I’m so I’m sorry I can’t be with you in person – Parliament is sitting here in Canberra.

It’s a big week here in Parliament for the gaming industry.

Last night the R18+ legislation cleared the final hurdle – passing through the Senate.

This is a big win for gamers across Australia.

And it’s good news for the gaming industry.

I’d like to congratulate all of you who have argued for this for a long time.

It’s an important reform, 10 years in the making, that will help the Australian gaming industry compete internationally and continue to grow.

The plan is to have the national scheme up and running on 1 January next year. State and Territory governments now have to pass their own legislation to make this happen.

Classification Reform

This isn’t the end of our reform plans.

The last time our classification system was updated was 16 years ago.

Our classification system is based on the forms of media delivery that dominated the 1990s: films in cinemas, videos rented from the shop down the road and computer games sold in cardboard boxes.

That’s all changed.

Media is now delivered to the handset, via social media, or it stays up in the cloud.

That’s why we asked the Law Reform Commission to take a look at the classification system and suggest changes.

They handed down their report a few months ago.

They’ve made 57 recommendations – and the government is now considering these.

You have an important contribution to make to the discussion about what our future classification system looks like.

That’s why Jane Fitzgerald, the senior officer responsible for classification in my Department, is there with you at the conference. She will present a session later today on the classification framework and ways to reform it.

The Importance of the Gaming Industry

The first computer game I was given was Donkey Kong – on an old orange hand held.

I then moved up to a Commodore 64 – playing games like Leaderboard Golf, Summer Games and Frogger.

A lot has changed since then.

It’s not just that the games are better, or more exciting.

It’s about more than just games, or entertainment, or getting fit.

It’s not just a bit of fun – it’s a very serious business.

My other job is Minister for Defence Materiel. I am responsible for buying and maintaining everything from fighter planes to warships.

The soldiers, the sailors and the pilots who train to use this equipment also rely on the work the gaming industry does.

It doesn’t mean playing Call of Duty or Medal of Honour.

It means soldiers in Townsville using instrumented weapons and laser vests to simulate a battle before they head off to Afghanistan.

They can watch their manoeuvres back on screen and learn from their mistakes.

It means pilots doing thousands of hours every year in flight simulators.

And Navy captains training on the simulated bridge of a warship, just up the harbour from where you are now, at HMAS Watson on South Head.

The two largest Navy ships Australia has ever operated are currently being built in Spain.

They are bigger than our last aircraft carrier – longer than the length of a football field.

Now they won’t be ready to operate for a few more years – but our sailors are already learning to operate them.

A company called KBR in Canberra has adapted the use of 3D avatars to enable up to 100 sailors at a time to train in a simulated version of these massive ships – to learn how to load tanks inside them, to load helicopters on them and to even find their bunk.

It is a massive step for the Navy. It means they will be ready to operate these ships faster and more effectively.

And like so much simulation technology, the software that has made this possible was developed by the gaming industry.

It’s a credit to the hard work and creativity of the gaming industry.

And it’s making a big difference – in more ways than one.

Thank you – and it’s my pleasure to officially open Gametech 2012.

Have a great conference.