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Freeplay Independent Games Festival announces new directors

Australia Freeplay Festival of Indie GamesBilled as the world’s longest-running independent gaming festival, it has announced two new directors, Mads Mackenzie and Louie Roots, as well as its first Awards Lead, Creatrix Tiara.

The announcement comes after the Melbourne-based festival took a year off in 2022 to regroup, following the departure of former director Chad Toprak, who has since moved to Screen Australia as Games Investment Manager. During this time, the festival also received a significant amount of funding from Creative Victoria.

Read: Freeplay: parallels and game creation your way

As of this writing, it appears that the Freeplay Festival will not return in 2023, however, the organization has confirmed that Freeplay Parallels, an annual showcase of Australian games, will take place in 2023, as will the Freeplay Awards, which they had previously coincided with the party itself. Freeplay reportedly has ‘big things planned for 2024.’

Historically, the festival has been an event that focuses on promoting artistic and experimental indie game creation, with talks from a host of notable international game developers. The Freeplay Awards have also played a role in recognizing exceptional games from Australia and New Zealand, which have gone on to have a huge impact abroad, games like Umurangi Generation, framedand Antechamber among them.

New co-director Mads Mackenzie (they/them) currently has a PhD in game studies from the Games and Play Lab at the University of Sydney. They have previously created games like inverness nights and Prince of the catacombsand have been involved with the pride at stake event, which took place in 2023.

Co-director Louie Roots (he/she) is best known for operating Bar SK, formerly a Melbourne-based gallery bar that showcased small local games. He was also known for running various game installations, in Australia and around the world, that featured custom controllers as input devices.

Creatrix Tiara (they/them) assumes the inaugural role as the leader of the Freeplay prizes. Having been involved with the Freeplay Festival since 2018, they have also run several interactive arts projects, including a Fringe Festival in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Elsewhere, the Freeplay board of directors also welcomed some new additions, including Joel Davison (Thoughtworks), Darcy Smith (Gubbins), Arieah Offman (ACMI) and James Manning (RMIT). Outgoing board members include Georgia Symons (rebel beach), Dan Golding (Untitled Goose Game, frog detective), and Doug Wilson (mutationmy).

You can learn more about Freeplay and the new team on the Freeplay website.