Tuesday, January 25

The Best Reward For Stealing Bread

The world’s perception of Australia is narrow to say the least. When travelling abroad, you will encounter a number of things: poor (yet humorous) attempts at Australian slang and accents, questions about kangaroos jumping through major city streets and sincere empathy for the loss of Steve Irwin.

However, Australians are more than just ‘shrimp on the barbie’ catch phrases and drop bear propaganda; we are pioneers, innovators and able to constantly prove to the world we can hold our own in a number of industries.

For example, Australians invented the bionic ear, the dual flush toilet, the first commercially practical ultrasound scanner and solar hot water. Oh, and let’s not forget the rotary clothes line (Hills Hoist) and wine cask; two inventions that have brought bogans together since 1965.

Australia is also the first country in the world to open a dedicated console video game cocktail bar. Located in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, Mana Bar provides a new way to socialise within a club environment, engaging both discerning and casual gamers alike.

The concept has been so successful that Mana Bar is looking to expand into Sydney, Melbourne and internationally.

To be honest, combining drinks and video games is a no brainer and I’m surprised it wasn’t done (and done well) years ago. It’s no secret that Australian’s love a good drink – with a former Prime Minister holding a record for downing a yard glass of ale in under 11 seconds, it’s essentially an official past time. C’mon Australia. What else have you got?

How about a vast history in gaming? Despite little recognition on the world stage, Australia has deep roots in the industry both domestically and internationally. With a presence in the industry since the arcade moved to the home in the 1980’s, Australians have produced a number of award winning games.

In 2005, Brisbane was declared a breeding ground for entertainment talent when The Veronica’s took over the airwaves, Powderfinger’s Bernard Fanning was (for some reason) praised on his debut solo album and Pandemic Studio’s released Destroy All Humans!.

Despite Pandemic being shut down in 2009 after being bought by Electronic Arts, the company is still considered a successful Australian game developer with series such as Star Wars: Battlefront and Mercenaries under their belt.

Another temporarily successful (read: now defunct) Australian games developer was Krome Studios, who were responsible for the stereotype spouting Ty the Tasmanian Tiger, a Spyro the Dragon resurrection and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.

Closures aside, we’ve been, and still are, host to some of the world’s largest gaming companies including THQ, Sony, Sega and Microsoft.

But it’s not all bad news when it comes to Aussie game developers. Although it pains me to see home grown heroes falling to their knees, developers such as Halfbrick Studios are reviving hopes, with a number of mobile game titles such as Fruit Ninja taking the world by storm.

While it may not be 2005 anymore, Australia is still unveiling and refining some outstanding talent, ready to take on the world and present the next Hills Hoist of games in a new era of entertainment.

Will it be enough to kick start the Aussie game development industry? Who knows, but rest assured we’ll soon bounce back; proving to the world that we are more than just khaki’s and bush tucker.

Have a great Australia Day everyone!

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