Production skills across different screen formats cross over at multiple points, with tools such as development engines Unity and Unreal being used in game and film production alike.
Acting skills also play an important part in voiceovers for video games, while games employ writers and musicians for their stories and scores.
The corny old back projection techniques of 20th-century filmmaking are giving way to incredibly photo-realistic computer-generated sets.
The visually stunning Ready Player One sci-fi movie used Unity to help director Stephen Spielberg shoot multiple actor avatars in a single virtual reality workspace in real time, enabling footage to be reviewed and reshot immediatley rather than waiting for it to go through post-production.
Disney’s Star Wars spin-off TV series The Mandalorian uses Epic’s Unreal engine. In some scenes from the series, the camera is shooting actors on a set made up of LED walls displaying environmental renders delivered by Unreal.
This means a substantial portion of Australia’s out-of-work film and TV production talent pool could get involved in games development, much of which can be carried out in socially distanced quarantine conditions.
Though games development remains a growth area amid the economic and employment disaster brought on by the coronavirus, the size of Australia’s local games development industry is holding it back.
Globally, digital games is a $200 billion a year industry. However, Australia only represents a small percentage of this in terms of content creation.
Australia’s digital game content generated about $115 million last year, of which 83 per cent was export revenue – we make games for a global, not local, audience.
By contrast, Canada generated $4 billion in game content creation, while the UK and Poland made $3 billion and $900 million respectively.
The difference? Canada, the UK and Poland provide substantial tax incentives for both games and film or TV production.
Australia provides tax relief only for film and TV, in addition to direct Screen Australia funding that games have also been locked out of.
While any change to regulation involves careful consideration, our understanding is that legislating tax and post, digital and visual effects (PDV) offsets requires only simple definition changes within existing codes.
It is undoubtedly a big investment – but one that will reap billions.
Making Australia competitive in global games content and creating jobs during this pandemic-induced period of vast economic destruction is surely worthy of speedy government consideration.
Ron Curry is CEO of the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA), an industry association representing the business and public policy interests of Australian and New Zealand companies in the computer and video games industry.