WEEK 2: CHECK-IN 30/03/2018

Research area: Blockbuster exhibition - Game Masters

  • Fun fact: Etymological roots of blockbuster are from 1942 and referred to a large bomb that was capable of busting up an entire block of buildings. (I had no idea - love a fun fact! )
  • This week I have examined ACMI annual reports from 2002-2018, Digital Reports from the IGEA, the senate release of "Game On: More than just Playing around" (excellent read) for the same period and the local and international market for video games.
  • I didn't realise that when "Game On" was exhibited at ACMI in 2008 that it had the highest attendance record for the exhibition with more than 120,000 people visiting and outdid Chicago. It also sold the idea of the blockbuster to government funding boards. 
  • Issue I have been having: How can ACMI export an exhibition on digital culture with a specific emphasis on authorship when Australia has such a minimal global role?
  • Shouldn't a blockbuster export a strong national product? 
  • So, I investigated and in the global video game market, Australia is ranks ninth in terms of retail value for the period between 2002-2018 with Japan and US, dominating all aspects of hardware and software production and Europe and UK still in the game in terms of purchasing power. Countries such as India, China and Brazil are on the rise. 
  • More than this, the economic downturn meant that most video-game businesses closed around 2002 and in 2012 and most local gamers moved overseas meaning that even in Melbourne where approx. 49% of the market is located, it was decimated. Plus funding was started in 2012 and withdrawn in 2014.
  • In the historical overview, it is stated that gamers in Australia produce for an international market which explains the absence of cultural signifiers in the games being produced and those represented in the exhibition catalogue.
  • Plus, unlike Britain, where funding is dependent on the presence of such cultural signs, or an apparent "Britishness" this is not the case in Australia with guidelines still in development. 
  • In New Zealand, the strength and reception of the Game Masters exhibition can be explained as "Wellington Future" document, released through the council, reveals strong drive toward a Wellington as a digital destination and provides financial support. 
  • The emphasis in the exhibition catalogue is also on Indie gamers and Australia is recognised at an international level as having a strong Indie start-up culture. 
  • However, unlike the Game On exhibition that, in classic UK fashion maintains a progressive narrative structure and writes Britain into the centre of the global terrain, Game Masters is more a conversation that engages with each place that it tours.
  • The development of ACMI as a museological institution also supports the notion that the museum is able to have a productive role in local cultural infrastructure as it provided a market for digital/ screen culture courses, boards and funding with Melbourne as a national and global destination. 
  • I am interested in Game Masters as conversation as a diplomatic mechanism for exhibition Models and curators such as Hans Ulrich "Cities on the Move" as a more complex global mapping.


Fantastic research findings, Eliza! I am very impressed with the degree of your in-depth research, driven by a genuine curiosity and enthusiasm. Have you done any research on the content of the GM blockbuster? what exact games were featured through the project? where do they come from? is it a creation that celebrates diversity (especially indie component) or represents the power of technological advance of developed countries?