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Level Up: Going deeper into video game culture


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Film critic Roger Ebert famously said that ‘for most gamers, video games represent a loss of those precious hours we have available to make ourselves more cultured, civilized and empathetic.’ Yet art museums have been exhibiting video games for almost thirty years, and the majority of Australian households – and almost all families with children – are playing them. Video games aren’t leaving.

So, what’s the appeal? What do video games contribute to storytelling, stress-relief and society?

As part of Freeplay 2015, we’ll explore the prevailing issues and opportunities of game culture. Speakers Lawrence Leung, Vanessa Toholka, Scott Edgar and Leena van Deventer will talk about inclusivity and diversity amongst both players and developers, the influence of technologies like augmented reality and human motion sensing, criticisms of the industry and the industry’s relationship to its critics. They’ll reveal ways in which concepts born in games are finding their way into our everyday lives through so-called ‘gamification’.

Stretch your thumbs, pull up a seat and press ‘start’ to find out what’s next for the medium that operates at the perimeters of technology, art and innovation.


Lawrence Leung

Lawrence is an award winning stand-up comedian, screenwriter and documentary-maker. He created the ABC1 comedy shows Lawrence Leung’s Unbelievable and the AFI Award-nominated Choose Your Own Adventure and co-wrote and starred in ABC2’s action/comedy series Maximum Choppage. Recently, he wr... Read more

Vanessa Toholka

Vanessa Toholka is a management consultant, with over fifteen years experience working in digital content and strategy. She cut her teeth in New Media and Digital Services at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, before moving into professional services where she specialises in knowledge manageme... Read more

Leena van Deventer

Leena van Deventer is a writer, game developer, and educator from Melbourne. In 2013 she co-founded WiDGET, a support group for women and non-binary game developers with over 800 members. In 2016 she co-authored Game Changers: From Minecraft to Misogyny, the fight for the future of videogames for Af... Read more

Scott Edgar

Scott Edgar has been peddling comedy music on radio, television and stage for twenty years with his compadres in Melbourne group Tripod.  Tripod are deep in preparation for the premiere of their love letter to gaming and gamers, symphonic opus This Gaming Life, orchestrated and c... Read more


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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Centre stands. We acknowledge and pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their Elders, past and present, as the custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.