This project is called the Stockade, and makes heavy use of the Eureka flag. For Australian readers, the connection is probably obvious, but for everyone else there might be some confusion. How is it that a group of indie game designers have rallied behind the Eureka flag? What’s it all about?
In the spirit of the indie game design community, we’ve chosen to keep with the imagery of revolution. It is, after all, an historical action which has often wrested control of the means of production from the hands of the wealthy few and into the hands of the exploited masses. The technologies and distribution networks available today have facilitated this, and although the Marxist dream of the worker owning the means of production is not fully realised (since very few indie designers own printing presses), the indie publishing model removes several steps from the traditional path. In short, the person who performs the creative work has control over when and how it is distributed.
But we’re Australian. The Communist Manifesto never really settled into the general Australian psyche. Images of the hammer and sickle represented the USSR, a far away place covered in snow. There was no connection. Australia was not formed as a nation by violent means, either. There’s no 4th of July equivalent. The Commonwealth of Australia was formed by political action between the Australian people and the British monarch.
Australian history is not, however, totally devoid of revolutionary attempts. There are four rebellions dotted through the last two hundred years or so: the Rum Rebellion, the New Guard, the Battle of Vinegar Hill and (most importantly) the Eureka Stockade. This last one is credited with some important contributions to Australian history, including the term “digger” to refer to the gold miners at the stockade (and then for the ANZACs in the Great War) and the right to vote.
The rebellion was stirred over disputes in the escalating cost of mining licenses, with little or nothing in return. The rebels insisted, “That is it the inalienable right of every citizen to have a voice in making the laws that he is called on to obey, that taxation without representation is tyranny.” This is still a familiar sentiment in democracies the world over.
Unfortunately, the Eureka Stockade rebellion was crushed by the state apparatus, but not fatally so. Some of the key figures in the rebellion garnered political support and went on to drive significant changes in Australian politics, leading up to the peaceful federation in 1901. Ever since the Eureka rebellion, the Eureka flag has carried some hefty symbolic weight and has been hoisted as a rally point for several groups, from motorcycle gangs to republicanism.
And now we find ourselves at the Stockade project. Much like the gold miners at Eureka, we want to be able to engage in the production of our own games, from idea to distribution. We want to be able to dig for the gold of our gaming ideas, and then to sell that gold on to people who want it, without being forced to pay the hefty fees associated with large scale commercial publishing. We are the diggers who will dig day and night to find this gold and make it available for your enjoyment. And in homage to the original oath at Eureka,
“We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other and fight to defend our dice and liberties.”
For more information about the Eureka Stockade, please visit the website of the Eureka Centre in Ballarat.