Publication Profile: SIFTER

Publication Profile: SIFTER

By Kristy Nguyen

Answers submitted by Gianni Di Giovanni, Executive Producer of SIFTER.

Tell us about SIFTER and how it got started.
SIFTER is a side project for us. We're all working radio journalists at major outlets (ABC, Triple R, and RTRFM) and we wanted to have a platform to meaningfully engage with the biggest media genre in the world: video games.

Did you know that games eclipse film and television in scale? It's actually not even close if you look at a pure dollar value, which isn't exactly how I like to think about it as an artistic medium, but it's still a good indication. A lot of people probably think of games as something just for kids or teens, but the average age in Australia for players is 35, and women over 55 game more than men.

SIFTER exists because we wanted to have the sort of conversations about games that we do about books, film, and television. Mitch Loh, Scott Quigg, and I all studied together and at the end of our journalism degrees, we wanted a project that could act as a nice portfolio piece when applying for jobs.

We're celebrating our eighth anniversary in September and are gainfully employed in the media industry, but it still feels like really valuable work telling stories that don't get told as much as they should. We've been Highly Commended in the Samsung IT Journalism Awards for the last two years running and won an Australian Podcast Award for Lightmap.

What topics does SIFTER cover across its publications?
SIFTER covers video games, interactive media, and everything that comes with that creative industry. We look at the politics of games, speak to creatives like developers, musicians, and artists, and talk to researchers who are exploring interactivity and our relationship with games.

We've got three main pillars each served by their own podcast: interviews with creative folk in video games on Lightmap; our news wrap show, Walkthrough, that summarises the big stories of the week; and Drop Rate, our newest review show, which casts a critical eye and features interesting conversations with critics from other outlets.

We've done feature stories on getting proper creative credits for game developers, met interesting live-streamers who put on a virtual costume for their fans, and have spoken to some of the most interesting people making games. We're really interested in the creative and cultural value of games - that's a big focus of our work.

Who makes up the editorial team?
I'm the Executive Producer of SIFTER, which means I've got oversight editorially, and I manage the rest of the team. Mitch Loh is our Senior Producer and Production Lead who looks after the actual production process in most cases. In reality, we're pretty flat, everyone has a hand in everything, and one of our strengths is that anyone can step in to help another team member out.

What are some of your favourite articles published so far this year?
We just published an interview with Sam Barlow, a game developer who started his career making traditional video games, but now makes games that are primarily made by filming real actors on sets.

Immortality is a game that has the player exploring different video clips scrolling back and forth through footage from a number of fake genre films to learn an overarching story of the one actor who connects them all. It was fascinating to hear how this sort of game actually works and learn more about something that most people wouldn't consider a game. It was honestly a great chat and I hope you'll take a listen.

I'm also really proud of our annual lists of Australian-made games - we make an incredible number of world-leading titles right here at home. Since 2019, we've collected those titles into the definitive list of everything published that year. We've already got a great collection so far and look forward to that in December.

Are there any upcoming events you're looking forward to covering?
The biggest event on the Australian calendar for games is Melbourne International Games Week. It's a big industry and consumer showcase of the best minds in video game development. Like any big event, even though it's the smaller arty scene that brings the most fascinating stuff to the table, Freeplay Parallels is not to be missed. If you aren't in Victoria in early October, you'll definitely wish you were.

What advice would you give to PRs hoping to pitch to SIFTER?
We're always looking for interesting interviews. We love speaking to creative types about their work in games, big, small, or anything in between, there is a lot of ground for us to cover. Academics as well if they've done some fascinating new research that's right within our wheelhouse. We're obviously really interested in those strong conversations, so we like people who can be brave and open to an honest chat.

We are also very interested in reviewing the latest titles and hardware. Our team is pretty broad in their tastes - we just love to play and check out the latest gear. We aren't interested in Web3 or Crypto gaming. It's not going to be part of any real future in games, and it actually takes the fun out of playing and experiencing interactive media.

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Gianfranco Di Giovanni

Acting Content Director


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