It was with tremendous shock and sadness that we learned of April Tyack’s death in January of this year. April was a leading light in the small community of Australian videogame scholarship and critical thinking. Regular readers of Metro’s Scope section will be familiar with April’s work on the games world from issue 205 on, and, as her predecessor in the role, I feel it’s both appropriate and necessary to make note of April’s immense contribution in these pages.
As a researcher, April was trained in computer science (what is known as human–computer interaction, or HCI for short), and obtained a PhD from Queensland University of Technology. However, it is a testament to her intelligence and vitality as a researcher that she was comfortable not just within HCI but across all disciplines relating to games, serving as vice-president of the more humanities-aligned Digital Games Researchers Association’s Australian chapter (DiGRAA). It was also a standard pleasure to see April – one of the few academics well known and loved by the local community of developers and makers – at games events, academic or otherwise.
People were incredibly important to how April understood videogames, a fact no more evident than in her contributions to Metro. Looking back over her Scope columns, it is clear that April saw videogames as significant because of the way they were important to people, and not simply because of any technical fascination. She wrote about games in the context of bars and exhibitions (M205), festivals and culture (M206), and, most recently, climate change (M211). She understood the global factors that rubbed up against the local (M207, M208), and, presciently, understood that government cultivation of the Australian games industry needed to be aimed at small, low-budget teams (M209) – something Screen Australia also recognised in March 2022 by announcing funding ‘aimed toward small, medium and emerging independent Australian game developers’. As usual, April was ahead of the game with her analysis.
With April’s passing, Australia’s games community has lost one of our most incisive, generous and considered minds. In her first column for Metro, she noted that ‘the continued existence of Australian game development communities is largely contingent on just a few dozen people who decide to make something happen’. April was one of those people. She has left us far too early and far too young. We will miss her terribly.