Game on at SA Film studios

Game studios are being embraced as the next big thing at an inaugural exhibition at the South Australian Film Corporation.

Feb 06, 2023, updated Feb 06, 2023
SA Film Corporation CEO Kate Croser is speaking at the South Australian Game Exhibition on Friday. Photo: Supplied

SA Film Corporation CEO Kate Croser is speaking at the South Australian Game Exhibition on Friday. Photo: Supplied

SA Film Corporation (SAFC) chief executive officer Kate Croser said the event shines a light on a rapidly growing sector that now boasts makers like Team Cherry studio and one of the nation’s most successful games, Hollow Knight.

Eighteen South Australian games studios are setting up in the sound stage to meet their public and offer some unique playing time at the South Australian Game Exhibition event on Friday.

We Have Always Lived in the Forest studio will be there. Founder Chantal Ryan was studying anthropology and English when she came up with the idea for a psychological horror role-playing game, DarkwebStreamer, about eighteen months ago.

Ryan joined forces with a Canadian-based friend over a game of Dungeons and Dragons, then taught herself coding.

DarkWebStreamer is being created by We Have Always Lived in the Forest games studio.

Now the Adelaide-based game development studio is being wooed by some of the largest publishers in the world, with Ryan saying a deal is likely to be “done and dusted” in the next few months.

“I posted our game as a passion project and we were instantly approached by publishers, investors in the video game industry,” Ryan said, adding that the State Government helped the studio go to the PAX 2022 gaming event in Melbourne.

“At PAX we had a mind-blowing crowd spilling out of our space,” she said.

DarkwebStreamer utilises the studio’s own proprietary Artificial Intelligence technology that generates a random experience in the game that explores “the sinister undertones of contemporary influencer culture”.

Now Ryan wants to introduce the company to the South Australian public and to support the local industry she describes as a “beautiful, symbiotic ecosystem”.

Croser said SAFC is building relationships with game developers as the rapid success of game start-ups is now “a reflection on the direction that the industry is taking and the way audiences are headed”.

She said there is increasing crossover with film and television content producers using game engine technology and “games are going to be a really big part of how it creates screen content in the future”.

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Game development is a major growth area across the state. Croser said previous analysis shows the state’s game development businesses grew at an estimated annual rate of 39 per cent over the five years to 2017-2018.

Some of the studios exhibiting their increasingly sought-after games are products of SAFC investment and the state’s innovative video game rebate introduced in 2020, later replicated by New South Wales, Queensland and Federal governments.

Among other SA success stories is Foxie Games having one of its offerings played by more than 30 million users.

Award-winning production and development company We Made a Thing (WeMat) studio saw its first major game release Box Knight awarded the Indie Showcase Award at PAX 2022.

With Hollywood experience in a boutique commercial package, WeMat produces work across feature film, television, web series, games and digital.

International technical and creative services provider to the global video games industry, Keywords Studios, announced In October last year that it would be setting up Tantalus South in Adelaide.

Established in 1998, Keywords has grown to 170 staff in Australia and now has more than 70 facilities in 26 countries.

Across the games and entertainment industry, clients include Bandai Namco, Bethesda, Electronic Arts, Epic Games, Konami, Microsoft, Netflix, Riot Games, Square Enix, Supercell, TakeTwo, Tencent and Ubisoft. Recent titles worked on include Anthem, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Valorant, League of Legends, Fortnite, Clash Royale and Doom Eternal.

Croser says the upcoming event would help build new relationships and grow existing ones.

“We’re putting on a really exciting game showcases, with ideas to be shared, and an opportunity for game developers to see each other’s work,” Croser said, adding that fans and the wider community can try games and meet their makers.

Croser said the sound stage is hosting the event as the SAFC experiences a break in production at its Glenside studios with New Boy starring Cate Blanchett having wound up. Three new film projects are set to be announced for mid-February.

Most recent figures for the South Australian game industry come from a report by Deloitte Access Economics which found the total contribution of game development expenditure in South Australia was $24 million in 2019-20, employing 276 FTE employees.

Studios exhibiting at the South Australian Game Exhibition include: A Few Dragons; Blue Moon Games; Dino Rocket Games; Golden Age Studios; Half Giant; Juicy Cupcake; Melonhead Games; Mighty Kingdom; Mini Mammoth Games; Lamplight Forest & Orchid of Redemption; Ortum Games; Paper Cactus Games; Planet Pumpkin; Pond Games; Split Symmetry; Stellar Advent; We Have Always Lived in the Forest; We Made a Thing Studios. Team Cherry will not be at the event.

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