Despite the big fuss around the Senate inquiry's report into the Australian video game industry, this year's federal budget wasn't expected to have a lot of sweeteners for gamers or developers.
But as it turns out, one little nugget of funding has gone the industry's way: in the form of an interactive exhibit.
Photo: National Motor Museum
The federal Department of Communications and the Arts has given a $125,000 grant to The History Trust of South Australia and the National Motor Museum for the production of a project called "REVolution: where pixels meet motors".
REVolution will concentrate on the "influence of motor culture on video gaming", and will be hosted at the motor museum in Birdwood.
It's not a place you'd traditionally associate with video games — and it's the only funding to come out of this year's federal budget that has any association with video games. Screen Australia's recent approvals have all gone towards film and TV productions, while deadlines for Film Victoria's next round of assigned production investments and game releases closes on May 26.
Paul Rees, director at the museum, told me that he came with with the idea when watching his 15-year-old son playing a racing game with his friends one night. "What we're doing is looking into the connections at how motor culture has influenced video gaming, but also we're looking at how video gaming has influenced motoring," Rees said over the phone. "What were the first video games where people were racing ... when did we start racing pixels?"
The museum was already in talks with developer Novus-Res, which was in the process of building a VR racing game based on the Adelaide grand prix track from 1985. Rees then pitched the idea to them, and from there the exhibit began to blossom.
Video games last graced the National Motor Museum was in September. It was an event for kids to "try out some of the best racing video games of all time" during the school holidays.
REVolution, however, will be a permanent installation at the museum. The exhibit is scheduled to launch around Christmas next year, and Rees added that there will be some interesting technology allowing users to code their own game. The full details aren't worked out as of yet, but it highlights how surprisingly ambitious — and serious — the National Motor Museum is with the exhibit.
It's another example of unusual contributions to the world of video games from the South Australian public sector. The state government spent $10 million a couple of years ago on a project that encouraged school children to redesign the state's national parks in Minecraft. South Australia also hosts the AVCon anime and video gaming conference each year, and for the last two years hosted the SimTecT simulation conference.