How Western Australia's Funding For Games Came Together

Freedom Fall, one of the games from WA developers Stirfire Studios. Image: Supplied

The arts and culture scene in NSW has received a boost in the just-released State Budget, but if there is anything for interactive games developers, it is yet to be extracted from the detail. Australian developers still rely on state funding, with federal initiatives almost non-existent and not enough support from the private sector.

But Western Australia has bucked the trend, with the state's Department of Local Government, Sports and Cultural Industries partnering with Screenwest, to announce a $100,000 fund for the local games industry.

Western Australia Just Started Their Own Interactive Games Fund

Support for a federally-backed Interactive Games Fund might be thin on the ground right now, but state governments are doing a good job of coming to the table. Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, and Queensland have all provided some measure of support to growing local gamedev, and now Western Australia has joined the party with an Interactive Pilot Fund of their own.

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Vee Pendergrast is a games developer and co-founder of WA-based Stirfire Studios. She has been consulting for Screenwest for some time - and was the driving force behind the interactive media fund.

Stirfire Studios' The Dark Room, a game based on the live-action text adventure created by John Robertson. Image: Steam

"The interactive sector in Western Australia is crazy and amazing," she explained. "It's been utterly huge and the community has been very forgiving.

"We want to be able to support all forms of creative interactive work."

Ms Pendergrast is used to working with government. During the 2016 WA Election, she consulted on video games policy for the Greens. She recalled an interaction at her games studio last year, with former Screenwest CEO Seph McKenna.

Mr McKenna wanted to know why Screenwest should consider funding the interactive scene.

"I pointed to a TV screen behind us and it was a YouTube clip of a game made in Western Australia," she said. "[I said] "That's why Screenwest should be supporting our industry.' A small grant can go on to change developers' lives."

Ms Pendergrast's efforts paid off, with the joint project to focus on video games and interactive storytelling.

And she says it is just the beginning, with plans for a much larger program.

"We are already talking to the government about forms of infrastructure to support the games industry.

"What we are doing is creating a pathway ... a stepping stone to something much greater."

Zachariah Kelly is a third year journalist student at UTS. This story was originally published on Central News, and you can read the original here.


    I clicked on this story hoping for something more. Honestly this gives practically zero insight into how it happened other than some nagging.

      That's essentially what politics is. Nagging until you get your way. Compromising on what you can't. And hopefully keeping your constituents happy.

      Hey there,
      How it happened:
      1. I bumped into an old mate before the 2016 WA state election and got involved with writing policy for WA Labor and brought friends too.
      2. I started talking with a Greens upper house candidate and got involved with writing their policy too.
      3. I was managing director for a small studio and got vocally involved with Screenwest.
      4. At one point I needed something else to do and this was the fit.
      5. I developed the policy and then asked for money for a pilot platform.
      6. I implemented it with help from the good people at Screenwest.
      7. We announced it.

      Spoiler alert: I was lobbying for years. I hope this answers your questions.

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