Screenwest announces the first five games for its $100,000 Interactive Pilot Fund

Find out which Western Australian developers picked up the first state government funding for video games in over a decade.
Aug 15, 2019

You might have seen back in May that for the first time in over a decade, video games developers in Western Australia would have direct content funding support from their state government.

Screenwest is the agency that administers the Interactive Pilot Fund and first round offered $100,000 for creators of interactive experiences in Western Australia.

Well the first recipients of the fund have now been announced and include dungeon crawling dating sims, Virtual Reality ghost hunting adventures, a 3d adventure games designed with accessibility at their core, a cat themed puzzle game and an alternate reality game based around those “I am not a robot" CAPTCHA tests.

SUCCESSFUL FUNDING RECIPIENTS

  • CourtFiends - A PC game developed by Nathan Scott and Carly McGowan that combines narrative-based dungeon crawling where you can date the demons you defeat in turn-based tennis combat.
  • GhostCam - A VR choose your own adventure game with 360 degree video developed by Amy Louise Doherty and Brian Goodwin where you hunt for ghosts.
  • Lost and Hound - A PC game developed by Brian Fairbanks of Daisy Ale Soundworks, featuring an inquistive dog called Biscuit and designed to be played by people with different levels of ability, including those who are blind.
  • Nekograms - A mobile puzzle game by Nick Lowe, Lauren Fletcher, Ben Hammersley, and Minh Tran of Hungry Sky about making cats fall asleep on pillows.
  • ReCaptive - A PC alternate reality game by Matthew Dyet, Jess Watson, Morgan White and Damon Reece where you help an AI escape it's prison by solving real world puzzles.
GhostCam by Amy Doherty and Brian Goodwin

Willie Rowe is the CEO of Screenwest and he says that there was a big opportunity for Western Australian screen creators to take part in a $200 billion dollar export industry.

“We realised quite some time ago now that games, VR and other emerging platforms were really becoming quite important and looked at the potential of it for Western Australia given the success that games has had in developing particularly in Victoria and Queensland with support of their screen funding agencies,” said Rowe.

“We had the opportunity last year with some additional funding we received to put some money aside for a pilot fund for these sorts of technologies and we put aside $100,000 really just to test the waters in Western Australia to see how successful it could be.”

Vee Pendergrast, Screenwest’s Interactive and Games Consultant has been working on this funding program since November last year and she says that this first pilot round is an important step.  

“I’m really pleased, I think we’ve picked the best possible applications, I’m really happy with the way the assessment came out,” said Pendergrast.

“All these projects bar one were already existing in some form or another and this is about sharpening them up and building up their market presence and getting them out to a platform near you.”
Lost and Hound by Brian Fairbanks of Daisy Ale Soundworks

Funding recipient Amy Doherty whose team is developing the interactive 360 video VR game GHOST CAM says that interactive projects allowed her to tell stories in different ways to film and she was excited to get started.

“I’m pretty thrilled I was excited that this fund even was created, I’m so looking forward to not only what I can do but what everyone else does with the funding,” said Doherty.

“I like [VR] because in a sense you’re building a world and story doesn’t have to be just words on a page, I like this challenge and freedom of telling a story, it’s not just storytelling but actually storyliving.”

Kalgoorlie based developer Brian Fairbanks says his successfully funded game LOST AND HOUND was about making a video game experience for players who are blind and that they miss out on so much of our cultural experiences because media isn’t made for them.

“[LOST AND HOUND] is pretty much a scent tracking dog simulator game and the kind of sneaky tricky design in it is that it’s created to be fully accessible through mechanics and alternate means of delivering information to all levels of visual impairment as well as other disability types as well,” said Fairbanks.

“I’ve focused on the idea that there are so few games for the blind that are viable and I wanted to kind of do it backwards, most developers will finish the game and then they will look backwards to see what they can do to make it accessible and I wanted to start the opposite way, just to see what would happen.”

Matt Dyet whose game ReCaptive plays with the concept of AI and humanity and features an alternate reality storyline that goes outside the game window into the real world.

He says this funding was an exciting moment for his team and that it would make a huge difference to their lives.

“This funding allows me to pay staff, that’s basically the long and short of it, it’s a very flat structure so everyone just kind of leads themselves and I can pay them to work on this,” said Dyet.

“For game developers here in WA, that really is a big deal, when you’re working on what really is a passion project, it’s something we really love and we want to see come to life.”

Screenwest’s CEO Willie Rowe hopes that this new funding might help attract some game developers back to Western Australia who left the state for other opportunities and give new creators opportunities to developer their careers in their home state.

“With the success of the traditional screen sector here in Western Australia we’re seeing directors, producers and creators coming back to WA to make projects, to make movies, to make documentaries which is terrific,” said Rowe.  

“We also think that there’s enormous opportunity with the creatives in the gaming sector to recognise that they can follow their career and their passions from Western Australia.”