Arcade: Homegrown Video Games

Nov 10 2012 – Feb 24 2013

Dungeon King by Bulletproof Arcade

From Cletus Clay to Dungeon King, from hack and slash to butterfly play, The Dowse celebrates the talents of New Zealand's visionary game designers in Arcade. The exhibition showcases the work of our most talented and influential indie gaming artists in an exhibition of striking visual effects, stunning digital art as well as still images, video and the actual games to play.

Every day across the world, millions of people enter virtual worlds through video games. The Dowse Art Museum is excited to celebrate what is now the fastest-growing form of mass art with a major exhibition of New Zealand video gaming. Arcade celebrates the extraordinary skills and creativity of the New Zealand gaming industry, focusing on the striking visual effects designed by our most talented and influential gaming artists. There'll be stunning digital art as well as still images, concept art, video footage and the actual games that you can play. The exhibition explores the graphics, concept art and storytelling of some of the best games developed in New Zealand, showcasing home-grown gaming companies' technical and creative skills. Arcade will also include never-before-published sketches, models, and works-in-progress for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the development and innovation of the 'art behind the games'.

Some of the games and designers showcased in the exhibition are listed below:

Flutter teaches players about the Amazon rainforest through the magic of virtual butterflies. The team behind the game is Dunedin based company Runaway Play led by director Tim Nixon. Founded in 2009, Runaway is a division of one of the world's largest documentary film making companies, NHNZ, and is focussed on creating and self-publishing meaningful games for social networks, inspired by the natural world. [Runaway Play website]

Cletus Clay and Saucer Chase a side-scrolling online action game with fast-paced, humorous and hand-to-hand fighting. It tells the story of Cletus, a mountain man who gets all riled up when a fleet of alien saucers invade his property. Anthony Flack from Tuna/Claymatic is the lead designer/artist and artist behind Cletus Clay. [Cletus Clay website]

Sparx (in development), a New Zealand first, is a computer-administered self-help programme for adolescents suffering from depression. Maru Nihoniho started Auckland based Metia Interactive four years ago. The Sparx game is their first serious game project designed and developed for the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences of the University of Auckland and funded by The Ministry of Health New Zealand. [Metia website]

Dungeon King: Deadstorm Keep is a hack-and-slash action-role playing game created by BulletProof Arcade Ltd. BulletProof Arcade was established in 2009 by Rod Smith and Andy Wiltshire with Aaron Neugebauer and is located on Waiheke Island, in Auckland. Also from Bulletproof Arcade are the games Orbital Guard and Star Pirate: Inception. [BulletProof Arcade website]

SmallWorlds is a virtual 3D world that runs inside a web browser without the need to download or install any other software. SmallWorlds was created by Outsmart a company based in Auckland run by Mitch Olsen and Darren Green. The game was launched in 2008 and today there are over 6.5 million user worldwide. In October 2009, SmallWorlds was voted top prize in the Social Computing category of the Adobe MAX Awards 2009. [Small Worlds website]

Chuck Darwin's Extinction Squad was created by Wellington based PikPok (a division of Sidhe). PikPok has repurposed one of history's most scientific figures, Charles Darwin, into a wildlife rescuer out to save endangered species from people who wish to destroy them with giant bombs that fall from the sky. PikPok is a one of New Zealand's largest developers and publishers of games, mostly Smartphone and tablet based. [PikPok website]

Ancient Frog is a contemplative puzzle game set in a range of serene and atmospheric natural environments. With over 100 unique levels and 6 different types of species, the idea is to manoeuvre your frog, leg by leg to catch the fly on the other side of the screen. The creator, British born James Brown worked in the mainstream games industry for 10 years (including stints at EA & Lionhead). He now works independently from Wellington, enjoying having more creative control over his own projects. [Ancient Workshop website]

Path of Exile is a gritty dark fantasy online action role-playing game based on visceral combat. The game has been in development for five years by Grinding Gear Games, an independent studio of hardcore RPG based in Auckland. [Grinding Gear Games website]

Space Hawk is an arcade action game created by Star Kiwi Studios. Players escort the Space Hawk by defending it from asteroids and enemy spaceships with mini-ships via on-screen controls. The whole game is made out of 3D objects, making the game feel more realistic to play with a simulated a joystick on the touch screen. The game was developed when StarKiwi CEO Ryan Thatcher became hooked by the iPhone game Air Traffic Controller and was astounded that such a simple game could become so addictive ... and sell four million units in a year.

Voxatron is a puzzle-based video game made entirely out of little blocks called voxels. Everything visible in the game—the characters, animation, menus and text—are all represented by a grid of voxels. Voxatron was developed by Lexaloffle Games’ Joseph White and is a new concept. White has been creating computer games for 25 years, and released his first indie game in 1993. He is currently based in Tokyo.

Gamefroot is a website developed by Wellington-based Dan Milward. It's designed to encourage anybody to make, play and share games for the web and iPhone. In Gamefroot, players can create a basic game map by placing different types of terrain, pre-made blocks and tiles where they choose. Most of the initial game creation is very basic and is designed for people who have little or no coding experience. Milward and his team have also designed for us a Dowse Game based on the galleries using the Gamefroot game design website.

BigLittleBang offers a virtual world for children to be creative with music, regardless of their musical background. Players can create their own unique avatar on the site, explore "planets" and make music with others online in real time. BigLittleBang was created by Auckland-based Podscape Holdings Limited. Its target audience is the tween market, primarily in the US.