SAGE 2024 showed off the full scope of South Australia’s game studios

The South Australian Game Exhibition 2024 was filled with unique, diverse creative projects.
sage 2024 event showcase adelaide games

Australia has a long history of making incredible games – and while Victoria currently pulls more than its fair share of weight, it’s not the only state working hard to foster new, ambitious creative projects in its home studios. At the South Australian Game Exhibition (SAGE) 2024 in Adelaide, it was incredibly clear that South Australia is making its own, significant strides into the games industry, buoyed by a fresh wave of government support.

GamesHub was invited to attend the event by the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) – and attending made it very clear just how much talent is currently working in South Australia, not to mention the importance of strides currently being taken by the SAFC.

Across two days, developers from South Australia gathered at Adelaide Studios to show off their latest projects – spooky streaming-themed horror games, endless chicken runners, squirrel-starring adventures, cutesy stealth games, and more. There was a real sense of personality in each game build, and seeing the delight of developers showing off their games made clear the passions and talent backing each project.

Read: What video game funding really means for local Australian developers

In multiple panels (and at demo booths), developers spoke openly about their excitement for their games and the validation that being supported by a government body inspired. For some developers, it meant having financial support to see their ideas come to fruition, knowing they had backing to continue their work. For other developers, funding was the difference between giving up, or being able to hire specialists to continue to realise their vision.

sage video game showcase
Image: GamesHub

Games in the showcase were presented at various levels of completion. Some games had been in development for multiple years, while others were just getting off the ground, with strong concepts set to flourish with financial support and/or public exposure.

One game – The Light I Promised You – began life as a student endeavour, before being fleshed out into a more compelling demo with plenty of promise. At SAGE 2024, the creative team was able to showcase their progress on a public stage, allowing feedback and more excitement about the burgeoning project.

There were plenty of other highlights at the event, including the tongue-in-cheek puzzle game Beach Bums, which tasks players with returning adrift swimmers to their naked owners, and silly runner Uncle Unco, which haul players into a fast-paced, obstacle-heavy platformer track.

darkwebSTREAMER, a psychological horror game where you’re placed in the shoes of an occult streamer facing down a dark universe of terrors, continued to shine in this showing with a demo that also appeared at SXSW Sydney in 2023. The excellent-looking Box Knight was another high profile gem, with its fun, cartoony art style and snappy action gameplay.

What was most heartening to see during SAGE 2024 was the amount of kids roaming the show floor, trying out games and speaking to developers. Younger generations who’ve grown up playing video games know their inherent value. They play games to connect with friends, to learn, and to relax.

box knight we made a thing game
Image: Box Knight, We Made A Thing Studios

SAGE 2024 seemed a good place to cross another bridge: for kids to learn about video games as a career path, and understand that they can create their own games, with the time, passion, and support they need. In future, video games will only grow stronger and more entrenched in our daily lives. The industry will grow.

Those same kids wandering SAGE, asking breathless questions and playing through bright, inspiring demos, likely came away with a clearer understanding of the future – perhaps with a passion for learning more about games, and an interest in how to become part of the local South Australian games industry.

It was also fascinating to watch which games most drew the attention of kids – titles like Punchimals, with its colourful robo-pet battles; Dungeons and Dining Tables, with its adorable axolotl protagonist; and Super BAWK BAWK Chicken, with its colourful and silly puzzle mechanics. The styles, colours, and approaches of each game on the show floor were so different, and attracted smorgasbords of different people.

As a public event, SAGE 2024 allowed better understanding of the breadth of South Australia’s game development scene, and the great work that South Australian game developers are doing. It allowed a platform for developers to share their works publicly, to get people excited about their games, and to learn more from their fellow developers. It was an opportunity for kids to get hands-on with games, and conceptualise them as more than just a simple hobby.

sage 2024 exhibition games
Image: GamesHub

It was also an opportunity for the South Australian Film Corporation to show off the value of its support to the local games industry, and to allow attending government ministers (of which there were many, surprisingly) to see the excitement around games firsthand.

To that end, SAGE 2024 should be considered a strong success. On both days, hundreds of people flooded into Adelaide Studios to see and play games for themselves, and to listen into a range of panels. With a demographic of all ages, it proved the old edict: games are for everyone. As much as it was great to see young children getting so involved, it really was a great event that allowed everyone to connect through the medium of games.

We could certainly do with more events like it, in multiple states across Australia.

Stay tuned for more coverage of SAGE 2024.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.