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Australia;s computer gaming sector has been handed an AUD$20 million stimulus from the federal government in the form of a three year Interactive Games Fund.

The funding, which will be administered by Screen Australia, aims to accelerate the Australian gaming development industry to compete globally in a market expected to valued at $90.1 billion by 2015.

"Australian games studios are recognised internationally for their skill and originality in developing interactive games played all over the world but the local industry is coming under increased pressure in the midst of a major market shift, “said Arts Minister Simon Crean.

Locally, Australian consumers spent $1.5 billion last year in retail sales for interactive games. That figure does not include digital sales. But the government sees strong export potential, particularly as an interactive extension to film and TV content production.

"This fund will assist the sector to reclaim their competitive advantage and support the development of games in Australia, investing in the intellectual property of our creative businesses to give them a stronger position internationally,” Crean added.

The Fund will commence in 2012–13, delivering $5 million in the first and second years, before jumping to $10 million in 2014–15.

The Game Developers' Association of Australia (GDAA) praised the move and said it complemented the opportunities that the National broadband Network would bring.

"The games industry has gone beyond the entertainment space with games now used in education, healthcare and training. We look forward to working with the Federal Government to create a program that supports growth and stability, secures jobs, encourages innovation and creativity, and promotes investment in Australian talent and capability globally," GDAA chief executive Tony Reed said.

Screen Australia will develop the funding guidelines in consultation with the sector and administer the Fund in its capacity as the government's key agency for support to the screen production sector.

“Together with some good businesses, international investment and local start-ups there's world-class entrepreneurial drive in our IT and cultural industries. If we do it properly, treat it as a down payment, because there's much to be done into the future,” Crean said. ®

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