The changing face of gaming in the Territory

Salty Games

In a remote part of Australia known more for its cattle stations than tech innovation, ‘Salty Games’ is carving a new path that combines both.

Founded by Nathan Groves and Chas (CJ) Cole, the startup is the brainchild of two entrepreneurs who, until recently, operated in entirely different spheres.

Thanks to an investment from the Northern Territory Government through the Business Innovation Program 2.0 (BIP), Salty Games is set to redefine the future of both gaming and agriculture in the Territory and beyond.

"Finding a way to blend my passion for computing with my family’s heritage in cattle farming was a dream. The funding from the NT Government helped us build the game, develop a unique herding algorithm, and even refine our industry pitch," - Nathan Groves.

The government's investment has also facilitated partnerships with local marketing services such as PRLX, setting the stage for the game's launch on the Steam platform next year.

The agricultural industry is also taking notice; Salty Games are working with organisations like RaboBank and the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association, "We’re addressing the shortage of skilled employees in agriculture, improving the industry's perception, and adding an Australian narrative to farming simulation games," said Nathan.

Salty Games is not just about play, "We have a year 12 student doing work experience with us from the Good Shepherd Lutheran College, a 3D artist arriving soon, and we’re upskilling and creating opportunities for neuro-diverse individuals in the creation of game art.

"Growing up, all I heard was that I needed to take up a trade. Now, with platforms like Unity Engine and Blender, young people can explore a different path. We are committed to providing these opportunities," Nathan said.

These opportunities didn’t exist when I was at school in Gove, or Nathan in Katherine" CJ added.

When it comes to the future of game development in the Territory, Salty Games BIP Advisor and Director for Larrikin Interactive Dylan Bennett, has a clear vision.

"The NT has the hardware and internet connectivity; the missing piece is skill development," he said, emphasising the crucial role of new educational institutions like The Array in Smith Street Mall.

As for what’s next, Nathan is optimistic: "Pasture 2.0 is definitely on the cards. Whether it’s about sheep or another form of farming, simulation games are our bread and butter."

With the backing of the NT Government, Salty Games is poised to catalyse job growth, skill development, and educational opportunities, bridging the gap between the city and rural people in a most unexpected yet fitting way.

Article last updated on 26 October 2023