Darwin has opened its first gaming and esports development centre, positioning the Northern Territory for significant growth in the digital entertainment and competitive gaming sectors.

The new centre – named the Array – opened 23 February after winning the NT government’s first Territory Innovation Challenge to deliver a digital games and esports centre – scoring a procurement contract and NT government seed funding.

Located in Darwin’s landmark Victoria Hotel, the Array is positioned to become the Northern Territory’s centre of digital entertainment – offering co-working spaces, expert-led technology courses, and a range of esports facilities focused on training and community building.

For Australia, the new Darwin centre signals a notable government investment in the lucrative and largely untapped industries of esports and gaming.

NT Minister for Business and Jobs, Joel Bowden, noted video games and esports revenue totalled global estimates of US$215.6 billion in 2021, with about half of that revenue generated in the Asia Pacific.

Bowden further lauded the new centre for creating a “launch pad” for Territorians into one of the world’s “fastest growing industries”.

“Today marks a monumental milestone for the Northern Territory as we officially open The Array, a new home for tech education and digital innovation in Darwin City and where the future of the Territory’s tech industry begins,” said Bowden.

“The Territory’s proximity to the South-East Asian market means we are well-placed for future investment in the digital games and esports industry which will lead to jobs and economic growth.”

The Array’s chief executive, Dylan Bennett, told Information Age that Darwin was particularly well-situated to link Australian gaming athletes with opportunities worldwide.

“In Australia we have a cohort of talented esports athletes already, like our womens’ Rocket League team who won bronze in the Commonwealth Esports Championships,” said Bennett.

“The NT and Darwin specifically have close geographical and cultural ties to Asia, the largest population of esports athletes in the world.

“This means we have faster connections.”

As part of its launch, the Array hosted an exhibition match with professional athletes from Australia and the Philippines competing in popular fighting game Tekken 8 – the latest in a long-running franchise – which last year saw a US$1 million prize pool at an international tournament.

As part of the Array’s training initiatives, six of those esports athletes collaborated for a drop-in workshop aimed at upskilling local participants on the popular title.

Bennett further explained the organisation is focused primarily on education, offering technological courses for people “who want to change industry” or develop their existing skill sets.

“The Array was born out of my experiences as a local and as a developer and tech entrepreneur in the Northern Territory,” said Bennett.

“It became clear to me that there was a shortage of skilled workers in the technology industry here, and a lack of training organisations to help aspiring technology sector workers to upskill.”

Partnering with coding school 42 Adelaide, the Array offers courses in robotics, coding, game development, 3D art, artificial intelligence tools and more, catering for both youth and adult students.

According to Bennett, the new centre has had a “phenomenal response” with “record numbers” of local gamers showing up for its recent opening, as well as thousands of viewers who tuned into its opening event livestream on streaming platform Twitch.

"The Array is more than just a tech education school,” said Bennett.

“It's a powerhouse for innovation and economic growth in the Territory where we are enabling digital and tech creatives in our community to skill up, innovate, and compete on a global stage."