2012 Melbourne Design Awards

Key Dates

West Gate Freeway Driving Simulator [DRAFT]


Project Overview

ASPECT Studios digital team produced a serious game to simulate the West Gate freeway upgrade. The game is a high quality 3D interactive driving simulation of the new freeway system between Domain Tunnel and the West Gate bridge, where players must successfully navigate from entry to exit points.

The game was deployed on the West Gate Freeway Alliance (WGFA) website, distributed to residents on CD and touch screen kiosks. ASPECT Studios worked closely with WGFA's lead engineers to accurately represent the complex new freeway design.

The project received critical acclaim and was the first simulation of its kind.

Project Commissioner

West Gate Freeway Alliance

Project Creator

ASPECT Studios


Project Leader:
Jesse Sago

Design Direction:
Ian Rooney

Project Coordinator:
Vivi Chau

Senior Developer:
Philip Greenwood

Digital Media Technicians:
Caspian Pantea
Ben Oliver

Project Brief

ASPECT Studios was commissioned to produce the serious game by the WGFA. The purpose of the work was to be the centrepiece of a public education campaign ahead of the opening of a major upgrade to the M1 freeway.

The intention of the game was to allow users to drive the future sections of the freeway with highly accurate and visually engaging representations of roads, road marking and freeway signage. After playing the game a few times people could become familiar with the road well before it was even opened. It was hoped that this education would improve road safety with more aware drivers using the new road system. The object of the game is to select entry and exits points to the freeway, and then drive along the new sections of freeway using the signs to select the correct lanes at the right time in order to reach the nominated destination.

The ASPECT Studios team were able to convert complex 3D engineering information into a user friendly simulation, playable by anyone anywhere.

The game was presented to the public by the minister in a media launch with TV coverage.

Project Innovation / Need

Our team delivered a novel approach to public education. By using a 3D interactive simulation people are more engaged in learning than they would be with just a video or animation. Also by using multiple modes of delivery, WGFA's message could reach more people.

ASPECT Studios had to break new ground with game engine technology normally used for entertainment, by applying it to education in a real world context. ASPECT had to bring together expertise from normally disparate disciplines in order to complete the project, from graphic and landscape design, to 3D modelling, game programming and algorithm development.

The project required ASPECT Studios to transition from a multidisciplinary approach to a truly interdisciplinary one.

You can watch a video here:

Or drive the simulator itself:

Design Challenge

ASPECT Studios’ design challenge was to produce a game that was simultaneously engaging, entertaining and educational. The game needed to seamlessly integrate an interactive map of the freeway with a 3D driving simulation in a fun and user friendly way so that the message was clearly conveyed. The interactivity and freedom of moment with the model was very carefully designed in order to convey the logic of moving through the freeway system.

There were strict accuracy requirements from the road engineers which we had to adhere to, in order to produce a faithful representation of the freeway. From the safety barriers down to every line marking on the road, the depiction had to be exact. Every sign had to be identical to what would appear in the real freeway.


Our methodology moves towards the ideal of post-sustainability where designers can develop concepts and finalise designs far more efficiently.
By allowing all parties to better visualise in full context and total freedom of movement, the design becomes more closely aligned with requirements. This can identify issues earlier in the process therefore minimising waste and focusing resources on the important facets of a project.

The real-time 3D model becomes a living prototype. This allows for resilient design into the future. For example, the West Gate Freeway Alliance were given numerous proof of concept models throughout the project, allowing them to quickly identify spatial and user interface issues thereby speeding up the process to deliver on time and more cost effectively.

Environmental best practice is achieved by creating efficiencies, both in the world through better design, and in the design process itself. Furthermore, by minimising physical print media and shifting towards digital media, the West Gate Freeway Alliance was able to reduce waste in printed materials.

This award recognises innovation and unique user experience in the combination of text, audio, still images, animation, video, and interactivity content for games. Consideration given to clarity of communication and the matching information style to audience.
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