Games festival Play by Play returns to Wellington this week to showcase the best of local games and run workshops for local developers.

Billed as "NZ’s premier international games festival", Play by Play features a number of free events for the public that are intended to promote the importance of play, homegrown game development, and the industry in general.

The entire festival runs until April 22, and is supported by the New Zealand Game Developers Association and the Wellington City Council, among others.

"The quickly growing New Zealand games industry saw a need for an event of this kind," said Play by Play Festival co-director Lucy Morris.

“There’s so many amazing titles being created right here at home that many wouldn’t know about or get the chance to experience.

"The festival aims to bring awareness not only to the huge potential we have at home, but to promote careers in games, STEM skills and the importance of play in general to everyone."

Today and tomorrow from 9am to 5pm, an exhibition of games made by developers in New Zealand and Australia is open to the public at Thistle Hall on Cuba St.

Today there are also two game development workshops running, and another three take place tomorrow.

On Saturday, the Play by Play Awards will celebrate the best of New Zealand video games at Mac’s Brewbar on Taranaki St.

On Sunday there's a tabletop designer meetup.

The festival's main game developer conference, which runs all of Saturday, is sold out.

Last week, the festival hosted a teaser of the games exhibition at Parliament, and also put on a free careers information night for high school students interested in breaking into the games industry.

Last year more than a thousand Wellington locals visited the public games exhibition and attended free game development workshops for children and teenagers.

For more information, including a full list of upcoming events, check out the event's official site.