Auckland-based developer Outsmart has been granted $1.8 million to stimulate the growth of its title, SmallWorlds.

SmallWorlds is a browser-based virtual world that presents media, web content and casual games in a 3D environment.

Outsmart will use the injection to double its staff from 20 to 40, and increase the scalability of the platform.

“The gaming industry is a lucrative sector,” said science and innovation minister, Wayne Mapp, "and New Zealand businesses in this space need to get a piece of the action.

"Our investments help with this.”

That something of an about-turn for Dr Mapp who last year as defence minister attacked games, suggesting that EA's Medal of Honor, “undermines the values of our nation.”