NZ game industry: Govt support for development increasing

New Zealand Game Development Association one-day event attracts 240 people

New Zealand’s gaming industry came of age in the weekend, with a national conference in Auckland attracting 240 people.

New Zealand Game Development Association president Stephen Knightly says the one-day conference was “sold out two or three times”, resulting in the need to sell more tickets than initially planned.

The conference was held at the Media Design School, which has launched two new degrees – Bachelor of Creative Technologies (game art) and Bachelor of Software Engineering (game programming). The school showed off some of its talent, with a short “splatter” film called Rotting Hill playing before Indie Game: The Movie, a documentary on developers of Fez, Super Meat Boy and Braid, which was shown on the Friday before the conference.

Knightly told the conference that game development is increasingly being recognised by the government as an export earner. Four game studios are being assisted by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, and the Ministry of Science and Innovation has given grants to three studios.

In addition, the Ministry of Economic Development and the Ministry of Culture and Heritage has included game development in its screen sector review. This could mean that financial support given to the film and television industry could be extended to game studios, Knightly says.

Locally Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development was among the conference sponsors and Knightly noted that CEO Brett O’Riley attended the movie preview. O’Riley was previously head of business innovation and investment at MSI and prior to that CEO of NZICT.

Knightly estimates there are 25-30 game studios in New Zealand, with the largest being Sidhe Interactive, Gameloft and Cerebral Fix. NZDA attracts around 70 people to its monthly meetings in Auckland.

* This is part of a series of articles that Computerworld has run based on the Game Developers Conference on May 19.

See also: Indie game development is bad for your health, Insights from local studios and Microsoft pitches Windows mobile store

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