Auckland based gaming studio Mad Carnival Entertainment are the experts in creating games.
From children’s games to educational tools and multi-player fantasy worlds.
But they’re now moving into the big leagues.
Director Samantha Ramlu says they started developing a relationship with a large social platform last year, and started discussing the potential for games on their platform.
But it’s so market sensitive, we can’t tell you more about it yet.
“It's quite exciting to be able to get this opportunity where we're able to look at something that's going to be quite new for this platform,” Ramlu says.
The Auckland company has just set up a Dunedin based satellite studio with support from the Centre of Digital Excellence, otherwise known as CODE.
‘We looked around the country to see where else we could open up and extend the team and Dunedin just gave us this amazing opportunity,” says Ramlu.
She says the CODE programme offers funding that isn’t available anywhere else in New Zealand.
It’s only been running for around a year in a half, but in that time, 19 studios and almost 70 jobs have been created or supported.
CODE is funded by Kānoa the government’s Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit.
Based in Dunedin, it aims to expand New Zealand’s burgeoning video gaming industry.
“The aim is by 2025 that this sector will be exporting around $1 billion worth of product,” says Kānoa’s Kate Styles.
That goal is on track - the industry exported $276 million in product over the past year alone.
David Clark, Minister for the Digital Economy says the sector is growing around 60 per cent faster than the economy overall, with estimated value added increasing 7.7 per cent annually from 2015-2020.
It is now a major exporter for New Zealand and contributed $6.6 billion to the economy in 2019.
CODE’s director Tim Ponting says the games business has a lot of advantages in a Covid world.
“It's a digital export so transport infrastructure doesn't affect us.”
“In times where there are lockdowns or there's a lot of people off work, then there's more people playing casual games in particular and we've seen that growth,” he adds.
Jobs in the sector grew 30 per cent last year, now CODE’s targeting the next generation.
It’s working with schools and helping tertiary institutions design courses to support pathways into the industry.
As of this year, Otago Polytechnic’s Bachelor of Information Technology and Bachelor of Design degrees will include training in game design, game production and technical art for video games, which provides a valuable talent pool for current gaming studios to choose from.
Although the industry is growing, there’s still some areas to work on.
Female involvement in the sector reduced last year.
Mad Carnival director Samantha Ramlu wants to create a more diverse industry.
“For women, for people of colour, for people who might not see this as a traditional career path and part of that is forging the way on what's possible in this sector,” she says.
Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins says as New Zealand’s first and only centre for digital excellence in gaming, it’s exciting to witness the ongoing development of this innovative sector in the south.
“As a result of CODE we are already attracting small, medium and mature entrepreneurs to the city,” he says.
"The ultimate goal is driving low weight, high value exports for New Zealand on the back of a vibrant interactive media industry. CODE is taking a collaborative approach to make this happen, working with mana whenua, industry, tertiary institutions and secondary schools."
It’s hoped the CODE model can be rolled out nationwide, so more regions can have the same success.