$1.19m boost for Dunedin’s game development sector
Dunedin’s game development sector is ending the year on a high note following a $1.19 million funding allocation from the New Zealand Centre of Digital Excellence (CODE).
The latest recipients of CODE grants were announced at a function at Otago Polytechnic’s Forth St Campus in early December – which included an explanation of Otago Polytechnic’s exciting new game development focus.
CODE is setting aside $190,000 to co-invest in the development of vocational training with Otago Polytechnic.
From February 2022, Otago Polytechnic’s Bachelor of Information Technology and Bachelor of Design (Communication) degrees will include training in game design, game production and technical art for video games.
Otago Polytechnic recently signed an MOU with Swedish-based Futuregames, regarded among the best game development learning providers in the world. This relationship was helped facilitated by Enterprise Dunedin and Stockholm-based gaming industry leader Tabitha Hayes in 2019.
Per Myren, Head of Development Futuregames, says Futuregames have been supporting and working closely with the fast-growing Swedish gaming industry for the last 15 years.
“It's been hard, fun and successful and we’d like to do the same with Otago Polytechnic and CODE.
“To nurture and help talent and students to be professional is the core of gaming education”.
Futuregames will provide professional development for Otago Polytechnic staff, mentoring for student projects, review and feedback on Otago Polytechnic’s games-related courses, as well as a range of learning materials.
“As a partner in CODE, Otago Polytechnic welcomes this funding, which will help us continue to develop and implement gaming-specific vocational education,” says Dr Megan Gibbons, Chief Executive, Otago Polytechnic.
“Otago Polytechnic is continuing to build a multidisciplinary learning team dedicated to building games industry-ready graduates,” Dr Gibbons says.
“This includes recently recruiting several highly-regarded games developers from throughout New Zealand, who will provide a mixture of onsite and online instruction and mentoring.
Murray Strong CODE Steering Group Chair and Te Pūkenga Council Chair says these latest developments are testament to the collaborative abilities of all partners within CODE.
“It speaks to a future-focused and industry-relevant approach, which is a key mandate of both CODE and Te Pūkenga.
“In Otago Polytechnic’s case, it will ensure graduates are work-ready and able to immediately apply their skills in a range of gaming industry contexts, and through the grant streams and industry support, CODE is building a platform to welcome students into the workforce once they graduate.”
Mayor of Dunedin Aaron Hawkins says CODE is already making a tangible impact across multiple sectors in the city, just one year into operations.
“This latest milestone in the CODE journey is another example of the close collaboration between our local, national and international partners. This is the key to us creating the most effective game development eco-system in New Zealand”
“Through this funding, CODE is nurturing start-up businesses and creating jobs in a globally significant industry, whilst also supporting the creation of vocational pathways through the exciting programmes about to launch at Otago Polytechnic,” Mayor Hawkins says.
The third and most significant round of grants to be awarded by CODE so far, the Government-backed entity is enabling nine Dunedin game development studios to progress new or existing projects to the next stage.
The first-ever CODE Scale-Up funding grant of $250,000 was awarded to the established Dunedin company, Runaway Play, supporting the creation of an additional team to work on a new, yet unannounced game. The grant is being match-funded by the company, which has already moved into the pre-production stage of the game’s development.
A total of $150,887 has been allocated to four applicants within the Kickstart category, which supports the production of commercially viable game prototypes. These included C&C Art Studio Ltd, Longjaw Ltd, Retipora Studios Ltd and Transformative Games Ltd.
Within the Start Up funding category, which supports strong existing prototype games with further development and production, four local studios will benefit from a total of $599,730 in grants. These include Atawhai Interactive Tapui Ltd, NutriBlocks Ltd and Spookysoft Ltd, all of which received earlier CODE funding, and Usual Suspects Studios Ltd.
CODE’s fourth Kickstart and Start Up funding round is due to open for expressions of interest in February 2022, alongside the ongoing Scale Up and Service Start funding categories.
Application details for the CODE funding round can be found at: www.dunedinnz.com/code/code-funding
CODE is funded by the government’s Kānoa - Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit.