Hard News by Russell Brown


The next creative industry?

We talk a lot about our creative industries in New Zealand, but when we do we're usually talking about movies or music. Another sector that touches both those industries -- video game development -- gets a lot less attention.

On one level, that's fair. The giant of the local gaming industry, Wellington's Sidhe (pronounced "she", if you didn’t know), isn't exactly Weta, let alone Fonterra. But it has traded through the credit crunch, does $17 million worth of business a year, and it's diversifying. It also uses Weta's motion-capture facilities.

Is there, as they say, potential for synergy going forward?

A 2009 report found potential for the local industry to grow from the present 300-odd employees to 2829 (and annual revenues of $280m) by 2018 -- contingent on industry support.

We've sent at least one star to the global industry in Halo lead developer Chris Butcher. Might we conceivably have an industry that could employ a prodigy like Butcher in his home country? Iceland managed it with Eve Online developer CCP, which has survived and prospered through that country's financial meltdown.

We'll discuss that, and wider game industry issues, with:

Jos Ruffell of Sidhe.

Stephen Knightly: director of video games consultancy InGame, which makes games for training and branding; a board member of Playmaker, the Indie Game Developers Association; and convenor of the Auckland game developers' meetup)

And Kaila Colbin: chief marketing officer for Minimonos, a New Zealand-developed game aimed at raising green consciousness in kids.

Jose Barbosa has done a video reporter on Sidhe's business, and there'll also be a Media7 Extra segment, internet-only, where we'll invite some audience members to have a crack at the duelling Christmas controllers, Xbox 360 Kinect and Playstation 3 Move.

If you'd like to join us in the audience, we'll need you to present yourself at the Victoria St entrance of TVNZ tomorrow (that's Wednesday) some time between 5pm and 5.30pm. Do try and drop me a line to let me know.

I'd also be interested in your views on the topic, so feel free to share those here.

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