Dunedin well-placed for digital industry

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Dunedin is ideal for growing a creative digital industry.

The city’s emerging game development and digital businesses, thriving start-up ecosystem, strong Maori partnerships, global linkages, and internationally recognised academic centres provide just the right mix of ingredients for success.

The global video game sector is large and growing swiftly. It’s now worth more than US$137.9billion (according to the Newzoo 2018 report), with 51% of this from mobile games. New Zealand’s video game development industry is one of the country’s fastest growing, with the number of developers and artists in the industry rising by 10% in 2018.

Respected game development companies such as RocketWerkz and Runaway already call Dunedin home, and the city is well placed to develop the talent and creativity required to support further growth. RocketWerkz, a triple-A video game studio, has a rapidly expanding team which now numbers 50 at its Wharf Street studio in only its fourth year of business. Runaways games are inspired by the natural world. Established 10 years ago with three staff, their studio has since grown to employ 28. Their games are aimed at females aged 18-45 and the United States and China are the biggest markets for Runaways games.

The weightless nature of video games means geography is no barrier to worldwide success. We already have an internationally connected startup community and growing numbers of successful global businesses.

Our citywide one gigabit per second fibre connectivity is another advantage. So is the talent emerging from our university and polytechnic, our growing film industry and strong health and ICT industries, providing fertile ground from which new creative digital industries can grow. The city’s new $1.4billion state-of-the-art hospital is envisaged to be a future leader in digital health solutions too. The global market for serious health and education games offers real opportunity.

Forget your stereotypes. The typical video game player market is remarkably diverse. Sixty-seven percent of New Zealanders play video games, and nearly half of these players are women. About 44% of seniors aged 65 years and older play video games too. The popularity of digital versions of old favourites like Scrabble, junior education games such as Epic! for reading and Prodigy for maths, and Minecraft – with its hugely diverse appeal – highlight the scope of game developments. Dunedin’s creative digital industry is poised to take a major step up, creating opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors, and high-value employment for people from technicians to storytellers.

Watch this space.