Gareth Hughes checks out a virtual reality set

125 new jobs is no game

It’s fantastic to hear today Dunedin-based game developer RocketWerkz has received substantial investment from the Chinese company Tencent and looks to employ an additional 125 people. You could say they’ve unlocked the next level.

I’m a big supporter of our fast-growing game development sector and very glad to see Kiwis in creative tech jobs.

RocketWerkz got its worldwide fame back in 2012 after CEO Dean Hall was nominated for the Online Innovation Award at the Games Developers Conference for his mod, DayZ, to the game ARMA 2. Since then, RocketWerkz has struggled to pick up the pace, from hiring staff to the game developments themselves. This is largely due to the severe lack of support for the video game sector in New Zealand.

According to the New Zealand Game Developers Association, 48 percent of studios have found severe challenges with funding in their early stages of development, and 35 percent have found challenges with expansion and capital. This lack of funding can lead to companies having to solely rely on crowdfunding or early access release pre-sales to even get the games out the door to consumers, which in turn can end up hurting the end product and the company making the game.

In New Zealand right now we face a massive skill shortage in the industry. 23 percent of companies have said they are unable to gain more diverse employees in terms of roles and 22 percent have trouble accessing the tech partners required to develop their software.

The launch of the Green Party's ICT policy in 2014
The launch of the Green Party’s ICT policy in 2014

This is an industry that has the potential to open up a wealth of diverse job roles, from developers and artists to marketing and game designing roles. It is really good to see that companies like RocketWerks can gain the backing they need to go on to hire the teams with the skills they need to thrive in the industry.

Game developers are often ‘on their own’ and lack the substantial support seen in other states like Australia and Canada. It’s a one player game at the moment and I’d like to see the Government join in and support.  Video games are the world’s fastest growing entertainment industry and our talent in New Zealand isn’t being given the proper opportunities it needs to thrive.

The Green Party is a strong supporter of this industry and we’d like to be able to help Kiwi small businesses thrive before it’s game over.

Gareth Hughes launches the Green Party's ICT policy in 2014
Gareth Hughes launches the Green Party’s ICT policy in 2014