Gareth Hughes checks out a virtual reality set

Start new game jobs – insert policy

I’m pretty excited. I’m off to Melbourne today to attend the Southern Hemisphere’s largest interactive media and games conference – PAX – to research supporting our games export industry.

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

It sounds like fun, but it’s no game. Already, with minimal support, our games and app building sector’s exports are worth $89 million a year. The sector employs hundreds in well-paying jobs.

The international video games market is estimated to be worth $US 111 billion, according to Gartner Research, more than the film or music industries. It’s a huge market, but New Zealand suffers from a lack of support compared to Australia, the U.S, Canada and other countries like Finland, that offer direct government investment.

The National Government has poured tens of millions of dollars into the film industry but our games sector, despite using many of the same skills, software and expertise, can’t access that funding.

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

As well as attending PAX, I’m meeting developers, industry associations, and representatives from the Victorian State Government who have made a concerted effort to promote and support the games industry. My plan is to get new ideas to build on the Green Party’s already strong policy to support the games sector. I’m especially interested in touring the ‘Arcade’, a Melbourne-based co-working games development hub and ‘The Joint’, which is designed to promote virtual reality development.

I want to make sure New Zealand has a thriving games development sector so we don’t miss out and say ‘game over’ to high-paying jobs, high value, creative exports. There’s a limit to how many tourists we can pack in Fiordland and how many cows we can cram on paddocks, but there’s no limit to the potential exports of software, apps, and games.

Gareth Hughes checks out a virtual reality set
Gareth Hughes tries out a virtual reality set