A different type of game-playing at Parliament

This week, MPs were playing games at Parliament.

What’s new, you ask?

Not the usual, name-calling and point-scoring political games. Instead, they played Kiwi-designed video games like Grow and Golden Threads. I was delighted to be able to organise, with Play by Play, a demonstration in the Beehive of some of New Zealand’s incredible video games and apps so MPs and staff could experience them first hand. Newswire made a neat little video.

I wanted to highlight, not only the amazing talent our country has to offer the world, but also the huge economic opportunity from the game development sector. The international market of video games is estimated to be worth over $US 111 billion, which is larger than both the film and music industries. This is a huge potential market that currently sees no support from National, unlike countries such as Australia, Canada, and Finland who offer Government investment and support. There’s a limit to cramming cows on our paddocks (you can see that in our waterways), there’s a limit to squeezing tourists in Fiordland, but there’s no limit to the export of smart tech, like video games.

I love playing games but I suspect a lot of politicians see it just as trivial entertainment with no cultural impact. Anything creative produced by a Kiwi is a cultural product and games are a lot broader than just violent first-person shooters. My favourite game on display was Tilt, which is designed to aid in medical rehabilitation. Doing repetitive exercises gets boring fast. However, if you gamify the exercises, in this case, by standing on a ‘wobble board’ and guiding a ball through a maze on the screen, you can have fun while doing the work.

My six-year-old daughter absolutely loved Grow, which is a beautiful resource-use choice game, designed to communicate a sustainability message. And you can’t really beat Mini Metro, a transport simulator by developer Dinosaur Polo Club.

It was a privilege to host the event and I’m going to keep advocating for our game development sector because I want to see our games industry thrive as part of a cleaner, richer New Zealand.

Green Party MPs Gareth Hughes and Jan Logie

Here are some of the games that were on display:

Chook & Sosig
Pirate pop media quiz
Mini Metro
Poly Bridge
Doomsday Clicker
Golden Threads