Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: Otago Polytechnic
Nine Dunedin studios receive CODE funding; new courses and partnerships announced by Otago Polytechnic
(Dunedin, 9 December 2021) Dunedin’s game development sector is ending the year on a high note following a $1.19m funding allocation from the New Zealand Centre of Digital Excellence (CODE). The latest recipients of CODE grants were announced today, alongside news of Otago Polytechnic’s exciting new game development focus.
The third and most significant round of grants to be awarded by CODE so far, the government-backed entity is enabling nine Dunedin game development studios to progress new or existing projects to the next stage.
The first-ever CODE Scale-Up funding grant of $250,000 was awarded to the established Dunedin company, Runaway Play, supporting the creation of an additional team to work on a new, yet unannounced game. The grant is being match-funded by the company, which has already moved into the pre-production stage of the game’s development.
A total of $150,887 has been allocated to four applicants within the Kickstart category, which supports the production of commercially viable game prototypes. These included C&C Art Studio Ltd, Longjaw Ltd, Retipora Studios Ltd and Transformative Games Ltd.
Within the Start Up funding category, which supports strong existing prototype games with further development and production, four local studios will benefit from a total of $599,730 in grants. These include Atawhai Interactive Tapui Ltd, NutriBlocks Ltd and Spookysoft Ltd, all of which received earlier CODE funding, and Usual Suspects Studios Ltd.
At the same time, CODE is setting aside $190,000 to co-invest in the development of vocational training with the Otago Polytechnic. From February 2022, Otago Polytechnic’s Bachelor of Information Technology and Bachelor of Design (Communication) degrees will include training in game design, game production and technical art for video games.
Mayor of Dunedin Aaron Hawkins says CODE is already making a tangible impact across multiple sectors in the city, just one year into operations.
“This latest milestone in the CODE journey is another example of the close collaboration between our local, national and international partners. This is the key to us creating the most effective game development eco-system in New Zealand”
“Through this funding, CODE is nurturing start-up businesses and creating jobs in a globally significant industry, whilst also supporting the creation of vocational pathways through the exciting programmes about to launch at Otago Polytechnic,” Mayor Hawkins says.
Otago Polytechnic recently signed an MOU with Swedish-based Futuregames, regarded among the best game development learning providers in the world. This relationship was helped facilitated by Enterprise Dunedin and Stockholm-based gaming industry leader Tabitha Hayes in 2019.
Per Myren, Head of Development Futuregames, says Futuregames have been supporting and working closely with the fast-growing Swedish gaming industry for the last 15 years.
“It’s been hard, fun and successful and we’d like to do the same with Otago Polytechnic and CODE.
“To nurture and help talent and students to be professional is the core of gaming education”.
Futuregames will provide professional development for staff, mentoring for student projects, review and feedback on Otago Polytechnic’s games courses, as well as a range of learning materials.
“As a partner in CODE, Otago Polytechnic welcomes this funding, which will help us continue to develop and implement gaming-specific vocational education,” says Dr Megan Gibbons, Chief Executive, Otago Polytechnic.
“Otago Polytechnic is continuing to build a multidisciplinary learning team dedicated to building games industry-ready graduates,” Dr Gibbons says.
“This includes recently recruiting several highly-regarded games developers from throughout New Zealand, who will provide a mixture of onsite and online instruction and mentoring.
Murray Strong CODE Steering Group Chair and Te Pūkenga Council Chair says these latest developments are testament to the collaborative abilities of all partners within CODE.
“It speaks to a future-focused and industry-relevant approach, which is a key mandate of both CODE and Te Pūkenga.
“In Otago Polytechnic’s case, it will ensure graduates are work-ready and able to immediately apply their skills in a range of gaming industry contexts, and through the grant streams and industry support, CODE is building a platform to welcome students into the workforce once they graduate.”
CODE’s fourth Kickstart and Start Up funding round is due to open for expressions of interest in February 2022, alongside the ongoing Scale Up and Service Start funding categories.
Application details for the CODE funding round can be found at: www.dunedinnz.com/code/code-funding
CODE is funded by the government’s Kānoa – Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit.
In Round 3 CODE received 25 expressions of interest and 15 full applications were submitted. These were assessed by an external, independent assessment panel drawn from industry experts around the region.
Details on Kickstart category recipients and game projects:
C&C Art Studio Ltd, led by Sean Lee, will receive $39,997 for the development of Frens, a match-two puzzle game involving cute creatures with colours and emotions;
Longjaw Ltd, led by Mathew Anderson, will receive $40,000 for the development of Coking Rodeo, a narrative-driven sim exploring the issues facing an ecologist working for a mining company;
Retipora Studios Ltd, led by Finn Petrie, will receive $33,816 for House, a procedural puzzle game with mechanics based on ray-tracing, set in a world where architecture is alive;
Transformative Games Ltd, led by Jordan Dargaville, will receive $37,074 for the development of Project Storm, a multiplayer adventure about chasing storms.
Details on the Start Up category recipients and game projects:
Returning Round 1 Kickstart grant recipient Atawhai Interactive Tapui Ltd, led by Mickey Treadwell, will receive $150,000 towards the production of Toroa, a game bringing te ao Māori stories to life in a non-violent, narrative adventure about an albatross returning across the ocean to reunite with its chick;
Returning Round 1 Kickstart grant recipient NutriBlocks Ltd, led by Claudia Leong, will receive $150,000 towards the production of Nutri-Islands, a health impact role playing game for children about nutrition and healthy eating;
Returning Round 1 Kickstart grant recipient Spookysoft Ltd, led by Stef Animal, will receive $150,000 towards the production of My World of Penguins, a collection of 12 mini-games starring five charming penguins and an annoying seal;
Usual Suspects Studios Ltd, led by Aaron Alexander, will receive $149,730 towards the production of It’s Only Money, a satirical social role-playing game about petty crime and the wealth divide.
CODE is the New Zealand Centre of Digital Excellence – a Dunedin-based hub designed to progress the expansion of New Zealand’s growing video game development industry. The creation of CODE in Dunedin was a Labour Party election manifesto commitment. CODE is funded by the government’s Kānoa – Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit.
About Otago Polytechnic
Otago Polytechnic Limited is a subsidiary of Te Pūkenga, New Zealand’s largest tertiary education provider.