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Industry Growth Brings Gamers Together

21 June 2004

Industry Growth Brings NZ Computer Gamers Together For First Time

With computer game design courses now on offer at tertiary institutions around the country and interest in this $30 billion world-wide industry continuing to rocket, academics and local companies are about to come together for the first time in New Zealand at a University of Otago-hosted conference.

Kicking off this Saturday, the FUSE 2004 conference was prompted by the recent formalising of the New Zealand Game Developers’ Association (NZGDA), along with the new courses being offered at Otago University, Wanganui School of Design, and the Media Design School in Auckland. The event has attracted significant funding from the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE).

Among the range of topics that will be covered during the conference are game design education, small business development, entrepreneurship and funding in New Zealand, game development technologies used here, and women in game development.

Keynote addresses from several local and international figures include Mario Wynands, CEO of Sidhe Interactive, considered New Zealand’s most successful game development company. Sidhe recently received the Supreme Gold Award for business excellence in the Wellington region and creating the number one selling game (Stacy Jones Rugby League) in Australasia. Game design expert and industry veteran, Ernest Adams, Daniel Sanchez-Crespo, director of Europe’s oldest game design programme at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Spain, and Sheri Graner Ray, senior designer for Sony Online Entertainment, and an expert on gender inclusive game design, will also give addresses.

Conference chair, Otago Computer Science Lecturer Simon McCallum, says the conference is “an exciting progression for game research at the University. We have a perfect opportunity to help develop this exciting industry and by hosting this conference show our commitment to helping new and innovative industries.”

The game development industry within New Zealand has been gaining momentum in recent years, says NZDGA president Mario Wynands. “FUSE 2004 will be a key event in building this momentum further, and bringing together industry, academics and government to create opportunities for advancing research, project collaboration, and product commercialisation."

Public events are also an important feature of the week and include an open panel discussion “The Impact of Computer Games on NZ Society” at which New Zealand Chief Censor, Bill Hastings, will be present to answer questions on censorship.

The conference has attracted 110 registrations so far, with interest from throughout the country, and will be a significant event for students interested in pursuing a career in computer game development, Mr McCallum says.

The local chapter of the International Game Developers Association’s student arm (www.igda.org.nz), will be hosting a number of talks concerning paths to employment and educational challenges, as well as establishing a plan for better student support throughout the country.

The chapter will also host a demonstration room, giving students and educators a chance to show their current developments and portfolios.

The conference runs from 26th to the 29th June at the University’s St David lecture theatre complex.

ENDS

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