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MoU with Japanese video games publisher

MoU with Japanese video games publisher to strengthen international linkages

(Dunedin, 26 November 2019) – On Thursday 28 November, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) will be signed between successful Japan-based video games publisher, JP GAMES, and the recently announced New Zealand of Centre of Digital Excellence (CODE), which is being established in Dunedin.

Dunedin’s economic development unit, Enterprise Dunedin, is leading the establishment of CODE in partnership with industry and city stakeholders, and will sign the MoU on behalf of CODE and the Grow Dunedin Partnership (comprising Ngāi Tahu, the University of Otago, Otago Polytechnic, Otago Chamber of Commerce and Otago Southland Employers Association).

CODE Working Group Chair, Murray Strong, says the MoU will provide a basis for developing links between JP GAMES and CODE in computer game development, and for investigating and progressing, by mutual agreement, areas of cooperation or projects.

Mr Strong says, “CODE’s objectives include creating sector networks and providing a programme of national and international mentors. Creating a national and international ecosystem which supports Dunedin and New Zealand game developers is critical to helping grow a $1 billion industry, which is the Government’s vision for CODE.

“The MoU with JP GAMES not only aligns with CODE’s objectives, but with the Dunedin Economic Development Strategy themes of Alliances for Innovation and Linkages Beyond Our Borders.
“It’s an important step in building international linkages for CODE to further reinforce Dunedin and New Zealand’s role within the international game development community. The MoU will provide significant value in terms of generating and sharing new ideas, opportunities and investment.

JP GAMES was launched this year by Hajime Tabata, a Japanese game director and previous Luminous Productions chief operating officer and head of studio. Prior to that, he was head of game development company Square Enix's Business Division 2 and the director of Final Fantasy XV.

JP GAMES developers are currently developing The Pegasus Dream Tour, a fantasy sports role-playing game that is the first officially licensed Paralympics video game.
Mr Tabata says JP GAMES is honoured to take part in the official signing of the MoU with CODE.

“Not only do we share the common goals of pushing the boundaries of games and technology, but we also feel an affinity with CODE in that we both started up this year.

“We at JP GAMES are interested in activities that involve taking on new challenges, so we hope our collaboration with CODE presents us both with stimulating challenges to conquer.”

Mr Tabata said he was particularly interested in finding a creative way to make the two physically distant locales of Tokyo and Dunedin one and the same.

The MoU will be signed at an official ceremony at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery with invited representatives from the game development industry, Dunedin’s tertiary and other education providers, Dunedin businesses and other CODE stakeholders in attendance.
Mr Strong said the MoU will be signed on Mr Tabata’s behalf by JP GAMES’ Global Account Manager, Ken Kawashima, with Creative Director, Hiromitsu Sasaki, also in attendance.

“Mr Kawashima and Mr Sasaki will both spend a few days in Dunedin meeting local industry and tertiary education representatives, while also enjoying the opportunity to view and photograph some of Dunedin’s unique landscapes. As a Creative Director, Mr Sasaki is especially keen on the role of landscapes in video game production and we’re looking forward to showing him what Dunedin has to offer,” Mr Strong adds.

JP GAMES - CODE MoU and visit – Q & As

November 2019

What is JP GAMES?

JP GAMES is a Japanese game development company founded in 2019, by Hajime Tabata, a world-renowned game creator, whose new company operates under the credo of “making the world a fun and better place through the power of games.”

How did JP GAMES find out about the Centre of Digital Excellence (CODE) and why are they interested in Dunedin?

Dunedin City Council and wider city stakeholders have been working closely with the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) on the development of CODE.

MBIE have provided support and guidance to the CODE Project Team through participation in the development of the business case and have been a member of CODE’s Steering Group, assisting the team to explore and test proposals for CODE.

JP GAMES is a new company. MBIE Senior Advisor, Seishi Gomibuchi (International Science Partnerships) facilitated the valuable relationship between JP GAMES and CODE.

The Project Team have met with the founder and CEO Hajime Tabata, who has confirmed they have similar values to CODE and an interest in Dunedin’s wider creative economy and institutions.

Why has CODE decided to sign an MoU with JP GAMES specifically?

Given the export nature of gaming, collaboration and working with national and global partners will be key to the success for CODE. The MoU will create an opportunity to understand more about gaming and game development in Japan, develop relationships and connections, and potentially look at future activities which can grow the sector in Dunedin and New Zealand.

What does a ‘non-binding’ MoU mean?

The MoU is non-binding as CODE has only just been announced and we are still in the relationship-building stage. The creation of specific obligations is not appropriate at this point.

What are examples of ‘areas of cooperation or projects’ that CODE will look at investigating or progressing with JP GAMES?

These will be developed with JP GAMES over the coming months, but one example could include a possible game developer exchange similar to the screen writers’ exchange already established between Shanghai and Dunedin.

How could the MoU benefit the local games industry?

In part, this will be determined by the needs of the local industry. However, JP GAMES has a wealth of experience which can be shared with local gaming companies. We also believe that by developing this relationship Dunedin and CODE will gain global visibility and credibility. This in turn could result in investment in our local companies.

Will CODE consider MoUs with other international game development companies?

Yes, however, these will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Why is a games company with most of its talent drawn from AAA-rated game development companies interested in working with small, indie game companies in Dunedin and New Zealand? What’s in it for them?

JP GAMES is a new and relatively small, niche game development company. They share the common goals with CODE of pushing the boundaries of games and technology. They also feel an affinity with CODE because both started up this year.

JP Games founder, Hajime Tabata, says, “We at JP GAMES are interested in activities that involve taking on new challenges, so we hope our collaboration with CODE presents us both with stimulating challenges to conquer,”

How did JP GAMES get involved with the Paralympics?

This is outlined in the media release below:


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