Games development – it's not something that springs to mind when many people think about New Zealand's up and coming industries. But maybe those people should start.
The games industry is a unique form of entertainment media combining writing, arts, marketing and, of course, technical expertise. Software developers and programmers are vital to building the infrastructure of video games of any size.
With a skills shortage in New Zealand1, is there room for the games development sector to grow to meet the rest of the world?
Where is games development in New Zealand?
New Zealanders are huge consumers of video games – 98 per cent of Kiwi homes with children have some form of computer game, and 53 per cent hold five or more screens. With so many of us playing, does that mean production could be good for our economy? A considerable 73 per cent of Kiwis seem to think so – and with 20 per cent growth in digital games sales between 2013 and 2016, they could be right.2
In terms of export revenue, the local games development industry celebrated a milestone last year with a 12 per cent annual growth rate generating $100 million. From a consumer perspective, New Zealanders collectively spent $125 million on games in retail stores and $299 million on digital and mobile games in the same year.3
The New Zealand Game Developers Association (NZGDA) identified 29 individual studios across the country, with the greatest concentration in Auckland, followed by Wellington.3
What skills are needed in NZ games development?
Currently, only 500 professionals are employed in the local industry, including creative and tech roles. Programmers represent the majority of skilled workers in the field (29 per cent), followed by artists (28 per cent).
Availability of skills was cited by 42 per cent of NZ games studios as a barrier to growth. Despite representing the majority of workers, programmers are still the most in-demand professionals. With 93 new jobs predicted in the 2017-18 financial year, skilled IT workers could look to the games industry for career prospects.
Other cited growth barriers include gender diversity, with only 17 per cent of games workers being female3 – even lower than the wider tech industry (27 per cent)1.
Games development is a currently overlooked area for progress in New Zealand. To build world-disrupting games, you need talented programmers. For exclusive advertising to the best skilled tech and IT workers in New Zealand, talk to 920 Career Agents today.
1 New Zealand Digital Skills Forum, Digital Skills for a Digital Nation report.
2 Interactive Games and Entertainment Association, Digital New Zealand report 2018
3 New Zealand Game Developers Associaton, Growth of NZ Games Exports 2017