The country’s top video game industry figures are starting to tap into the potential of the Dunedin-based New Zealand Centre of Digital Excellence (CODE). Today CODE announced its second-ever Scale-Up grant has been awarded to Mad Carnival Entertainment, a new Dunedin-based satellite studio from Auckland creative powerhouses Method and M Theory.
The $250,000 grant comes hot on the heels of the $1.19m in CODE funding packages awarded to nine Dunedin studios late last year, which has further bolstered the city’s flourishing game development eco-system. CODE is now starting to deliver tangible outcomes in line with the Government’s ambition to grow a $1b video game industry for New Zealand, from a Dunedin hub.
The launch of Mad Carnival has been spearheaded by Method’s Managing Director and prominent creative tech and diversity advocate Samantha Ramlu, who says it’s testament to the traction CODE has gained in the industry over a short space of time.
“We believe CODE offers us an opportunity like no other in Aotearoa and allows us to invest further in our talent and create a slate of games to really elevate the potential for Mad Carnival.
“With the vocational training pathways and collaborative local game development eco-system already in place, we can see the potential to grow in Dunedin, with the knowledge that our future employment needs can be fulfilled locally”.
Although still largely under wraps, the studio’s first large project is being developed in partnership with a major international social media platform, with a scheduled release date in Q3 2022 and more details to follow closer to launch.
The Mad Carnival team already have three staff in the Dunedin office with an aim to have 6 or more in place by the end of the year, supported by the CODE funding.
CODE launched in earnest almost two years ago under the guidance of Enterprise Dunedin, the Dunedin City Council’s economic development agency and Kānoa, the Government’s Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit. Since then, 19 studios and 69 jobs have already been created or supported through $1.59 in funding, in addition to establishing training and career pathways which largely didn’t exist in New Zealand before CODE.
“CODE’s holistic approach to building a sustainable game development ecosystem is gathering momentum,” says Tim Ponting, Establishment Director for CODE.
“Dunedin is seeing explosive growth in the number of studios making games in the city, backed up by a pipeline of graduates from Whare Matoro, the Otago Game Space recently opened by Otago Polytechnic, and the University of Otago across multiple departments.”
Mayor of Dunedin Aaron Hawkins says as New Zealand’s first and only centre for digital excellence in gaming, it’s exciting to witness the ongoing development of this innovative sector in Dunedin.
“As a result of CODE we are already attracting small, medium and mature entrepreneurs to the city,” he says.
"The ultimate goal is driving low weight, high value exports for New Zealand on the back of a vibrant interactive media industry. CODE is taking a collaborative approach to make this happen, working with mana whenua, industry, tertiary institutions and secondary schools”.
This momentum has attracted the attention of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who experienced some of the work being produced by Dunedin’s emerging studios during a visit to CODE HQ at Dunedin’s Petridish space recently.
CODE’s sustainable, inclusive and innovative programmes are designed to be scalable and flexible, both attracting talent to the city while supplying a pipeline of skilled graduates to both local industry and the wider New Zealand interactive industry.