NZGDA Board for 2017/2018

The New Zealand Game Developers Association would like to welcome our board members for 2017/2018. This year there were nine candidates for board, which is the exact number of positions available. As a result, members attending the AGM on September 6th will vote to put the candidates on record. This will save the unnecessary expense of running an online ballot as we did last year when there were many more candidates than board positions available. In the future we will return to an electronic ballot should there be more candidates than positions.

James Everett, the current Chairperson, will not be continuing with the board and all enquiries can be directed to incoming Chairperson Michael Vermeulen and info@nzgda.com

Chairperson

Michael Vermeulen

I’m the Lead Game Designer at Aurora44, Director of Group Pug and a current NZGDA Board Member. I’ve been a professional game designer for over 5 years, and have worked at Ubisoft in Germany, and more recently as a tertiary lecturer and consultant. Throughout my career, I’ve been involved with many international game development communities, from the Nordrhein Westfalen Game Developers community in Germany, to IGDA New Zealand.

In my first year on the board of the NZGDA I was the point of contact to many NZGDA email enquiries and was lucky to be the first Executive Coordinator for the organisation. I was also involved with the judging of the GDC scholarships and am part of the Committee organising NZGDC this year.

I’m running for Chairperson of the NZGDA to focus on the following big topics:

Renew the NZGDA membership system:
I plan to continue the work of last term’s board to renew the NZGDA membership system. This will allow us to engage more efficiently with all our members, and work with our varied types of members to ensure that we can support them in our local industry.

Initiatives to grow the local industry:
The New Zealand games industry is growing every year and the games we produce are regularly featured on the global stage. To help the industry continue to grow in a sustainable way, I’d like to work with the NZGDA board to develop initiatives that support our members, their businesses and personal growth. This includes making information and resources more accessible, as well as promoting diversity and inclusiveness throughout the industry. I’d also like to facilitate engagement between studios and community leaders to encourage sharing of information, and to establish more international relationships and processes to help international talent join our local industry.

If you’d like to find out more about me, check out my LinkedIn profile or find me on Twitter @aquil4x if you’d like to chat.

I’m also still growing an epic beard.

Board Members

Lisa Blakie

I graduated from Otago University in 2015 with a BA (Hons) in Communication Studies and wrote my honours thesis on indigenous storytelling in video games. After graduating I joined the team at Runaway in Dunedin as the Community Manager and have been there since, expanding my role to assist with design and narrative aspects of the games.

After only 4 months in the industry, I was awarded an NZGDA scholarship to attend GDC in San Francisco Soon after, I got the opportunity to a speak at NZGDC. These early successes gave me the confidence to go on and become a speaker at the Community Management Summit at GDC this year.

I would love the opportunity to give back to the association that has helped me upskill with superb professional development and most importantly gain confidence in my role and skill set in the industry.

As a member of the NZGDA, I want to help prospective students and younger members of the gaming community interested in working in the industry to see that their dreams can become reality. Runaway was recently involved in ShadowTech Day, where we had female high school students come in and see what it’s like first hand to work at a game company and seeing them so inspired and motivated by the end of the day so incredibly rewarding. We recently formed a relationship with the Comp Sci Girls Otago group and have had them visit the office as well as attend their meetups. I would love to help foster more relationships like this on a national level between young members of the games industry, studios and the NZGDA to further grow and develop our industry for young people and particularly for young women.

I also want to bring awareness to the industry in academia at Tertiary institutions Humanities Departments, starting with Otago University where I am alumni. I want to communicate to lecturers and young prospective students about careers in gaming outside of programming or art.

 

 

Joe Chang

I am this year’s current secretary for the NZGDA and I have been involved with the community for the past few years.

Among my notable achievements for the year:
I lead the implementation of upgrade of our election process from paper to an electronic version with Election Runner.
I initiated the overhaul of many internal processes and systems within the NZGDA including an upgrade to google docs and the implementation of the accounting software Xero.

I have also been the manager for The Arcade Auckland (thearcadeakl.co.nz) a shared work space for indie developers in Auckland. This space is the first of it’s kind in the country, and was formed shortly after a few of us came back from our first PAX Aus in Melbourne in 2014. We were so inspired by the Arcade Melbourne, that we decided to do the same thing after ATEED supported us with an opportunity.

The Arcade has been running for about a year and a half now, and it has been massively popular with local developers. We started off with a small group of 4-6 but at our peak swelled to about 15-20. It’s just a start but I know we can help local devs grow even more!

As I’m now involved in the tech startup space, I have been connecting our community with the startup space, which has included Bizdojo, and the AR/VR Garage which happens to be next door to The Arcade Auckland.

My passion is still to help other grass-roots indies. We might be far away from most other countries, but we punch far above our weight. I’d love to continue my mission to raise the bar for the community!

Brian Cole

I have been an active gamer for as long as I can remember and have helped organise and run, Global Game Jams, KiwiJams, GovHacks, and Cyber Security Challenges in Hamilton for many years now. I believe that games represent a true lightweight export opportunity for New Zealand and deserve to play a greater role in our economy. I seek to build on the excellent work of the current and former boards of the NZGDA while complementing the excellent work being done in industry. I’m well connected within NZ Tech industry and I’m a vocal advocate for all things gaming. I know the challenges of running a small games studio. This position would also serve to further connect the regional meetups.

 

Niamh Fitzgerald

I’m a game designer and artist with Suntale Games, almost a graduate from Media Design School, and a current NZGDA board member. I’m an experienced project manager, problem solver, and an optimist.

During my first year on the board, I was the lead organiser of many NZGDA community events. My most significant project this term has been NZGDC17, as the Chairperson leading the NZGDC17 Committee. I also organised the NZGDA booths at Armageddon in Christchurch, Wellington, and soon, Auckland. These have been amazing experiences, and I’ve enjoyed working with many local developers to get their games in the hands of Kiwi gamers!

I’m standing again this year as I’d like to continue supporting the local industry by creating initiatives and events that enable broader community and student engagement. I also want to help lead the charge to promote inclusiveness and diversity in our local industry.

If you want to know more about me, check out my LinkedIn profile (https://www.linkedin.com/in/nbfitzgerald) or hit me up on Twitter @niasphinx.

Zoe Hobson

Zoe is the Managing Director of Runaway Play, an independent game developer and publisher making beautiful games inspired by the natural world. Zoe has a strong background in the media industry. She has worked in game production, film production, digital media, print media and television over the last fifteen years.

Zoe joined the team at Runaway Play in 2015 as a Senior Producer. Overseeing finances and production across the business, Zoe had a particular focus on leading the setup of the Publishing side of the business, and developing Runaway’s knowledge of marketing and paid User Acquisition. Zoe spoke on the subject of User Acquisition at NZGDC16, and attends GDC to broaden her industry knowledge. Zoe moved to the role of Managing Director at Runaway in 2016, where she oversees company vision and business strategies.

Zoe was awarded the ‘Future Business Leader’ award at the 2014 Obiz Awards. She is a Director of two companies, has been a board member for numerous charitable organisations including Film Otago Southland, Short Film Otago (current board member), and two years as Chairperson of Dunedin Roller Derby.

As a board member for NZGDA, I would have the following areas of focus:

  • I would like to encourage women to be confident in their career paths, and help more women to accelerate their careers and move into senior positions. We are actively working on this at Runaway, and are part of opportunities like Shadow Tech (mentoring female high school students) and working with local Women in Tech groups. I would like to do and encourage this on a national level.
  • I would like to use my Film Production background and my experience working with the NZ Film Commission to continue the relationship between NZGDA and NZFC, and discover further opportunities (like the Interactive Development Fund) for the games industry.
  • To promote knowledge sharing within the industry. Runaway firmly believes in transparency within and outside our company – I would love to help facilitate knowledge sharing between studios on a national level, and in particular between established studios and new graduates/newer studios.
  • I would bring my knowledge and experience from being on other boards and my management background to NZGDA to assist with organisational matters within the board and projects/events.

Stephen Knightly

I am a current NZGDA board member and would love to continue to serve on the Board to keep growing our industry and for a smooth handover and continuity.

My involvement in the industry includes founding the Auckland Game Developers Meetups in 2008, organising the first Global Game Jams in Auckland in 2010 and 2011, running the first NZGDC in 2012, coordinating our annual industry survey for many years and launching the KiwiGameStarter in 2014. I was Chairperson of the Association from 2011-2013 and again in 2015/2016. These activities have successfully been handed on to other NZGDA board members and volunteers as we have grown our ambitions.

In my day job I’m Managing Director of serious games and gamification studio InGame in Auckland and have consulted to or helped out several other New Zealand game studios and projects. We’ve made serious games for ACC, NZ Fire Service, Diary NZ and more. I’ve previously worked in the tech industry for the likes of Xbox, Microsoft, Facebook, IBM, Fonterra and several universities. I am also on the board of creative industries body WeCreate, who advocate for game developers too.

As a NZGDA Board member for the next year I’m keen to continue growing government support for our sector and support serious games and educational games.

Andrew Lamb

I’m the co-founder and Lead Artist of Wellington based PC games studio Camshaft Software, as well as the organiser of the Game Developers of Wellington meetups.

I was on the board this year, and am keen to continue the momentum we’ve built up, particularly around initiatives to help students, such as the GDC scholarships I was responsible for running last year, continuing to build connections with the Australian industry, and working on initiatives and support for new and growing NZ studios.

Shrikkanth Sreedharan

I’m Shrek! Formerly a senior engineer and team lead at a health software firm, I recently quit my job to pursue creative fulfilment as an indie games developer. It has been an awesome ride so far, but I certainly miss the everyday opportunities to do good things for the community that corporate life afforded me.

Some of my favourite extracurriculars as a software professional were student outreach and engagement. I gave passionate talks to convince college students to pursue STEM careers and attended every university career event I could to nurture the next generation of software engineers. As an indie game dev, I’ve sought to scratch this same itch by joining the Auckland Indies team to organise monthly chill sessions to share ideas and get feedback on prototypes.

Now, I’d like the opportunity to do more as an NZGDA board member. On top of my passion for community and thorough experience with leadership, I’m a hard core project management nerd. I’ve even gone as far as managing personal development and habit projects on Trello. I’d love to bring my relevant nerdiness to the table and help the NZGDA help ya’ll.