Games to be included in the Government’s Creative Industries Plan 
8 July 2019

The Government has announced that it will develop a Creative Industries plan in 2020.

This is particularly exciting for New Zealand’s gaming industry. Despite being the fastest-growing industry in New Zealand (39% annual growth each year for the last six years), game development has previously fallen into a gap between hi-tech policy and arts and culture policy. 

The NZ Game Developers Association has been working with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), the NZ Tech alliance and creative industries alliance WeCreate for over a year on several activities that feed into this. 

A Creative Industries Plan

Last Tuesday, the Government announced its Innovative Industries policy aimed at lifting productivity in key sectors such as the Creative Industries and Digital Technology (plus Agritech, Aerospace, Health Tech and others). Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford says the Government will begin to develop a formal “Industry Transformation Plan” for the Creative Industries in 2020.

Luckily, work towards the plan has already begun. The Government’s report “Growing innovative industries in New Zealand: From the knowledge wave to the digital age” says the Government will partner with WeCreate to implement key recommendations from its industry-developed Action Plan. It will also support the development of a 10-year screen industry strategy.

WeCreate has held a series of workshops, working groups and conferences with a range of creative industry bodies and government agencies over the last two years, resulting in a proposed Action Plan to grow our creative industries. The NZGDA and several game studios have been involved throughout. NZGDA Board Member Stephen Knightly is a member of WeCreate’s Steering Group, and Metia Interactive’s Maru Nihoniho spoke about gaming and the Māori economy at the Government report’s launch in Parliament last week (you can see her game Guardian Māia being shown at Parliament in the image above). Rocketwerkz’s Dean Hall and Grinding Gear Games’ Jonathan Rogers gave keynotes at WeCreate conferences, helping educate government and other industry associations about the interactive sector’s potential. 

In addition over the next few months, the Screen Industry 2030 working group will be holding workshops and consultations to develop a 10-year strategy for New Zealand’s screen industry – including gaming and mixed reality. Watch this space for opportunities for game developers to contribute.

Coming Soon: The Interactive Aotearoa Report

We’ve also been working on a major report for the Government called “Interactive Aotearoa” which explores the economic, wellbeing and cultural contribution interactive media could make to New Zealand. The report has been based on over 50 interviews, several case studies and data such as our annual NZ Game Developers Industry Survey.

The 100-page report is wide-ranging, covering topics such VR, AR, serious games, EdTech, esports, interactive fiction, indie games, attracting investment and successful Government games programmes around the world. 

The report is currently in draft and we have invited the Government to help us publicly launch it in the next few months. We believe it will align well with the Creative Industries Plan.

The report has been sponsored by many local game studios plus Government agencies NZ Trade & Enterprise, MBIE, NZ Venture Investment Fund, Education NZ and local city councils via Auckland Tourism Economic Development and Events, WellingtonNZ, ChristchurchNZ and Enterprise Dunedin.

In addition, the NZ Film Commission is sponsoring this year’s Kiwi Game Starter challenge, and CreativeNZ and New Zealand on Air are Gold Sponsors of NZGDC.

$17m of Tertiary Education Investments 

The University of Canterbury and the Tertiary Education Commission are investing $7.7m into the university’s Applied Immersive Gaming Initiative, which intends to accelerate research and use of immersive gaming applications. Meanwhile, a Centre of Digital Excellence (CODE) focusing on gaming is proposed for Dunedin and Otago University and Otago Polytechnic. $10m over ten years is being sought from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund. Local game studios have been supporting both initiatives.

Reviewing Copyright

Respecting creators’ work and rights is key to earning a living from game development and the Government is currently reviewing how copyright law should be updated. The NZGDA along with more than 30 other screen, music and media creators have submitted a joint position paper to the Government’s review of the Copyright Act

Law changes for contractors – Know your rights

The Government has announced a law change is on the way for contractors working in New Zealand’s screen sector including game developers. The ‘Hobbit Law’ amendment is intended the strengthen contractor’s employment rights while still making New Zealand an attractive place for screen productions. We’ll be discussing what this means for you at a workers’ rights panel during NZGDC 2019 and you can find out more here.

Get involved

Discussions with the Government on topics such as these are one of the less visible but ultimately important things the NZ Game Developers Association does on our members’ behalf. Thank you to all the game studios, developers and NZGDA Board members who have contributed to these conversations and plans so far.

There’s a lot going on and over the coming months there will be many opportunities for game developers to have your say on the future of your industry. Follow our email newsletter and Facebook group to stay up-to-date. If you have any questions, you can contact any NZGDA Board Member or our Secretary Stephen Knightly (