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NZGDC14: All in

The NZ Game Developers Conference (NZGDC) ran 31 sessions featuring a combined 32 speakers across three streams in eight hours – and finished the day on time.

Google bought lunch, Microsoft left its credit card on the bar at the after-party and several other sponsors contributed substantial gifts in kind – many of which went to the winner of the NZGDA’s inaugural Kiwi Game Starter Pitch competition. The NZGDA itself put $5000 in folding into the competition pot when announcing it early last month.

A week ahead of the conference, the NZGDA had released the results of its survey on the state of the industry, containing plenty of good news.

In short, there was nothing not to like unless, perhaps, you’re one of the two pitch finalists who’s not $25,000 better off today – but even they didn’t go away completely empty-handed.

The event was ably MC-ed by newly-minted NZGDA chair Ben Kenobi, who kept the house-keeping to a minimum (“If you don’t know where the after-party is, just follow the herd of nerds”) and the pace up.

That pitch competition was initiated by the NZGDA out of concern that there wasn’t a clear path into what everyone agrees is a growing industry here. There was no path into the industry, clear or otherwise, when the NZGDA was begun. Its founding members are now all old enough to shave and feel duty-bound to light the way for those who’ll become their successors.

The winner of the Kiwi Game Starter competition was Joe Chang’s company EyeMobi, who had gone to considerable effort to attract attention to his project Phantasmal – including this article, which ran just before NZGDC on

Chang was one of the independent NZ developers featured last year at the inaugural Digital Nationz event in Auckland.

The competition was, as former NZGDA chair Stephen Knightly pointed out while making the pitch contestants sweat for a little longer, not just about the game submitted but about the business: what else was in place to support the game through to completion.

Knightly also confirmed that the NZGDA intended to repeat the competition at next year’s NZGDC, giving everyone no excuses for not being ready.

The NZGDA ran its workshop day Thursday 18 September and conference day Friday 19 September, both at AUT. On Tuesday 23 the NZGDA and Nga Taonga Sound & Vision will present NZ Gaming Through Time, a free screening at AUT of a compilation of some of the highlights of early computer gaming history and development in New Zealand.

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