Cloak and Daggers
New Zealand’s is a weird place. It is an island. Well, islands is a better descriptor for it, its small but not as small as japan and not nearly as crowded. where surprisingly well know around the world, but not well known enough to stop people assuming we are all hobbits and live in hills. We as a country have done some pretty amazing things, we said no to nuclear, we were the first to give women the vote and most recently we were the 13 countries to make same-sex marriage legal. So why on a blog dedicated to my quest to making games am I mentioning these things? Well, it comes back to something that utterly confuddle me about the little country I live in, that we are so vocal about major issues like this but our video game industry is just so quite and secretive.
So over the last 6 months I have been “uncovering” the dark hidden world of the New Zealand games industry and what I have found is just strange and rather disappointing. So when I tell someone we have game studios in New Zealand they usually look at me kind of confused and say “really, I didn’t know” or something long those lines. its funny cause some of these people I talk to actually are really into video games and stuff and tend to know these things.
Now I’m not expecting them to know whether or not a game is made in New Zealand, that is just asking too much of them, but I would like them to know that new Zealand has an active game development scene, that been going strong for over 20 years now.
Why do I want this? well thats a good question. Gather round I’m going to tell you all a story of young patty. When patty was just a wee little lad he got is first game console, a ps2 at the age of about 9. From that moment on he made his way through loads of different games from driving to platforming, RPG to shooter. All he could do was think about games till the point he was wanting to make them. He would spend the many year up till now learning about design, learning about how computers work, how animation is done and consuming as much different forms of media he could get his hands on. Then he ran in to a problem. How? How can i be the one to make these games? It cant be that hard to find out?
Turns out it was really hard.
Nobody knew anything about how i could be one of the one of the people that made games as a job. most people, when i asked about this sort of thing, kind of looked back at me blankly and replied with I.T? like some confused foreigner who docent understand english. This was the moment when just left alone to survive in the middle of nowhere.
It was a rather frustrating experience, Scouring the internet for any bit of information about working in games. This lead to some interesting problems, most of the information related to places countries i did not live in nor could afford to move to. So that was great. then i remember that “hang on. I know of a studio that is located in my country of residence! OOOh even better they are located in the city i reside in, oh how marvellous” (drinks tea, while adjusting monocle) ((i don’t know why I’m drinking tea and wearing a monocle O.o)). Turns out that i know someone, who knows someone that works there. so she got in contact with them, they replied, we organised a time for me to chat to a designer, and that’s the story of how i visited sidhe interactive.
After that trip, it was a few years of me struggling to do nice and stuff. Then 2013 came around and i got really lucky. So at the beginning of the year te papa was the proud host of the Game Masters exhibit and as a part of that Module was playing two live shows. Music! i hear you asking in confuse tones, what on earth does that have to do with any of this? Now shush you insolent child let me finish.
So Module is the sound designer at PikPok a super successful game studio based in wellington (Fun Fact: this studio is actually sidhe they now only use that name when working on consoles). Now i won tickets to go see him perform and it just so happened that the managing director of PikPok was there as well. After the show i introduced myself. Then i got my second visit to PikPok/sidhe.
So I visited and stuff learn some cool stuff like some unannounced games, two of which are now out (robot unicorn attack 2 and rugby challenge 2) and one thats not out which sound really cool. then i got about an hour to just talk to the managing director (something i now know that I’m really luck to have had as he is a like the main man in the nz industry, most employees don’t get that much time with him. Go me!) but yeah from that trip i learned a lot about the NZ industry but the most important thing i learned was that it was the most secretive thing in new Zealand.
So the NZ games industry is actually quite big, surprisingly big actually. but no one acknowledges its existence, it feels very exclusionary and secrete society like. this annoys me cause it makes it this impenetrable world that i know exists but i just can’t get in. I would love to open up this can of worms and share it with every one, i really want to interview people who work in it and ask them how and why they do this job and so that they can share what it really like to make a game. something that i think most people don’t really know what the reality is compared to their imaginations, cause there probably going to be really disappointed by the reality of making games.
I have been really lucky, more lucky then most people who want to make game tend to be. It suck that you have to be incredibly lucky to discover the nitty-gritty of the NZ games industry and it shouldn’t be this fucking cloak and daggers bullshit. We as New Zealanders are quite vocal about things, but for some bizarre reason the people who are making games a quite like a mouse.