Games stream requires lecturer

Polytechnic student Mitchell Briggs (left), lecturer Adon Moskal and technology specialist Hugh Harlow check out a pre-release version of Forth Street Studio's survival game, SKIN. Mr Briggs said he spent four months working on the game. Photo: Gregor Ric
Polytechnic student Mitchell Briggs (left), lecturer Adon Moskal and technology specialist Hugh Harlow check out a pre-release version of Forth Street Studio's survival game, SKIN. Mr Briggs said he spent four months working on the game. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Wanted: a lecturer who understands the development and delivery of game design.

''Must understand current knowledge of concept art, character design, 3-D modelling and animation, UX/UI and user testing, Unreal and / or Unity.''

Otago Polytechnic is recruiting lecturers in the area of gaming, as the institution's school of design gears for spiralling demand in the sector.

Communication design programme head Caroline McCaw said the polytech had seen a growing number of students wanting to focus their creative skills towards the games industry.

She said after developing the curriculum over the past two years to ensure a focused games stream, this year the institution had added 3-D modelling, world building, character design and concept art, as well as 2-D animation and 2-D games to the syllabus.

The new senior lecturing role will include working with the polytech's new Forth Street Studio, a joint effort between its design and IT schools, aimed at providing production facilities for students who wanted to bank easily transferable skills into gaming and other interactive media applications.

Otago Polytechnic IT lecturer Adon Moskal said the studio was intended as an autonomous entity, which would appeal to students but possibly also as a resource for commercial interests and indie game developers.

He said while it was ''early days'' for the studio, it had generated a lot of interest from students who wanted to build their own portfolios, and had the aim of building towards full production and media capabilities from ''start to finish''.

Polytech learning and technology specialist Hugh Harlow said increased digital and gaming resources would align with the city's recently announced Centre for Digital Excellence (CODE), which last month was granted a $10million stimulus from the Government's Provincial Growth Fund.

''CODE will help legitimise gaming as a pathway towards a career in a number of different areas, so we are very excited about the opportunities.''

Mr Moskal said while the primary aim of gaming was entertainment, there were spinoffs into the areas of health and education, as well as ''games for good''.

He said the studio hoped to work closely with independent companies such as Rocketwerkz and Runaway.

RocketWerkz senior director Dave Oshry said it was great seeing this kind of design stream, and senior level educational talent being sought in Dunedin.

''It affirms the commitment of our educational institutions to game design and development as a career path that's valuable worldwide.''

According to the recent joint industry and government report Interactive Aotearoa, more than two thirds of all New Zealanders played video games regularly, and interactive entertainment influenced our digital literacy.

The report pegged local gaming revenue at $120million last year, with growth looking set to hit the $200million mark for this year.

Globally, interactive games were at around $238billion and were expected to grow at a 9% compound annual rate over the next four years.

This made it the world's fastest-growing media industry and eclipsed the 2.5% annual growth of the global movie sector and its revenue of $136billion.

brent.melville@odt.co.nz

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