Tokyo-Dunedin alliance boosts game developer

JP Games' creative director Hiromitsu Sasaki (left) and global account manager Ken Kawashima...
JP Games' creative director Hiromitsu Sasaki (left) and global account manager Ken Kawashima celebrate being in Dunedin. PHOTO: BRENT MELVILLE
One of the world’s leading games developers thinks Dunedin’s got game.

Japanese games director Hajime Tabata, who worked on the worldwide game phenomenon Final Fantasy XV, has aligned his new AAA games studio, JP Games, with Dunedin’s fledgling Centre of Digital Excellence (Code).

It is an early coup for Code, which is still in its set-up phase after the $10million kick-start funding announced less than a month ago.

The relationship, facilitated by Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment senior adviser Seishi Gomibuchi, is based on what Mr Tabata describes as "similar values" to Code.

JP Games’ global account manager Ken Kawashima, who along with creative director Hiromitsu Sasaki are in the city this week to formalise the agreement, said the affiliation was a natural move.

"We’re both start-ups, we see collaboration as an important part of our strategy, so a direct working relationship with the growing New Zealand sector presents huge opportunities for both parties.

"We think Tokyo and Dunedin can share the same space in helping elevate our game," Mr Kawashima said.

JP is known to be currently developing the Pegasus Dream Tour, the first ever fantasy sports role-playing game licensed as a Paralympics game.

"It goes well beyond the normal sports game, creating an fantasy environment where the paralympic players truly are the heroes."

Mr Kawashima said they would be holding meetings with several industry and educational representatives while they were in Dunedin, and Mr Sasaki would spend some time photographing Otago’s wider and unique landscapes.

"Landscapes are an important part of game production, so this area is just one big tapestry for us."

Chairman of the Code working group Murray Strong said agreements of this nature would help drive Code’s objectives of supporting Dunedin and New Zealand game developers, through a programme of national and international mentors.

RocketWerkz senior director and new Dunedin resident Dave Oshry said things were happening "really fast" in the city and the sector.

"It’s hugely positive. The idea of a game developer exchange could be cool, and would let us tap into a huge level of experience."


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