School of video games proposed for city

Megan Gibbons. Photo: supplied
Megan Gibbons. Photo: supplied
Dunedin could become the epicentre of video game development if an Otago Polytechnic plan gets off the ground.

The polytechnic wants to set up a base in Dunedin’s central city and is in the planning stages for a "work-based learning facility" with the working title Dunedin School of Games.

Chief executive Megan Gibbons said the scale of the project would depend on ongoing talks with the school’s partners.

But the plan was for students to be immersed in Dunedin’s growing gaming sector.

The new off-campus base could be developed near the New Zealand Centre of Digital Excellence (Code), which at present was in Stafford St, Dr Gibbons said.

It would need to be a "multi-player game", but planning remained highly fluid and so the size of the facility would depend on the ongoing discussions, she said.

The polytechnic has approached Dunedin City Council for help to both find and fund its new base.

It asked for $300,000 from the council in a submission to its long-term planning process.

There was some urgency because the University of Canterbury was doing something "very similar" in a bid to make Christchurch the city for gaming development, Dr Gibbons said.

At present, no other polytechnics, or institutes of technology, in New Zealand had established such a high level of integration with the gaming industry.

This was a clear opportunity for the polytechnic to take a leadership role and provide an "incubator environment" for local independent game development, she said.

"Learners would graduate not only with the wider skills and knowledge within [the polytechnic’s] degree programmes, but also be armed with a more specific portfolio of skills and experience tailored to the games industry."

The polytechnic would bolster its degree offerings and add a level 4 certificate in digital media and design, she said.

Because the project was in its early stages, Dr Gibbons could not give a timeline for its completion.

hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz

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