"I like to stay in touch with what’s going on and what people are concerned about."
My calendar has been full of meetings over the last three weeks.
On 3 November Sam, Emily and I joined a bunch of other game development studio heads and the Centre of Digital Excellence (CODE) boffins to kōrero with the game development course leaders at Te Pūkenga (formerly Otago Polytechnic). This was a chance to make sure that students come out of their courses industry-ready. It’s a challenge to balance: do students need to learn a bit of everything to whet their appetite and make them able to start developing their own projects? Or do they need to specialise in their chosen discipline so they can then grow their own skills under the umbrella of a larger, established company who needs them for a specific role? Do we need to squash their dreams, or just sculpt them a bit?
On 7 November I was invited to the New Zealand Women in Export Leadership event, where a smallish group of us talked about the challenges that we face in getting our products into the global market. Turns out that we’ve got it easy in game dev: we push a button and *boop* our game is available in every country in the world. No manufacturing or shipping logistics to deal with! All of us have similar problems, though, in terms of managing our finances between sale cycles, and getting our products seen. (My suggestion for accessing some smaller income sources to fill out large production cycles was, in the light of my earlier meeting, to partner with Te Pūkenga and get game development students to prototype mini-games related to their products, which can then be sold on Steam. Some of these women are making super-cool things that would make awesome games.)
On 9 November I went to the South Dunedin Hui. Supporting our local community is extremely important to me, and I like to stay in touch with what’s going on and what people are concerned about. We have a new mayor in Dunedin, Jules Radich, replacing our former Green Party mayor, Aaron Hawkins. The new chap has, shall we say, ideas, or rather one single idea of what he thinks will solve the climate-related problems threatening this low-lying, demographically-underprivileged area. I guess time will tell if he’s right. Or not. Anyway, it was nice to catch up with some of the other hui regulars, in particular with Dillon, the chairman of ParaFed Otago, whose job is to get our local sportspeople into the Paralympics. He’s pretty keen to do some accessibility playtesting of the new game too!
On 11 November Sam and I attended a workshop with Jason Della Rocca of Execution Labs, a game industry entrepreneur and funding advisor par excellence. I was happy to learn that we’re pretty well on the right track with our marketing and stuff [waves hands vaguely]. Sam arrived late because he thought he had something else on (he didn’t) and I only realised he was there when I dissed him, as I thought, behind his back. “Sam thinks A, but I think B…” Jason said I was right, so there.
On 21 November a few of us studio heads joined the CODE peeps at a hui for Digital Technology teachers from the region. This was a lot of fun, and quite eye-opening as they talked about the challenges they face encouraging school children to embrace technology. Sam and I have already done a bit of mentoring of school kids, and we enjoy having groups come and visit us in the studio. I’m really looking forward to doing more in this area.
Wherever we go, we talk about how we have a 4-day work week, more than half our staff are women, and we prioritise staff-wellbeing and environmentalism over making huge profits. We’re not in this to get rich, we just want to keep doing what we love as long as we can, and that means looking after our team, our players and our planet.