The games industry is a big deal in Aotearoa and we think it should be highlighted as a potential career path for young people that show an interest in creative technologies, design thinking and creative coding.
There are plenty of successful game development companies in Aotearoa New Zealand doing really well. In fact, New Zealand interactive media and video games studios earned a whopping $276 million in 2021.
Working in the games industry isn’t just for coders. Making a game, and publishing a game requires a team of people. On top of hiring game programmers, studios regularly hire musicians, artists, narrative designers, and game designers. Additionally, game studios will often hire project managers, accountants and business people to help their games succeed. Even play-testing games is a real job in the 21st century.
Wellington based Gamefroot offers a suite of classroom resources for students that want to Get into Game making kiwi styles!
Gamefroot has been made by local game developers and their resources are perfect for digital natives, budding game developers and hobbyists that have learned to code in tools like Scratch.
Gamefroot comes with plenty of Aotearoa themed game art and animations so students can see themselves reflected back in the content they create. If you are going to make a game, why wouldn’t you make a game about Aotearoa, New Zealand?!?
Te Hiko Tākaro resources are suitable as an English and Māori medium classroom resource for students and teachers to make Aotearoa themed games.
Create an Interactive Fiction Game: Remix this template and follow the instructions to create your own interactive fiction game. Integrate storytelling, literacy, language and digital technologies in one project
Scratch is an online tool for kids (and anybody else) getting started with computer programming that wants to learn the ropes.
Scratch is your perfect “jack of all trades” learning to code tool. There are millions of resources available online. It is easy to open up Scratch Projects made by others to see how they were made.
Scratch was not made specifically for real game development projects. As such it is overly complicated to create games with multiple levels, additional game screens e.g. Start Screen and/or Game Over screens, and player physics. Because of this, once your students are feeling confident in Scratch, we recommend moving onto tools specifically made for game development like Gamefroot, Unity and Unreal Engine.
GameMaker Studio is a cross-platform game development platform designed to help game developers create games in a single code base and publish them to run natively across multiple platforms including Android, iOS, OS X, HTML5, Ubuntu, and Windows.
This can be a good option if you are wanting to further develop your skills. Not quite as complex as Unreal or Unity.
GameMaker Studio enables creators to use layers and tile brushes or animations to add visual effects across characters. Businesses can mix audio tracks to add sound effects and include motion effects for creating live players.
There are costs to use and publish.
If you and your students want to start making 3D games and content than we recommend you use Unity 3D and / or Unreal Engine. Both of these platforms are used by industry professionals for creating AAA video games and other photorealistic content.
A word of warning, creating 3D assets for games in and of itself can be a very time consuming task, if your goal is to teach game development we strongly recommend using existing 3D assets from the Unity Asset store so you and your students can focus on the coding side of game development – ideally 3D art creation is learned as it is a skill in its own right.
Steven Rodkiss, Digital Technologies Teacher from Burnside High School, has put together the following resource for teachers and students wanting to get into 3D game development.
Unreal Engine is another of the world’s top game development engines, it is a sprawling multi-tool development environment for games and other 3D. It takes time, commitement and effort but if you stick with this, career pathways will abound.