CODE is the New Zealand Centre of Digital Excellence - a Dunedin-based hub designed to progress the expansion of New Zealand's growing video game development industry. The creation of CODE in Dunedin was a Labour Party election manifesto commitment. It is being funded by the Provincial Growth Fund.

The global game development sector is large and growing. Over the next ten years, the vision for CODE is to grow a $1 billion video game development industry in New Zealand to deliver new economic growth and highly skilled, sustainable employment in the sector.

CODE is being set up to deliver:

  • new industry skills development and training pathways
  • national and global partnerships that grow our digital capacity and knowledge
  • contestable funding for product development
  • higher growth in games sector employment
  • more diversity in the sector – particularly for youth, Māori and women
  • growth in the number of gaming businesses and experts in Dunedin.

Dunedin is well-positioned to contribute to this vision through the city’s emerging game deveopment and digital businesses, thriving start-up ecosystem, strong Māori partnerships, global linkages, and internationally recognised academic centres.

While the primary focus will be on the games for entertainment sector, CODE will leverage the city’s key strengths in health and education and the impending Dunedin Hospital redevelopment to carve out a niche in the ‘games for health’ sector. This will create real benefits for Dunedin’s local community, the region and New Zealand.

The initial outline for CODE was developed in conjunction with the Dunedin City Council's economic development arm, Enterprise Dunedin, the New Zealand Game Developers Association (NZGDA), local and international game development companies and business entrepreneurs, the Southern District Health Board, Ngāi Tahu, the University of Otago, Otago Polytechnic, secondary school representatives, Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and Education New Zealand.

Where is CODE at now? - CODE establishment

The government officially gave the go-ahead for CODE funding at the end of October 2019, so the establishment phase is now under way. By early 2020 the legal and governance structures of CODE will have been established and CODE will move into delivering a programme of activities.

Enterprise Dunedin will lead this phase of development in conjunction with Ngāi Tahu, industry – including local gaming companies - and the New Zealand Game Developers' Association (NZGDA), the University of Otago, Otago Polytechnic and other city partners including the Grow Dunedin Partnership.

A global perspective

New Zealand's video game development sector is 93% export driven. It has a global focus and there are many examples of Dunedin and New Zealand companies and educational institutions that excel in this space internationally.

CODE will tap into the knowledge of local and global experts in the game development sector and explore partnership opportunities through Dunedin’s sister city relationships with Edinburgh and Shanghai, while also working with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). This work will also include, where possible, the establishment of agreements and partnerships with global game development companies and supporting agencies.

Why games?

The global games market is worth over US $137.9 billion (according to Newzoo 2018 figures), with 51 % of this attributed to mobile games.

In New Zealand alone, the video games industry has grown 39% annually for the last six years and is now worth over $143 million annually. It is also one of the fastest growing creative careers, with the number of developers and artists in the industry rising by 10% in 2018. There are expected to be 150 new interactive game development jobs created in New Zealand over the next year.

The ‘weightless’ nature of video games means geography is no barrier to international market success. Digital media is easily portable, has few trade barriers and massive growth potential.

What are video games?

Interactive media - including video games educational games, mobile apps, augmented reality and interactive story-telling - is one of the fastest growing parts of the New Zealand digital economy.

Video games are a form of interactive digital media which can be used both for entertainment and for serious purposes such as education and health.

Games for entertainment: everything from online scrabble and mobile app puzzles through to live multi-player and role-playing games and will be the primary focus of CODE.

Serious Games: games that have a primary purpose beyond entertainment, including games for health.

Contrary to popular belief, gaming in its various forms appeals to a diverse cross section of society and can have many positive impacts, including improving thinking skills, dexterity and helping to manage pain.

Who are New Zealand’s gamers?

  • 67 percent of Kiwis play video games
  • 47 percent of these players are women
  • 31 percent of New Zealanders watch esports
  • 44 percent of seniors aged 65 years and over play video games.