Stephen Knightly, Director of InGame and chair of the NZ Game Developers Association.
What niche has your company gone for?
InGame is a gamification consultancy and a serious games developer. That means we help businesses apply gaming's engaging and persuasive powers to marketing, training or not-for-profit campaigns.
Businesses see the amount of time and attention that customers and staff voluntarily spend with games, and they're asking how they can make their products and processes more like that. They've invested in websites and apps but don't always get great user attention. But games do.
Gartner Research estimates that more than 70 per cent of Global 2000 organisations will at least one gamified app by 2014, so it's a growing market.
A quarter of New Zealanders play a smartphone game each week and the average age of a game player is 33, so there's an accessible audience.
What is your background?
My corporate career was in marketing and communications for technologies companies like Microsoft, HP, IBM, Amazon here and in Europe. Since I returned to New Zealand I've also worked for several universities and fast-growing startups.
I often act as the experienced middleman between senior management who need a strong business case and the game developers and the trainers.
What success has InGame had so far?
SafeHouse is a zombie invasion game where you defend your family during the Zombie Apocalypse. The twist is that you can only use household hazards and everyday objects.
Its real purpose is to teach people about falls around the home, and it's supported by the Accident Compensation Corporation. More than one third of the 1.7 million claims ACC receives every year are for injuries received at home, and 40 per cent of those happen because of falls, so there's a clear business case.
The fact that people will voluntarily take 15 minutes on average out of their day to learn about falls around the home - a pretty dry subject - is impressive. The game safely caused 40,000 virtual accidents in the first month.
Other projects have included a medical training scenario with Auckland University Medical School, a game for children with behavioural issues, financial literacy, Te Reo eBooks, music promotion, a flight simulator and boosting online community participation.
What are your plans in the next year?
Workplace health and safety has been a big issue this year, with some high profile accidents and a government enquiry.
We've developing a workplace training game where staff can learn processes safely. Via trial and error they can see the consequences of their actions. Poor literacy or workplace culture are issues that a game can address incredibly well. We plan to make it customisable to individual workplaces.
Would you like any more support than you are getting from the industry or the Government?
The industry is very friendly and various game studios often help each other out.
NZ Trade and Enterprise is supportive of the larger game studios, and we often band together when we go to international events like the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
Apart from that there are no specific government programmes for the games industry. I think the film and TV industry are missing out on opportunities to work with gaming, as we have had the most success in making money from creative IP and exporting it digitally. Games are explicitly excluded from our screen funds.
Do you meet up with other game developers from time to time?
I organise the Auckland Game Developers Meetups, which are held every month in Auckland. You can sign up for them at www.meetup.com/playmaker. There is also the AnimFX conference in Wellington in February and the NZ Game Developers Conference in Auckland each year.
Next week: Now is a key time for every retailer out there as well organised types are shopping for family overseas and at home. A recent news report said that retailers weren't going to be hiring more staff in the run up to Christmas, they would just be working harder. Is this true in your case? How do small businesses motivate and manage staff at this crucial time of year?