A project deal with a major platform, along with a boost through the latest round of funding from New Zealand’s Centre of Digital Excellence (CODE), is helping bring to life a new game development studio – Mad Carnival.
Founded by creative tech leader Samantha Ramlu (Method, M Theory), the new studio will focus on creating wholesome and non-violent videogames for all ages, providing safe and inclusive entertainment for kids and adults alike.
The $250,000 grant from CODE will allow the establishment of studios across both Auckland and Dunedin, providing local opportunities and showcasing more of Aotearoa’s growing reputation in the worldwide billion dollar industry.
Says Ramlu: “We’ve recognised the opportunities for Aotearoa’s videogame industry in Dunedin, where the local vocational focus on pathways into the creative and development space make it an ideal location for a new studio outside of Auckland.”
The Mad Carnival team has seven people across its Dunedin and Auckland offices with two more people joining the Dunedin team in the coming months.
The studio’s keystone project is being developed in partnership with a large social media company for its platform, with a scheduled release date in Q3 2022 and more details to follow closer to launch.
Says Ramlu: “Globally, the games industry continues to develop and grow as a storytelling medium, with new technology emerging to create engaging gaming experiences.
“It’s an incredibly exciting time to be in this space and we want to provide games that are wide reaching, stimulating, and accessible, bringing friends and family together through play and moments of fun – essentially allowing everyone to be a ‘gamer’, and proud of it.”
Mad Carnival is also currently developing a game for local children’s multimedia platform HEIHEI (after releasing children’s game “Postcards from Aotearoa” earlier in 2021 through sister studio Method).
Says Ramlu: “As the sector continues to diversify, the potential for storytelling from a range of different voices and backgrounds is an energising and motivating prospect for the future.
“We want to ensure both the games we create and the team working on them are diverse and inclusive. It’s important to us as a development team to create games that are positive and wholesome, while also dialling up the fun factor with unique gameplay and beautiful art.”
Aotearoa’s gaming industry has been rapidly growing in the past few years. In a 2021 survey, the New Zealand Game Developers Association found a 30% growth in jobs in local game development, with exports reaching $276 million.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has also spurred this growth, with 66% of local studio incomes remaining stable – or even increasing – due to the nature of game development.
Says Ramlu: “We believe CODE offers us an opportunity like no other in Aotearoa and allows us to invest further in our talent and slate of games to really elevate the potential for Mad Carnival.”