10 Sep 2014

Greens IT plan to boost gaming

7:15 pm on 10 September 2014

The Green Party would encourage people to create video games, if elected, by setting up a $9 million fund over three years.

Announcing the policy today, co-leader Russel Norman said innovation lies at the heart of a smart economy.

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Photo: AFP

Dr Norman says game developers currently miss out on the government support available to other creative sectors, such as film or music.

"This is an $80 million industry - this is not small bickies. If New Zealand wants to make its way in the world and earn its way in the world, we need industries like this to grow which have very low environmental footprint, very high value, high paid jobs and a fantastic future."

Dr Norman said the Greens would set up a new Games Development Fund to kick start the emerging industry. It would be available to people working on creative projects, such as the development of multimedia games or smart phone applications.

The Greens say they would also commit $15 million over three years to supporting internship programmes in the information technology sector.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman playing a video game during party's IT policy launch

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman playing a video game during party's IT policy launch Photo: RNZ / Craig McCulloch

Russel Norman said many talented New Zealanders were moving overseas for opportunities in IT and the policy would address the skill shortage here by investing in talent and training.

"Our internships will give people a foot in the door of the industry and help to drive new innovation."

The Green Party would fund technology interns for existing IT companies and set up a pilot internship programme supporting students to develop new ideas. It said it would also champion local businesses, by requiring government agencies to report how much money they are spending on IT within New Zealand, compared to overseas.

Government agencies would also have to consider the wider benefits to the country of supporting New Zealand companies when deciding on IT contracts.

"The ICT sector can make a significant contribution to a thriving, smarter New Zealand," Dr Norman said.

However, Prime Minister John Key says while New Zealand's gaming industry is very important, it should not be eligible for government funding.

"It should be able to stand on its own two feet, and most software companies do. Our preference has always been to spend the money in areas where we think it's more likely to make a long-term difference."