Derry ‘could be the Mecca of video game development’
During a ScreenWorks workshop for 14-19 year olds, the Kippie CIC team introduced young people to the design of video games in order to give them a real experience.
Kippie manager Katherine Rowlandson said: “It’s such an exciting time in the industry, there’s an explosion of creativity across Northern Ireland. I believe Derry in particular could rival Dundee as the mecca of global game development, we just have to convince our talented youngsters to stay home. We can do this by helping young people try gaming as a career through programs like ScreenWorks and our Girls Make Games workshops.
“To be a successful gaming business, you don’t need excellent road infrastructure or public transport. What you need is a good internet connection and nurturing new talent to stay,” she added.
She cited Hypixel Studios in Derry, which was acquired by global publishing leader Riot Games, but decided to set up an office in Derry, the home of the company’s founders.
ScreenWorks is a groundbreaking partnership between Northern Ireland Screen and Into Film, which gives young people who wish to pursue a career in the industry the opportunity to gain free hands-on experience with some of the leading experts working in film, television and film. animation. and games.
Sean Boyle of ScreenWorks said: “Gaming is a growing industry in Northern Ireland and we felt it was essential to give young people the chance to see what it would be like to make their own game. has great jobs and great academic backgrounds in Northern Ireland, so by reaching out to young people of this age we can show them what it would be like to work in industry.
He added that they were very keen to work with Kippie, as the organization was quickly developing a reputation for excellent, hands-on, youth-friendly game design courses.
Kippie is a partnership between Katherine, her sister Caroline Anderson who is a programmer and his artist wife Justine Scoltock.
Katherine explained: “We were all working separately, but we felt there was a real need to work with young people and help them develop their skills. Our first job was at a local gallery and we worked with young people exploring games inspired by art. It was amazing how the kids reacted. They just spontaneously started working together, sharing ideas and developing together. When their parents came to pick them up, they didn’t want to leave, and the parents said they hadn’t seen their children so excited to learn.
She added that this generation of parents grew up playing games so they see the value in potential careers in video game development. “Previously, parents and teachers viewed video games as a hobby. It has really changed,” she added.
In addition to the ScreenWorks session, Kippie runs an ongoing Girls Make Games project for girls ages 10-13.
“There are so few girls in tech in general and in gaming in particular, yet girls and women represent a significant share of the market for those who buy and play games,” she said. “That means women’s stories with strong female characters aren’t being created as much as they could and should be.”
“Our ambition is that as the gaming industry grows in Northern Ireland and particularly in Derry, underrepresented groups are offered opportunities,” she added.
For more information on ScreenWorks, go to www.intofilm.org/screenworks and to find out more about Kippie, go to www.kippie.org.uk.