The 90% plus growth of the digital gaming sector in Ireland from 2009 to 2012 can be replicated if not accelerated over the next three years such is the confidence in the industry here, the premier annual gathering for young programmers was told last week.
Speaking at the 10th annual ‘Games Fleadh’ - hosted by LIT Tipperary at its Thurles campus for the country’s leading young programmers - founder of the event Philip Bourke predicted that Ireland is on track to exponentially grow the industry and create thousands of jobs over the next three years.
The two-day Games Fleadh was attended by over 2,500 of the country’s leading young programmers and games developers. The gathering, which has fast become Ireland’s largest digital games programming festival, included a range of events that showcased the talents of Ireland’s leading young programmers.
One of the highlights was the ‘Oscars’ of Irish computer gaming, the Engineers Ireland Game Developer Awards, which this year saw a doubling in the number studios and games nominated for 12 awards, such is the growth of the industry.
The winners reflected that Dublin is very much the powerbase for the indigenous digital gaming sector in Ireland, with eight of the 12 awards coming from six companies in the capital. The other four were divided evenly between two companies, one in Galway and the other in Thurles itself.
Students from across the country also participated in a range of gaming competitions at the event, which also celebrated the 30th anniversary of the classic game Robot Tank © Activision Publishing Inc., while a number of industry experts giving addresses on the future of the emerging industry and its significant job creation potential.
The sector has already seen a tripling of games developer companies in Ireland from 2009 to 2012, mostly in the indigenous sector and resulting in a 90% plus employment growth. And according to Mr Bourke, this can be accelerated over coming years.
“The excitement and buoyancy across the industry in Ireland is huge right now. It is a real growth area and has been identified as such by Government, which has a very clear road-map set out in the Action Plan for Jobs 2012 and has set up a cluster group to build the industry through foreign direct investment and indigenous growth.
“We have an explosion in the indigenous sector and have landed some really impressive FDI global brands over recent years. The FDI jobs are mostly in support-centres and we need to attract more of these but the jobs growth rate will really multiply if we can develop Ireland as a global hub for game development.
“The missing link we need to increase our output of character artists, people who will design the actual characters for the games. We have everything else; game designers, programmers, graphic designers, developers and improved competitiveness as a destination for FDI.”
The Irish Games Industry Survey 2012 by Jamie McCormick, Marketing Systems Manager with Dublin based GALA Networks Europe, showed that the Munster and Connacht regions have experienced the biggest increase in jobs but are more reliant on major FDI employers, whereas Dublin has a greater critical mass of indigenous companies employing the same numbers as the Connacht and Munster regions.
According to Mr Bourke, a focus area going forward has to be on helping the smaller indigenous developers get their games published but the indigenous sector can also help attract further FDI. “We are creating a real opportunity here for Ireland as the proliferation of indigenous games developers is sending a strong signal to multi-nationals that Ireland is a cutting-edge location when it comes to games development. We are building a real pedigree in Ireland.
“The Games Fleadh is playing a role in that and its organic growth has been partly responsible for the development of a cluster of start-up companies here on our campus in Thurles alone. To support this, and the wider industry, we are in the process of establishing our own Games Research Centre here. One of the first things this Centre will do is conduct research into how companies can best promote their digital games, which could have real benefits for indigenous Irish companies to commercialise their games.”
Engineers Ireland Game Developer Tipperary Awards winners
Best in Game Design Nevermind Games, Thurles for TroubleSum
Best Indie Game of the Year Nevermind Games, Thurles for Solar Sprint.