There are over 30 companies in Northern Ireland developing video games. Some of them are point and click adventures, while others feature more arcade-style adventure play. One reason for this happens to be that Northern Ireland has a diverse and competitive games development community, but it is also one of the best-funded regions anywhere in the UK supporting games design.
The main funding enterprise for Northern Irish game developers and designers is Northern Ireland Screen. Not only do they help by providing project funding and assisting in budgeting constraints, but they also offer skills development, production funding and give advice on how to take advantage of the video game and film tax breaks available in the UK.
Funding and grants for gaming in Northern Ireland
These funds include grants of up to £100,000 in some cases, but Northern Ireland Screen also act as a regional hub for Tranzfuzer, a UK-wide creative talent search aimed at graduates looking to get into the games development industry. It offers £25,000 in rewards for winning teams, but also provides a working budget to allow teams to allocate to their projects during the competition.
Exploring games development in the region
Some of the sectors that NI games developers are thriving in include city builder/management games from Rocket Flair Studios, developing digital doubles and ‘synthetic’ avatars as is the case of Humain, and exploring the way audio and sound is used in gaming as Boomclap do.
But this is only the crossroads for the multiple directions games developers have ventured into. For instance, live streaming has become one of the most popular forms of entertainment. The growth of live streaming from YouTube, Facebook, Periscope, and IBM Cloud Video has made streaming services like Twitch and Mixer faster-growing than any other subscription-based format. And gaming is right at the heart of it.
Live streaming features games like Fortnite, League of Legends and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six series, but it has also revealed the popularity of casino-based streaming like slots or roulette. In fact, casino roulette, like that found at Paddy Power, has a number of live casino options that include real-life dealers. Much of this has only been made possible by development from the gaming industry, of which Northern Ireland is becoming a prominent player, with VR and interactive games development from Deep Voodoo, Enter Yes and Italic Pig.
NI games makers go worldwide
In fact, the development of gaming in Northern Ireland, combined with the funding network and attitude to diversification, is clearly working. Eight of those 30 resident games developers were in San Francisco earlier this year to represent the region, alongside 28,000 other attendees at the Games Development Conference.
One of those, Italic Pig, were actually selected as a winner of one category, Best in Play, for their project The Infinite Hotel, which is an inventive, yet quirky narrative-driven drama set in a multidimensional hotel. It is set apart from other similar-themed games by its use of VR technology.
Certainly, the entrepreneurial model of games development in Northern Ireland is working, but so too is the unique funding network that supports it. For a comparatively small region, it allows greater personality and collaboration to happen. From shoot ’em ups to VR to casino game technology, Northern Ireland’s games development industry is thriving.
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