On Thursday 28 November, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) will be signed between successful Japan-based video games publisher, JP GAMES, and the recently announced New Zealand of Centre of Digital Excellence (CODE), which is being established in Dunedin.

Dunedin’s economic development unit, Enterprise Dunedin, is leading the establishment of CODE in partnership with industry and city stakeholders, and will sign the MoU on behalf of CODE and the Grow Dunedin Partnership (comprising NgÄi Tahu, the University of Otago, Otago Polytechnic, Otago Chamber of Commerce and Otago Southland Employers Association).

CODE Working Group Chair, Murray Strong, says the MoU will provide a basis for developing links between JP GAMES and CODE in computer game development, and for investigating and progressing, by mutual agreement, areas of cooperation or projects.

Mr Strong says, “CODE’s objectives include creating sector networks and providing a programme of national and international mentors. Creating a national and international ecosystem which supports Dunedin and New Zealand game developers is critical to helping grow a $1 billion industry, which is the Government’s vision for CODE.

“The MoU with JP GAMES not only aligns with CODE’s objectives, but with the Dunedin Economic Development Strategy themes of Alliances for Innovation and Linkages Beyond Our Borders.

“It’s an important step in building international linkages for CODE to further reinforce Dunedin and New Zealand’s role within the international game development community. The MoU will provide significant value in terms of generating and sharing new ideas, opportunities and investment.

JP GAMES was launched this year by Hajime Tabata, a Japanese game director and previous Luminous Productions chief operating officer and head of studio. Prior to that, he was head of game development company Square Enix’s Business Division 2 and the director of Final Fantasy XV.

JP GAMES developers are currently developing The Pegasus Dream Tour, a fantasy sports role-playing game that is the first officially licensed Paralympics video game.

Mr Tabata says JP GAMES is honoured to take part in the official signing of the MoU with CODE.

“Not only do we share the common goals of pushing the boundaries of games and technology, but we also feel an affinity with CODE in that we both started up this year.

“We at JP GAMES are interested in activities that involve taking on new challenges, so we hope our collaboration with CODE presents us both with stimulating challenges to conquer.”

Mr Tabata said he was particularly interested in finding a creative way to make the two physically distant locales of Tokyo and Dunedin one and the same.

The MoU will be signed at an official ceremony at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery with invited representatives from the game development industry, Dunedin’s tertiary and other education providers, Dunedin businesses and other CODE stakeholders in attendance.

Mr Strong said the MoU will be signed on Mr Tabata’s behalf by JP GAMES’ Global Account Manager, Ken Kawashima, with Creative Director, Hiromitsu Sasaki, also in attendance.

“Mr Kawashima and Mr Sasaki will both spend a few days in Dunedin meeting local industry and tertiary education representatives, while also enjoying the opportunity to view and photograph some of Dunedin’s unique landscapes. As a Creative Director, Mr Sasaki is especially keen on the role of landscapes in video game production and we’re looking forward to showing him what Dunedin has to offer,” Mr Strong adds.