Design Week

Get out and meet people from other industries during Design Week 2009.

Design Week 2009 in association with BOMBAY SAPPHIRE is from November 2nd to 8th Design Week is a week long celebration of Irish and international design.

The main purpose is to highlight the important contribution good design makes to the cultural and economic life of Ireland through fostering a reputation for creative excellence and innovation.

There are tons of events all over the country but including Understanding Digital and Refresh focussed on digital media.

Another event of interest is the Interaction Design event in the Sugar Club in Dublin on Tues Nov 3rd. Ignite format with 5 minute talks. Bombay sapphire for the first 100 in the door apparently!
see http://defuse.ixd.ie

For all other info see http://www.designweek.ie/

The Games Industry In Ireland 2009

Note: This article is also available as a downloadable PDF file here.

Methods
The survey was set up using Survey Monkey. The draft questions were piloted with a number of people who are familiar with the industry. A database of companies was developed, and the survey was publicised on gamedevelopers.ie and at the Irish Game Dev. 2.0 event in the Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin in May 2009.

Companies whose main function was game related were invited to participate. In total, thirty-three invitations were sent out by post and e-mail to companies in the Republic and the North of Ireland.

Ten companies failed to respond, while two companies failed to complete the survey. The survey, therefore, is based on responses from twenty-one companies on the island of Ireland. It is in our view a comprehensive view of full time game companies in Ireland.

Numbers employed and occupation
In March 2002 Aphra Kerr launched a report called ‘Loading …Please Wait: Ireland and the Global Games Industry’. The research was based on fifteen face to face interviews, seven of which were with people in the Irish games industry, including Funcom, Havok, Kapooki, Eirplay and Vivendi. The rest were with government agencies, retail and media commentators.

Kerr’s 2002 report estimated that there were just over 300 people employed in the games industry in Ireland in 2002. The bulk of these, 165, were employed in localisation, with another one hundred or so in middleware and animation services, and the remainder in content development.

A Forfás study on the industry the following year estimated that there were 400 people employed across twenty-two companies (2004: 5). At the time the wider digital media industry in Ireland was estimated to consist of 280 companies employing from 4,000 to 4,500 people.

Our 2009 survey found that the games industry has expanded significantly in the past eight years. The twenty-one companies who responded employ a total of 1,277 full time permanent employees plus 170 contractors and twenty-two freelancers. This gave a total of 1,469 and represented growth of over 400% in seven years.

Of these, almost 900 are employed in ‘other’ areas, including online customer/player support, while a further 198 are employed in quality assurance. Of the balance, 104 are employed in management, seventy-two in programming, fifty-nine in localisation, and a further sixty in art, design and audio. Twenty-six are employed in marketing.

The areas of most dramatic change are online customer support and localisation. Online support was not even in evidence at the time of the last survey and has grown rapidly. Localisation, meanwhile, has declined by almost a half. Growth in programming and art jobs has increased steadily, as has employment in management and marketing.

Size, age and ownership of companies
The last five years has been a period of growth in the establishment of companies in Ireland. Significantly, thirteen of the companies who took part in the survey had been established in the last two to five years. Only two companies were older than ten years, and four respectively had been formed in the last year and were between six and ten years old.

Indigenous game development companies tend to be small, with less than fifty employees. Indeed, the majority of indigenous companies that responded to the survey employed less than fifteen (n=8).

Foreign owned multinationals tended to operate in different functional areas and employ greater numbers, i.e., from thirty to fifty employees, with one or two examples employing over 150. A couple of newly established multinationals have fewer than ten employees. The two companies which have existed for more than ten years were foreign owned multinationals.

While the two oldest companies were foreign owned, and operating primarily in support and localisation, the four companies in the six to ten year old category were Irish owned and were active in middleware, content development and publishing for mobile/web platforms.

Function of the company

Thirteen companies or just over 60%, replied that game development was their core function. A further 30% identified game publishing. The remainder were involved in support and localisation (n=5), middleware (n=4), and two stated other functions.

Most companies focused on a single function, with only one company involved in development, publishing, support and localisation. A further two companies were involved in development and support and localisation.

Platforms

Many companies are working across multiple platforms, particularly those involved in support, localisation and middleware. Smaller, indigenous companies who are involved in game development tend to focus on PC, web and mobile platforms. There are two indigenous game development companies working on console/handheld game development.

PC/Mac are the most popular platforms, followed by mobile/iPhone, and then console and web based games. Eight companies are involved in massively multiplayer online games.

Employment demographics
Females constitute 13% of the total numbers employed, although if we take out those involved in online community support they constitute just under 7%. Employment areas where women tend to be found are quality assurance, administration, management and localisation.

Without customer support the overall percentage would be lower than the UK average for women employed in the computer games industry (12% in 2006, according to Skillset) and much lower than the average for the media industries more generally (38% in 2006, ibid).

Almost 43% of employees in these companies are aged between twenty-six and thirty-five years, with a further 30% aged between eighteen and twenty-five years. By nationality, the greatest number of employees are German (n=333), followed by Irish (n=297) and other European (n=248), i.e., not French, German, Spanish or Italian. The fourth largest nationality group is British.

Location in Ireland

Thirteen of the companies who responded were located in the greater Dublin area, with nine of these stating they were located in Dublin city centre. A further five were located in Munster, with three in Ulster.

Almost half of companies had an office outside of Ireland, with a majority of these located in Europe, followed by the United States. Canada and Asia (except Japan) were joint third. Two thirds of companies had located their headquarters in Ireland. Of the third that did not, most of these (n=6) had headquarters located in the United States.

When asked why they were located in Ireland, the companies provided an interesting mix of responses. While availability of skilled labour was the most significant reason for almost half of respondents, this was followed closely by an ability to attract talent, even if it wasn’t available locally, i.e., access to Europe and an English speaking workforce. In addition, four companies cited grants and financial incentives, and one identified links to universities.

A significant issue mentioned was the fact that people were living in Ireland when they founded the company. For some, even if they subsequently moved to live elsewhere the company remained registered in Ireland.

The IDA and Enterprise Ireland were the main public sector bodies contacted for finance and advice, with three companies seeking advice from the Digital Hub and two from County Enterprise Boards. More than half of the companies had not obtained advice or finance from a public sector body.

Client markets

Given the small size of the Irish market it is not surprising that 86% of companies were selling into the European market (n=18), followed closely by the North American market (n=14) and the Irish market (n=14).

A relatively large number of companies were selling into Asia (except Japan) (n=9) and Japan (n=7), as well as sales to Australia, Latin American and Africa.

Twelve companies signaled that they engaged in outsourcing, with QA/localisation and content development the most likely areas to be outsourced. These functions tended to be outsourced elsewhere in Europe, Ireland and the UK.

By contrast, membership of international and national professional associations was low. A small number of companies (n=6) have employees who are members of the International Game Development Association (IGDA). One is linked to IBEC and one to Mobile Entertainment.

Qualifications and Links to education

The data for educational attainment is rather partial because figures were given for only one third of employees. Some respondents stated that this data was difficult to collate. The data provided, however, would suggest that a degree and above is the norm, although there are some employees with certificates and diplomas.

Good linkages exist between the third level sector and the industry, and respondents indicated a willingness to improve them. Just over half of companies offer internships to students. Five are involved in giving guest lectures, and four have been involved in course development. Nine companies would be interested in greater involvement and links with Irish universities and colleges.

Final remarks
We believe that this survey provides a comprehensive view of a growing Irish games industry. The Irish games industry is networked internationally with clients in Europe and the United States, and with a significant number of companies linking into Asia.

The Irish industry profile is growing internationally, helped in no small part by the success and acquisition of indigenous middleware companies like Havok and Demonware but also by the arrival of multinational players such as Gala Networks, Goa, Blizzard and Activision.

In the last seven years there has been a significant shift in the size and focus of the games industry. Employment has grown by about 400%, with an important expansion in online customer support. Localisation, while remaining important, has declined in employment terms within Ireland. Content development, while not the main employer, is a core function for many companies.

If we examine the industry across the value chain it is clear that some functions are more employment intensive than others. This is particularly the case in relation to publishing, localisation and online support. Game development companies tend to be much smaller in size and more focused on that particular function.

Human capital and labour are clearly important issues for these companies. Given the development of a range of new third level courses in the country in the past seven years it will be interesting to see if locally available talent will replace ability to attract talent in the coming years.

The location of companies largely in the cities of Dublin and near Cork may be related to this ability to attract talent. Ability to work across multiple platforms and linguistic skills are also clearly of importance to existing companies.

Issues that will need to be addressed include the gendered nature of the industry and the fact that few women are employed in core programming and art/design functions.

Further, it is significant that half of respondents have not had support from local enterprise development agencies. There is a need to support companies into middle age (i.e., beyond five years). Further analysis of the data will, we anticipate, lead to further insights.

We hope that this survey will contribute to a better understanding of the place of the Irish games industry within the local digital media industry and globally within the games industry.

Related documents
Forfás (2002) A Strategy for the Digital Content Industry in Ireland. Available at http://www.forfas.ie/publication/search.jsp?ft=/publications/2002/Title,882,en.php
Forfás (2004) Electronic Games Study. Unpublished internal report.
Forfás (2006) International Digital Media Industry: Implications for Ireland. Available at http://www.forfas.ie/publication/search.jsp?ft=/publications/2006/Title,757,en.php
Kerr, A. (2002). Loading… Please Wait. Ireland and the Global Games Industry (No. STeM Working Paper No 1). Dublin: STeM, Dublin City University. See http://www.stem.dcu.ie/

Kerr, A. (2003). Live Life to the Power of PS2: locating the digital games industry in the new media environment. Irish Communications Review, 9. See http://www.icr.dit.ie/

Kerr, A. (2006). The business and culture of digital games: gamework/gamplay. London: Sage.

Bios:
Aphra Kerr is a lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the National University of Ireland Maynooth. Her research focuses on the production and consumption of digital media and in particular digital games. See established www.gamedevelopers.ie in 2003. For more see http://sociology.nuim.ie/AphraKerr.shtml

Anthony Cawley is a research scholar in the Institute for the Study of Knowledge in Society (ISKS), University of Limerick. His research interests include innovation in digital media and online journalism. For more see www.ul.ie/isks.

Beta Codes For Allods Online

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(Edit 25/11/09) This competition is now closed.

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Anyone who was at the last shindig in Dublin will have had a chance to preview and discuss the forthcoming launch of Allods Online by Gala Networks Europe.

Now Gala Networks Europe, the Dublin based publisher of free MMORPGs, has partnered with GameDevelopers.ie to promote the launch of Allods Online.

Developed by Russia’s leading developer, Astrum Nival, Allods Online offers players a subscription quality, AAA MMORPG experience, completely free for life, and with no subscriptions.

All that is required to play is a free account on the www.gPotato.eu portal, and registration with the Allods Online Closed Beta Lottery at http://en.allods.gpotato.eu/ad

But we have a hundred beta keys to give away directly to GameDevelopers.ie readers. To get your beta key, simply send a PM (via the gd.ie forums) titled “Gimme a Allods Online Beta Key” to jamiemc on the forums.

Please note: This competition is for the English version of Allods Online and is only available to existing and active GD.ie members. Newly registered users from outside Ireland will not receive beta keys in this competition.

If you are run a games related college course or society in Ireland, please specify what college, course or society you are with, and you can get up to ten beta keys.

You can find out more about Allods Online at http://facebook.com/allodsonline-en ,
http://twitter.com/allodsonline_en and
http://youtube.com/allods .

Find out more about the game by clicking on the news button at http://allods.gPotato.eu

Thanks to Gala Networks Europe and Jamie for the codes!

Workshop On Teaching In Virtual Worlds

For those of you working on serious games or involved in education this may be of interest.

Aphra.

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University of Ulster, Magee, Derry 20th November 2009

· Considering using virtual worlds for teaching and want to know where to start?

· Curious about how others are using virtual spaces for teaching?

· Interested in learning how the future of undergraduate education will be shaped by immersive technologies?

IMMERS[ED] 2009; National Workshop on Teaching in Immersive Worlds will be hosted by the School of Computing & Intelligent Systems and will take place in the Great Hall of the University of Ulster, Magee Campus, Northern Ireland on the 20th November 2009 (registration from 8.30, start at 9.30).

The workshop has an International line-up of speakers from the UK and Ireland and will offer a series of insightful talks examining the theoretical and practical aspects of teaching using virtual worlds such as Second Life, Opensim and Metaplace.

Speakers include John Kirriemuir of Virtual Worlds Watch, Daniel Livingstone (SLOODLE) & University of West Scotland, David Burden (PIVOTE) & Daden Limited, Michael Callaghan and Kerri McCusker of the University of Ulster, Tim Savage and Carina Girvan of Trinity College Dublin and Barry McAdam and Anna O’Donovan of INTEL.

The objective of the event is to raise awareness of the benefits and possible pitfalls of using virtual and immersive worlds in an educational context and will provide practical advice and demonstrations from leading educators and industrial experts in this area.

It will highlight funding opportunities available in this field and offer tips on how to focus your research to maximise your chances of succeeding with applications.

The workshop is organised by the Serious Games & Virtual Worlds Research Team and the School of Computing & Intelligent Systems, Faculty of Computing and Engineering and co-sponsored by the University of Ulster, Office of Innovation Knowledge Club Program.

There is no fee to attend but you must register as places are strictly limited. For further details on this event please contact workshop organisers Michael Callaghan,mj.callaghan@ulster.ac.uk or Kerri McCusker, ka.mccusker@ulster.ac.uk

To register and for further information please go to the workshop website.

http://www.learninginvirtualworlds.com/

Music In Games & Showcase

This guy has done the music for a lot of games and his game credit list includes games for Playfirst and Big Fish games see http://www.thomas-regin.com/script/site/page.asp?artid=16&cat_id=25 for the full list. Below is the press release for the event.

They are also looking for people to showcase their own games….

Aphra.

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A Day in the Life of a Music Maker for Video Games & Film
Twisted Pepper

31st October

2pm-5pm

Tickets 10 euro online or 12 at the door

Danish Composer for video games and films, Thomas Regin, and a number of amateur & pro games developers, filmmakers and musicians will be at the Twister Pepper, on Saturday 31st October (2pm-5pm) as part of the meetforeal.com series of events that provoke idea sharing and inspiration, with passionate speakers, and cool conversation with people from diverse industries.

All films need music and all video games need music… so what we want to do is bring the worlds together for a brief afternoon :)

If you just want to come, all you need is a curious nature… and a ticket – you can get tickets (just 10 euro online) on our website: http://www.meetforeal.com/retrieveevent.do?eid=24

If you want to showcase what you are working on, in video games, film or music, email ellen@meetforeal.com and get free tickets for you and a friend!

Halloween costumes are welcome :)

Open Innovation Seminar

This session might be of interest to those in the West.

Aphra.

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Open Innovation – a New Paradigm for R&D

NUI Galway is delighted to host an INNOVATION LECTURE as part of the InterTradeIreland All-Island Innovation Programme, and you are cordially invited to attend this free and open event presented by Professor Henry Chesbrough, Director of the Centre for Open Innovation, University of California, Berkeley

Thursday 12 November 2009 (6.00pm – Refreshments from 5.30pm). Áras Moyola, National University of Ireland, Galway

The concept of Open Innovation advocates that companies can no longer keep their own innovations secret. The key to success is creating an open platform around your innovations so your customers, your employees and even your competitors can build upon them. Only then will you create an ongoing, evolving community of users, doers and creators.

Today, in many industries, the logic that supports an internal and centralised approach to R&D has become obsolete. This change creates a new logic of open innovation that embraces external ideas and knowledge in conjunction with internal R&D. However, companies must still perform the difficult and arduous work necessary to convert promising research results into products and services that satisfy customers’ needs.

Innovators must integrate their ideas, expertise and skills with those of others outside the organisation to deliver the result to the marketplace, using the most effective means possible. In short, firms that can harness outside ideas to advance their own businesses, while leveraging their internal ideas outside their current operations, are likely to thrive in this new era of open innovation.

Henry Chesbrough is Executive Director of the Centre for Open Innovation at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. He has a unique background as both a practitioner and researcher having spent 10 years in senior product planning and strategic marketing positions in Silicon Valley.

His research interests include a focus on innovation; managing R&D; technology-based spin-offs; corporate venture capital; and evolution in high-technology industries in the US, Europe and Japan. His book, Open Innovation, articulates a new paradigm for organising and managing R&D. This book was named a “Best Business Book” by Strategy & Business magazine.

Please feel free circulate details of this free event to colleagues and contacts who may be interested in attending. All are welcome.

To confirm your attendance, please register on-line at http://www.conference.ie/Conferences/AddRegistration.asp?Conference=84 or visit www.nuigalway.ie/cisc for more information.

Gd.Ie Informal Meet

There will be an informal pub meet, or what we call locally a ‘shindig’ this coming Friday night, the 9th of October, upstairs in Nealon’s pub on Capel street in Dublin from 7pm.

Basically this is a way to get to know gd.ie members and everyone is welcome, from industry veterans to academics and students.

The pub is towards the Liffey end of Capel street so quite central. Find out more about it at see http://jacknealonspub.com/Home.html

If you are new and don’t know what any of us look like pm someone via the forums and get a mobile number. See the discussion at http://www.gamedevelopers.ie/forums/viewtopic.php?p=42158#42158

We hope to get there about 7pm as Leinster are playing in the Heineken Cup from 8pm (rugby!) so the pubs will get pretty packed for that.

I should have the first results of our industry survey available too!

Try to drop in, even just for ‘the one’.

Popcap Investment

PopCap, the casual games company which has a studio in central Dublin, has secured investment capital of $22.5 million.

For more on this story see http://www.casualgaming.biz/news/29301/PopCap-secures-225-million-investment

Darklight

This year is the tenth anniversary of Darklight, a festival of film, art and technology.

The festival is taking place all around Smithfiled in dublin this year from the 8th-10th of Oct and includes screenings, workshops on animation and the EA gaming hub. The festival club will be in the Dice bar, just off Smithfield.

Of particular interest to our readers might be the TRIBUTE TO BROWN BAG FILMS
Saturday, October 10th @ 1pm
Light House Cinema

Join Brown Bag Films founders Cathal Gaffney and Darragh O’Connell for a celebration of Brown Bag Animation; this screening of Brown Bag classics past, present and future includes their first production Peig from 1994 and their 2002 Oscar® nominated Give Up Yer Aul Sins, as well as more recent work like Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty and Olivia. The event is accompanied by a public interview with the Brown Bag team, as they discuss the the challenges – and the fun – of running an international animation success story. Brown Bag are also hosting an animation workshop – more info here:

http://www.darklight.ie/2009/09/08/animation-101-from-concept-to-greenlight-to-delivery-2009-10-09/

for more on tickets etc. see http://www.darklight.ie/festival-2009/2009-schedule/

Tell them we sent you!