The major events reported by in 2004 were:

1.Forfas report on ‘the Electronic Games Industry’, Jan.

2.Official launch of an Irish chapter of the IGDA in the Digital Hub by Ernest Adams followed by a game design workshop the next day, Jan.

3.Art of Games talk in TCD with Paul McLaughlin, head of art and Rune Vendler, Lead 3D Programmer with Lionhead Studios in the UK, Feb.

4. RoboCode in Tipperary Institute of Technology. Waterford Institute of Technology team emerges as winner, March.

5. awards, Dublin, April.

6. Dare to be Digital Ireland competition with Red Ruckus emerging as the team to represent Ireland, April.

7. IGDA Ireland Sony event on the launch of the PSP, May.

8. Sony Ireland sponsor Irish games industry dinner on Sunset Boulevard, E3, May.

9. Torc Interactive Open Day, Dublin, June.

10. First graduates from Interactive Computer Entertainment course in NWIFE, Derry and launch of games incubator, June.

11. Launch of MIDAS, Digital Content Industries Research Programme, Dundalk, joint initiative between DKIT, UU and Dream Ireland, June.

12. Launch of IT Carlow’s BSC in Computer Game Development, Sept.

13. IDA sponsor Irish meeting point at ECTS, London, Sept.

14. Awakenings ’04, Derry, Oct.

15. EI and IDA supported Games Trade Mission to Seoul, Korea, Oct.

16. Galway games mini- conference and shindig, Nov.

17. Foyle Film Festival game related workshops, Nov.

18. Digital Hub – Had exhibits and a Talk Digital on games. Companies in the Digital Depot now include Havok, TKO Software and Eirplay.

Certainly it was a busy year and each month there were major events happening in Ireland to report on here at Further, Irish companies attended all the major international events this year including GDC, ECTS, E3 and Lyon Game Connection. I am not going to write about all these events because you can search under either features of news to find out further info. Let me focus on a few of these events which I think will have future consequences.

Forfás report

Building on the much larger 2002 report Forfás consulted with the games industry and wrote a report titled the ‘Electronic Games Industry in Ireland’ which was circulated to interested parties in Jan. 2004.

The report identified short, medium and long term opportunities in all aspects of digital games and makes sobering reading for those wishing to target the console and PC segments of the industry. The report acknowledges the barriers to entry in these segments and suggests that mobile and middleware offer better opportunities for Irish companies. It also includes a long list of recommendations aimed at EI, IDA, education and the industry itself.

Launch of IGDA Ireland chapter.

Things gathered pace with the establishment of an Irish chapter of the International Game Development Association (IGDA). This event signalled a coming together of Irish game companies and academics to raise the profile of the Irish games industry both nationally and internationally.

Members of the committee in 2004 included;
Tony Kelly, Torc Interactive,
Peter Mee, Meedja,
Steve Collins, Havok,
Dylan Collins, Demonware
Michael Griffen, Kapooki
Ger Lawlor, Kapooki
Wendy Gibbons, Torc Interactive
Shane Whelan, Ballyfermot Senior College
Aphra Kerr, University of Ulster

In its first year the group organised three major events. First was the launch itself which saw Ernest Adams, game design consultant and author giving a very amusing talk to a packed room in the Digital Hub in Dublin and the following day organising a hands-on design workshop for over 100 people.

This was followed by a talk in May on Sony’s PSP with two speakers from Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) UK, Zeno Colaco, Vice President, Publisher & Developer Relations and Mark James, Account Manager 3rd Party Relations.

Finally, the group went on to organize Awakenings ’04 on October 15, 2004 in Derry. By any standards this was a major event for the group’s first year and the calibre of the speakers points to the strong international connections which Irish companies already have.

About 235 students, educators and members of the industry gathered at the Northwest Institute for Further and Higher Education (NWIFHE) in Derry to discuss the future of digital games in Ireland. Speakers included Jason Della Rocca of IGDA, game designer Graeme Devine (Ensemble), Chris Van Der Kuyl (Vis Entertainment), Marcus Mäki (Remedy) and Robbie Hegarty of the NWIFHE. Around the main event itself other meetings took place too between companies and industrial development agencies and between academics.

More info: but these pages will in future be incorporated into – watch out for our new design.

Press: See news/press_article.asp?NCID=3&NID=173&Y=2004&T=N&Print=the digital hub’s website

And Ernest seems to like my name! See:

Company news

Torc Interactive showed their Instinct game engine at GDC, sign up a number of educational institutions to their educational programme and are making moves towards establishing a game development studio. Kapooki defy the odds and are currently recruiting testers for a new game.

Havok could finally announce their involvement in Halo2 and remain Ireland’s flagship company and a world leader in middleware. Demonware are going from strength to strength and launched BitDemon Netcode, which supports console and PC multiplayer games.

Eirplay, founded in 2000 won the 02 Digital Games ’04 award for its java games. Selatra, founded in 2002 and based in Cork is also focussing on Java games and had a strong growth year. TKO Software, a recent arrival to Ireland must have broken all our records for the number of jobs they advertised on this year. UpStart Games kept a low profile concentrating on its links with the Japanese market. Meedja continued to develop projects for other companies under license and their boss Peter became a highly visible spokesperson for the IGDA Ireland chapter. CanDo kept doing and are developing interactive 3D tools for education as well.

And there are newcomers who we still want to get to know better and must congratulate. Purplenose Games and Vyro Games in Dublin, Star Cave and Nephin Games in Galway, Phooka in Derry and the very latest ( I think!) Bit Rabbit, again here in Dublin but drawing upon a strongly Francophone set of talents.

And of course let’s not forget Microsoft Game Studios and Vivendi, both of whom no doubt worked to localise and ship a lot of our Christmas presents!

And then there was that shindig jingle from fitch on the boards – the freelancers are also making their contribution.

And finally

So after all these positive developments how can I not be very happy?

Well it was sad to hear that the Bugaboo boys had to head back to England because they could not secure capital here to develop an original title. Indications from other companies also suggest that if you are in the mobile or middleware sector you will be looked upon favourably by funding bodies but funding a console or PC game is quite another matter. Perhaps this is something the industry and policy makers need to look at more closely in 2005.

What were the Irish game industry highlights of 2004 for you? If I missed something post to the forums or send me a private message and I will add the best ones to the end of this feature.

Author’s Bio and Thanks

Aphra Kerr is a full time researcher based at the Centre for Media Research at the University of Ulster.

Aphra currently edits although she couldn’t do it without her team of helpers which include Padraig Murphy, John Lynch, Ian Hannigan and Dave Kearney. Thanks also to the volunteer forum moderators Tony Kelly, Ronny Southworth and Dave Kearney.

If you would like to become involved in writing or supporting please send me a private message via the forums – we rely on volunteers to keep going.