Kiwi game developers Team Ninja Thumbs will be soaring to new heights, after their video game Grabity took out the top spot in the KiwiGameStarter startup programme designed for interactive games businesses.
Team Ninja Thumbs will receive $10,000 in funding, sponsored by Callaghan Innovation for Grabity. The game features real-time physics simulation through robot battles in a 'futuristic test centre', and involves puzzles and gameplay.
The team will also receive software and business support valued at more than $20,000, as well as three months worth of mentoring for NZ's successful developers and room at The Arcade Auckland, a games co-working space.
“The Grabity team had all the ingredients for a successful startup business: a novel product, a great team and a clear business plan. Plus the prototype had the judges laughing and enjoying ourselves almost instantly - a great user experience," comments NZ Game Developers Association chairperson James Everett.
Lost Goblin's 'Goblins of Elderstone' scooped second prize, worth $5000.
KiwiGameStarter entrants Matthew Gatland and Cynthia (Qingxia) Wang have also scored scolarships to The Media Design School's Postgraduate Certificate in Design.
The KiwiGameStarter programme is run by the New Zealand Game Developers Association. This year thirty entrants took part.
The final four finalists travelled to the New Zealand Game Developers Conference and pitched to an industry panel, headed by Google chief game designer Noah Falstein.
"I was impressed by the quality and diversity of game products and gameplay styles I saw here in New Zealand. The KiwiGameStarter entrants would be contenders at any indie game competition I've seen worldwide," comments Everett.
The KiwiGameStarter programme also helps gaming startups to form prototypes that can use used for investment or crowdfunding campaigns. The programme is widely supported, with Callaghan Innovation, Hudson Gavin Martin lawyers, IndieDevKit and The Sound Room.
The innovative Kiwi game development sector has been exploding in recent years - from $20 million to $89 million in annual exports in just five years, Everett says.
“The KiwiGameStarter programme provides a fast-track for a budding developer to showcase their talent and hopefully go on to make a make on the industry globally,” he concludes.