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Grabity wins KiwiGameStarter 2016

open this image in new window: Team Ninja Thumbs

This article was published on 8 September 2016

Innovative video game Grabity is set to be New Zealand’s next digital hit export after winning the KiwiGameStarter, New Zealand Game Developers Association’s startup programme for interactive games businesses.

Grabity, developed by Auckland-based Team Ninja Thumbs, uses real-time simulation of physics as to create interesting puzzles and gameplay as robots battle each other in a futuristic test centre.

Team Ninja Thumbs will receive $10,000 sponsored by Callaghan Innovation plus software and business mentoring support worth over $20,000.

A second prize of $5,000 was awarded to Goblins of Elderstone by Lost Goblin.

30 entries were received for the 2016 KiwiGameStarter, with four finalists pitching to an industry panel during this year’s NZ Game Developers Conference.

Screenshot from a Grabity game
A game of Grabity underway

Noah Falstein, Google’s Chief Game Designer, was head judge.

“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.

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."

KiwiGameStarter, run by the New Zealand Game Developers Association, aims to help early-stage games businesses to develop prototypes ready for investment or crowdfunding. It is supported by government R&D agency Callaghan Innovation, Hudson Gavin Martin lawyers, marketers IndieDevKit and The Sound Room. Grabity will also receive three months in The Arcade Auckland games coworking space and mentoring from some of New Zealand’s most successful game developers.

“Interactive entertainment software continues to be one of New Zealand’s most innovative and fastest growing exports, growing from $20m to $89m in annual exports in the last five years. 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,” said NZ Game Developers Association chairperson James Everett.

The Media Design School has also awarded two Postgraduate Certificate in Design scholarships to KiwiGameStarter entrants Matthew Gatland and Cynthia (Qingxia) Wang.

New Zealand’s game development industry grew 13% last year to earn $88.9m in the year ending 31 March 2016 according to a recent independent survey. Almost all of that revenue (92%) came from exports of interactive software and online services. The industry is highly competitive and New Zealand’s entertainment software businesses thrive on constant creative and technological innovation to succeed.

Media contact: Stephen Knightly, NZGDA chair, 027 443 8125