Employment in Ireland’s digital gaming sector grew 90pc between 2009 and 2012 and this growth rate can be sustained and accelerated over the next three years, the annual Games Fleadh in Thurles, Co Tipperary, heard today.
Some 2,500 games professionals and programmers from all over Ireland are in Thurles this morning for the two-day Fleadh.
Event founder Philip Bourke predicts the sector could create thousands of new jobs over the coming years.
The sector has seen a tripling of games developer companies between 2009 and 2012 – mostly in the indigenous sector – resulting in a 90pc growth in employment.
Bourke believes this growth rate can be accelerated in the coming years.
The Irish Government has already identified the sector as a cluster for job creation. Jobs Minister Richard Bruton has established an industry group consisting of executives from the major games companies present in Ireland to spearhead a strategy to create 2,500 new digital games jobs by 2014.
“We have an explosion in the indigenous sector and have landed some really impressive FDI global brands over recent years,” Bourke said.
“The FDI jobs are mostly in support centres and we need to attract more of these but the jobs growth rate will really multiply if we can develop Ireland as a global hub for game development.
“The missing link we need is to increase our output of character artists, people who will design the actual characters for the games. We have everything else; game designers, programmers, graphic designers, developers and improved competitiveness as a destination for FDI,” Bourke added.
Putting Ireland on the video-games industry map
The Irish Games Industry Survey 2012 by Jamie McCormick, marketing systems manager with Dublin-based GALA Networks Europe, showed that the Munster and Connacht regions have experienced the biggest increase in jobs but are more reliant on major FDI employers, whereas Dublin has a greater critical mass of indigenous companies employing the same numbers as the Connacht and Munster regions.
According to Bourke, a focus area going forward has to be on helping the smaller indigenous developers get their games published but the indigenous sector can also help attract further FDI.
“We are creating a real opportunity here for Ireland as the proliferation of indigenous games developers is sending a strong signal to multinationals that Ireland is a cutting-edge location when it comes to games development. We are building a real pedigree in Ireland.
“The Games Fleadh is playing a role in that and its organic growth has been partly responsible for the development of a cluster of start-up companies here on our campus in Thurles alone. To support this, and the wider industry, we are in the process of establishing our own Games Research Centre here. One of the first things this centre will do is conduct research into how companies can best promote their digital games, which could have real benefits for indigenous Irish companies to commercialise their games,” Bourke said.
Oscars of Irish gaming
One of the highlights is tonight’s ‘Oscars’ of Irish computer gaming, the Engineers Ireland Game Developer Awards, which this year has seen a doubling in the number studios and games nominated for 12 awards.
Students are also participating in a range of gaming competitions at the event, which will also celebrate the 30th anniversary of the classic game Robot Tank from Activision Publishing Inc, while a number of industry experts will address the future of the emerging industry and its significant job-creation potential.
As well as the awards tonight, students from third-level institutions around the country are today going head to head at the Games Fleadh in a range of computer-game tournaments, including:
- Far Cry 3 by Ubisoft
- Mortal Kombat by Warner Brother Games
- FIFA 13 by Electronic Arts
- Battlefield 3 by Electronic Arts
- Counter-Strike: Source by Valve
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