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Otago graduates celebrate CODE funding

The New Zealand Centre of Digital Excellence (NZ CODE) announced two successful grant recipients as part of its sixth round of funding in Ōtepoti-Dunedin in August.

Pictured (L-R): Lesser Key Studios team; Cait, Seymour, Lewis, Emma, and Will.

A total of $190,000 has been allocated to two applicants within the Kickstart and StartUp categories, which supports the production of commercially viable game prototypes and production.

KickStart grant recipients and graduates of the Otago Polytechnic 2022 Game Design and Development Games Stream, Lesser Key Studios, presented one of the best applications CODE had seen. It is a testament to Whare Mātoro (Otago Games Space) and the success of the CODE-supported game development programmes of the Bachelor of Information Technology and the Bachelor of Communication Design at Otago Polytechnic Te Pūkenga.

Pictured: Red Echo artwork by Pacen Life Games

Pacen Life Games studio, led by Kane Easterbrook, was also proof the outcome of previous CODE grants coming to fruition; having received Kickstart funding in 2022 for his game 'Red Echo', Kane has now been successful for a CODE StartUp grant - to prepare the game for commercialisation and showcasing at PAX AUS with CODE during Melbourne International Games Week (MIGW) in October.

In total 12 Expressions of Interest were received in the sixth round of CODE funding, resulting in 10 full applications.

Vee Pendergrast, Industry Development Manager of CODE says, "this was a difficult round from an investment perspective, however it is so pleasing to see our first funded team of Otago Polytechnic graduates. We're starting to see the commercial fruits of this funding programme's success and our local game dev industry continues to go from strength to strength."

The Round 6 Dunedin KickStart grant recipient is:

  • Lesser Key Studios, led by Seymour Reeves-Boddy, received $40,000 for the development of Apothecurse, a hand-drawn 2D potion crafting adventure game drawing inspiration from Dunedin's rich settlement history, port legacy and Victorian gothic architecture to create a richly immersive world.

The Round 6 Dunedin StartUp grant recipient is:

  • Pacen Life Games, led by Kane Easterbrook, received $150,000 for the development of Red Echo, an immersive open world role-playing game (RPG) set amidst the mysteries of the red planet.

Further details about CODE funding can be found here.


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