Abstract- Melanie Swalwell

Early Digital Games Production in New Zealand

This illustrated paper reports on the early digital games industry in New Zealand, during the late 1970s and 80s. It presents an overview of this largely unknown history, drawing on in depth archival research, interviews with key industry participants and collectors. It discusses the local production of consoles, handhelds, and arcade games in this market, as well as anomalies of distribution of game systems widely available elsewhere, which was the context for this production. While relative isolation – geographical and policy driven – accounts for part of the booming manufacture during this period, the paper questions how helpful it is to treat early local games production as just a phenomenon of the local. While it is sometimes strategically useful, it is argued that this production of locality can mask more complex intersections between the local and non-local – or global – factors, the heterogenising aspects of globalization in this period of early digital games.