Credit: Florian Olvio UnSplash

This story was originally published on 20/12/2019

The New Zealand esports scene is divided. Some people will tell you its thriving. Some people will tell you it’s limping along. It all depends on who you talk to (and when).

Part of the reason it’s so fragmented is because everyone is playing at different levels — from community to pro — and none if them are really talking to each other.

Round One

New Zealand has pro-esports teams, pulled together by the Warriors and NZ Breakers (known as Black Sheep) and a league that holds oceania championships through Let’s Play Live and a a fighting game community with regular events through Standing Fierce. On the surface, the industry looks like it’s on the cusp of a boom.

But at the community level, where…

Credit: GameTan

This story was originally published 20/12/2020

Maori and Pacific people are massively underrepresented in New Zealand’s tech and gaming industries — making up less than five per cent of the tech world. Ray Cocker, founder of GameTan, hopes that introducing kids and their families to gaming, will help grow interest and career paths for Maori and Pacific kids in tech.

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Ray Cocker’s on a mission to help making gaming more accessible and build pathways for Maori and Pacific people into careers in STEM and the New Zealand tech industry. …

Credit: Unknown

This story was originally published on 20/11/2019

The Kiwi games industry is both bigger and smaller than you think. It’s about 600 people strong and covers the main centres. Most people know of Grinding Gear Games (and especially the acquisition by Chinese company Tencent last year) or have played Dinosaur Polo Club’s massively successful Mini Metro on their mobile phone.

Still, these are by no means household names — especially in the way that people think about heavy-hitters Bethesda and Ubisoft or our local esports industry, like Let’s Play Live and The Breakers and Warriors esports teams — but that doesn’t mean it’s only bubbling away under the surface.

Ninja Kiwi and PikPok are two of New Zealand’s most successful games studios, exporting games out to the world through Steam, Apple Arcade and many others. But the road getting there hasn’t always been easy.

NinjaKiwi’s CEO and Co-Founder Chris Harris says for the…

Credit: Unknown

This story was originally published 20/10/2019

The indie gaming industry is so much bigger than you expect. Studios can range from one person hobbyists right the way up to Bungie and it’s juggernaut offering, Destiny 2, and literally everything in between.

Underneath the gloss and glamour of triple A titles like Spider-Man, God of War and the Call of Duty series, the industry is hammering its stake into the ground producing titles for Apple Arcade, Playstation and Xbox and the new crowd favourite, the Nintendo Switch.

The industry has its fair share of challenges — building studios from the ground up is an uphill battle, scale means selling hundreds or thousands of hours of work for as little as $4 and some indies take on corporate work to keep themselves afloat.

The State of Indie — the uphill battle

Tim Cullings is the…

Thanks for the image Ignacio on Unsplash

The first time you lather shaving foam over your scalp is a unique experience.

As a kid, one of the things you can’t wait to do when you grow up is start shaving. Your Dad teaches you (or is supposed to teach you) to wet your face, lather the shaving foam and heat the cartridge razor in a sink of hot water. …

Credit: Terrorhawks

This story was originally published on 07/07/2015

When anyone in our scene thinks of making it big they think of America or the UK.

They think of those as the frontiers, the places where dreams are made into reality. Rival State and Like A Storm have made the move, one to the UK and the other to the USA and they’re reaping the benefits.

But there’s a place that no one really thinks about. The place that’s home to Sonic Syndicate, Refused and Amaranthe: Sweden. Way up in the northern hemisphere it’s hidden from view as a different culture and almost a different world.

But Sweden is home to one of NZ’s little known rock bands. Up…

Credit: Flirting with Disaster

This story was originally published on 09/07/2015

I’m not going to waste time with introductions because you all probably know Chazz.

He fronted The Rabble for years, played some sick overseas shows, and now he’s got himself a little piece of disaster to flirt with.

“All those years in The Rabble gives me experience under my belt that you cannot get any other way than doing the hard yards.” Chazz tells me over email. “It gives me all the experience to get things down professionally, but at the same time, having fun with it as I don’t expect to take over the world.”

He says that but Flirting With Disaster are the kind of…

Credit: Mayday Parade

This story was originally published on 10/07/2015

Alex Garcia and I sat down for a chat ahead of Mayday Parade’s shows here in New Zealand.

He wasn’t particularly talkative — press runs can be brutal — but he was, in turns, poignant and insightful. They’re a band that have lived their lives on the road and they’ve opened their hearts to thousands of fans in every song that they’ve ever written.

It’s hard to grasp the level of success they’ve had, hard to put yourself in their shoes and think about what life would be like. It’s probably harder to try to grasp what Mayday Parade mean to their millions of fans across the world.

When you think…

Credit: Depths

This story was originally published on 12/07/2015

So, Depths didn’t break up. Nope, they’re on tour. They’ve got an album too and it’s probably the heaviest thing you’ll hear out of this side of the Southern Ocean until the nails are being driven into your coffin.

They call it The Mortal Compass. Mortality and morally and the directions we find ourselves our going. Some of us have thrown care into the wind in a time of excess and greed and others spend their days knocking on the doors of strangers’ homes trying to lead them to the arms of God.

Depths’ vocalist Josh Bain’s mortal compass points him to the stage and pushes him to put pen to paper.

“The whole idea around The Mortal Compass is the vices of man and greed and lust,” he tells me thoughtfully…

This story was originally published on 13/07/2015

I met Andrew [Ashton, guitarist] in the bowels of Ding Dong Lounge. It was the middle of the day. The jet black floors were wet and sticky, having just been mopped, and the air conditioning hummed in the background.

Sunlight streamed down the staircase from the gate in the booths it radiated from orange lights.

At this time of the day, the bar is technically closed but we sat across from each other with a pint of Epic beer, Andrew’s tattooed fingers drumming on the table, small talk about him having never been there before, about the night Seether were there after their show at Logan Campbell and with the bar’s owner, Matt, passing and out like a shadow, his feet sticking to the floor.

Andrew is your typical older rocker. Mid…

Sebastian Mackay

Pop culture writer and junkie using Medium as an archive for Music, Journalism and Podcasts.

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