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NZer turns passion for video games into a career

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Think about, dream about, design and play video games for a living. You're kidding, right?

Well, not if you're Pippin Barr.

The 32-year-old Wellingtonian who now lives in Denmark may have one of the world's best jobs. He lectures on video game design and programming at IT University of Copenhagen's Center for Computer Games Research.

Every evening he writes a blog on video games, and in his spare time he makes them himself. His latest game, The Artist Is Present, recreates a famous work of performance art at New York's Museum of Modern Art. It stirred up an international media whirlwind when it was released in September. Stories appeared such high-profile publications as The Village Voice, The Huffington Post, Slate and Der Spiegel.

To top it off, in December Awa Press will publish Barr's book How to Play a Video Game in its acclaimed Ginger Series. The book demystifies the world of video games for non-players but is also an eye-opening read for players keen to know more about this cyber universe.

Awa Press's Mary Varnham says: 'We leapt at the chance to publish this book. Video games are now a bigger worldwide industry than movies and Pippin Barr has a pretty special perspective. He's not only an avid game player but someone with a scholarly understanding of how these games are changing our lives. In New Zealand, nearly ninety percent of households have a specialised device for playing video games.'

All this came about by accident. Soon after Barr completed a degree in computer science at Victoria University he was looking about for a PhD topic when Sky Marsen, a senior lecturer at Victoria University, suggested he investigate how people interact with video games. Today he is a sought-after speaker and his articles appear in international journals. His wife, Rilla Khaled, is also an expert on video games and an assistant professor at the Center for Computer Games Research.

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