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Award-winning alumnus ahead of the game
Published: 17 May 2012
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Prof. Ted Zorn and Stephen Knightly

You could soon be managing Six60 through your iPhone thanks to the winner of this year's Ted Zorn Waikato Alumni Award in Management Communication.

Stephen Knightly, director of InGame and Pursuit PR, is a Waikato masters graduate with a successful track record in both communication consulting and video game development. He is currently working on a game for NZ On Air aimed at promoting New Zealand music by allowing players to manage a band or artist.

He and his team have also developed a game for University of Auckland medical students to help them develop bedside manner and apply what they’ve learnt in their first three years of study.

Knightly combined his public relations and marketing experience with his love of computer games to develop a consulting niche that holds many business opportunities.

“The strength of video games is they are so engaging,” he says. “People will spend hours playing them, rather than spending 30 seconds watching a television advertisement. Businesses dream of having an audience choose to engage with their brand voluntarily, and games provide a platform for that type of engagement.”

The alumni award, established in 2004 by Professor Ted Zorn, is presented annually to a Waikato management communication graduate who is excelling in their field and who has a strong focus on ethical practice, sustainability and innovation. The selection committee for the award included Professor Ted Zorn, Professor C. Kay Weaver, and Graeme Purches, community relations manager at TrustPower and former president of the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand.

Knightly graduated in 1999 with a Master of Management Studies degree, in which he completed a thesis on chat room communication, before embarking on a successful PR career in New Zealand, London and the Middle East.

“My study at Waikato taught me about human communication, which has helped me develop a deeper understanding of the behavioural psychology behind making games engaging and fun and ultimately good communication tools.”

Knightly will receive his award at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts at 5.30pm on Wednesday 9 May.

Knightly was Waikato University's Director of Marketing from 2003 to 2006 before moving to consultancy firms Baldwin Boyle Group and Text 100. He currently chairs the New Zealand Game Developers’ Association, sits on the board of Creative Digital Content Auckland, and runs the monthly Auckland Game Developers’ Meetup.