MNZM - Associate
Maru Nihoniho MNZM is the managing director, game producer and designer at Metia Interactive, an award-winning game development studio. She leads a team of developers that include artists and programmers. As well as designing and developing original IP she also produces 3rd party games across multiple platforms including PlayStation, iOS, Android, PC, Mac and other technologies such as Virtual Reality.
Under Maru's leadership Metia developed SPARX, an educational tool to help rangatahi (young people) combat depression. SPARX was developed in conjunction with researchers from the University of Auckland and is an animated 3D game where young people learn life skills to combat depression by completing challenges based on proven cognitive behaviour therapies. The game has been proven to have a significant positive impact on young people aged 12 to 19 years. SPARX has won several awards including the 2011 United Nations World Summit Awards in the e-Health and Environment category.
Her first commercial title 'Cube', a puzzle game for the PlayStation Portable, was published in 2006 and released in the United States, Europe, Japan and Australasia. 'Cube 2', in development, is a psychometric test tool that will help improve spatial and cognitive abilities.
Maru provides mentoring and advice to those looking to get into game development and has given talks at schools and industry events.
In 2016 Maru was awarded a New Zealand Order of Merit for her work in gaming and mental health, and recently awarded the Innovator of the Year in 2017 MCV Pacific Women in Games Awards from Microsoft Xbox.
She is currently studying for her Masters Degree in Technological Futures through Tech Futures Lab.