"The big games that Santa Claus will be delivering under the tree in a few days' time have probably been in development for three to five years."

Christmas is the peak season for video game sales with the latest releases and consoles in high demand.

Globally, the video game industry is worth around $300 billion. Ireland is hoping to attract a bigger share of that market with the recent launch of a tax credit for the development of digital games.

Some video games are already being produced here.

RuneQuest is a new game currently being developed by Black Shamrock Studio in Dublin.

Players choose warriors to do battle in a pre-historic fantasy land but before the characters ever end up on screen, they begin life in the developers' studio.

It is a large, open-plan office with images from the game hanging on the walls.

Artists' concepts have been drawn in marker on a whiteboard.

A model of one of the game's characters has been produced using a 3D printer.

Last month, Minister Paschal Donohoe tried out RuneQuest on a visit to Black Shamrock studio

It sits alongside RuneQuest board games and books.

"Depending on how you want to make a game, you could have something out to a community very quickly but the big games that Santa Claus will be delivering under the tree in a few days' time have probably been in development for three to five years," said the creative director at Black Shamrock John Molloy.

Once the artistic concepts of what a game character will look like have been established, a basic shape is produced using specialised software.

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"Our riggers then get involved and put bones into that shape giving us the hooks to make the character move," Mr Molloy said.

"Next, our animators take over and start putting the arms and legs into the right places, arranging the right poses and conveying the attitude and energy of that character," he added.

Last month, the then Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe tried out RuneQuest on a visit to Black Shamrock studio.

He was there to launch a new tax credit for the digital games sector.

Similar to tax breaks for the TV and film industries, it is hoped the new credit will make Ireland a more attractive destination for the production of video games.

RuneQuest is a new game currently being developed by Black Shamrock Studio in Dublin

"Traditionally the industry here has been quite small and essentially self-sustaining," said Craig Stephens of Imirt, the Irish Video Game Makers Association.

"This globally significant 32% tax credit allows company to get credits for an enormous amount of the cost of their game development within Ireland."

"It means that not only will we nurture homegrown talent within Ireland, we would also be expecting to generate an enormous amount of investment from abroad as well," Mr Stephens said.

As Ireland prepares to start making more video games, we are certainly not shy about buying them.

Sales of games and consoles boomed during the pandemic and it is a demand that has continued to grow.

"Over the last few years, we have not seen things slow down at all," said Jaimie Cantwell, Head of Commercial with Currys.

"Just last week we saw a 200% increase on last year with consoles like the PlayStation really driving it but we are also seeing demand for virtual reality, PC hardware, software and games," she added.

A nation of game buyers could soon become known as a major destination for game makers as Ireland gets ready to battle it out to win its share of a competitive and lucrative global market.

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