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Technology

Game on! Leveling up careers in Phl game development

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Video game enthusiasts range from the casual gamer to the hardcore, but it is a serious business that is expected to rake in approximately $30 billion in the Asia-Pacific region by 2016 according to a study by Ovum.

The gaming industry in the Philippines has still a lot of growing up to do, said Alvin Juban, head of operations of Secret6 and president of the Game Developers Association of the Philippines (GDAP). 

“We have had the best two years of work. Before, we had gaps between projects. Now what happens is when you end a project, you receive two, which is a good sign,” he said.

According to the GDAP, there are about 3,000 professionals in the industry representing roughly 60 companies.

The country’s game development sector earned an estimated $70 million from late 2011 to early 2012. Approximately five percent of its talent pool works on console game services, 15 percent focuses on quality assurance (QA), game design consulting, and game community support, while the rest specializes in mobile and social games. 

 

Top skills in game development

 Careers available in game development include Java developers, iOS, Android, and C++ developers, PHP and MySQL developers, and Actionscript developers, all of which are relatively difficult to find, Juban said.

They require an educational background in computer science, information technology, science or mathematics.

“In my company, a simple programmer won’t cut it. We need a developer who is very knowledgeable in physics and math. Sadly, most programmers don’t listen to physics or math even in high school,” Juban said. “In gaming, it’s everything.”

A promising developer will undergo training in velocity, gravity, collision, and the like. “That’s the biggest challenge. We usually get people who have the initiative to study things on their own. They usually Google it or go to a seminar. They will have to go the extra mile,” Juban said.

De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde currently offers a four-year course on game design and development, and Juban hopes that other schools will follow suit.

Those interested in working in game development but have no background in computer science or information technology can consider becoming a game designer. A game design document (GDD) is needed before a game is even built.

“A game designer is neither a programmer nor an artist. He or she is someone who knows video games very well, gameplay, and can write very well,” Juban said, adding that sound engineers and producers perform vital roles in the sector.

 

Not your typical day at the office

 In road shows for the Next Wave Cities program, a project led by the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) and the Department of Science and Technology-Information and Communications Technology Office, Juban said he usually tells the audience, “What do you think gamers do after work? We play games. During the weekend, when we want to socialize and relax, what do you think we do? We play games. We are what we do.”

There are a number of reasons why gamers are enticed to stay in this industry. “We have such a low attrition rate because when you get into a gaming company and you love playing games, why would you want to leave? It’s not a boring job.” Juban added. “You have to be very team-oriented.”

The Philippines’ number one competitor in this industry is China, followed by Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam, which Juban considers the dark horse. He recalled a discussion he had with an executive from Vietnam, who said they had 10,000 game developers among a handful of companies.

“We keep saying by 2015, we want 10,000 people. But now, we find that we are aiming too low. A lot has changed,” he said.

Still, Juban expressed his commitment to the industry: “The entire video game industry is barely 30 years old, so it’s still new. I am pretty new to the gaming industry and I’m willing to bet the rest of my life in this industry.”

ACTIONSCRIPT ALVIN JUBAN BUSINESS PROCESSING ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES DE LA SALLE-COLLEGE OF SAINT BENILDE DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY-INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY OFFICE GAME GAME DEVELOPERS ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES INDUSTRY JUBAN NEXT WAVE CITIES
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