Friday, August 23, 2013

Games of Imagination

Ever wondered how popular games like Angry Birds and Candy Crush were made? I was certainly curious and wanted to find out more about the whole game development process, and so, I registered for the “Game Development Can Be for Anyone!” seminar, which was one of the partner events of the Singapore Science Festival (SSF) 2013.

Is it easy to make games? This was the question on my mind. I found the answer during the seminar and also learnt more about the exciting gaming industry. I’ll tell you more in a bit.
Mr Victor Wee, a lecturer from School of Interactive & Digital Media (SIDM) conducted the seminar.  He gave an overview of the game development industry.

In the past, there was only one tool or language that could programme games, which was C/C++ Programming. One game usually took up to three people to create, and most of the work, including artwork, was done by the programmer. Today, things have changed and the industry has grown massively. There are studios with more than 100 people, all with different roles to play in creating games.   These include roles in game development such as Production, Testing, Art and Marketing.

Besides companies, there are also individuals creating games themselves. In fact, there are plenty of tools in the market to create games such as Unity, Unreal, GameMaker (free) and Construct. Also present at the seminar was Mr Andrew Lam (SIDM), who talked about the profitability of the gaming industry.
I found this part really exciting. I learnt that gaming companies make money by allowing the gamer to play the game for free and selling the virtual items in the game for real money. It sounds good in theory but it is not easy to make it work.

Said Mr Lam, “It is not about finding people who are willing to pay money for virtual goods as such people have always existed. It is about how you can convince them to spend even more money on your game!”

On the other hand, I also learnt new industry terms for the game spenders. The biggest spenders are called “Whales”, the middle tier spenders are called “Dolphins” and the lowest spenders who may spend the occasional dollar are “Minnows”. There is no term for me as I do not even spend the occasional S$1!

Mr. Andrew emphasised, “To make a ‘killer’ social game, you have to master the concept of ‘Time as Money’. Some gamers are willing to pay money to get more game moves (and thus more time to play) or virtual items to enhance their gameplay.”

“It is difficult to build an addictive game that makes millions but the playing field is quite level and you have the same chance for success as any of the big name studios,” he added.
I certainly took away a lot of interesting information from this seminar, and learnt that interesting ideas are important and success takes time.

So do you think you have the creativity and instinct to create great games? If the answer is yes, try enrolling in a Diploma in Digital Entertainment Technology (Games) course in SIDM and who knows, you may be creating the next bestselling game!
By Kiong Xiang Yi, Year 3, Diploma in Digital and Precision Engineering

Xiang Yi likes reading and travelling.  He is new to writing articles. He believes in the saying, "if you are determined to learn, no one can stop you". His dream is to travel around the world and explore it, make new friends and try new things. Being involved in SEG Club and other CCAs, he knows that going through challenging experiences can make him a stronger person and help him take on more challenges in the future.

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