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Are you game?

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It takes a combination of technical skill sets, knowledge of different platforms, design skillsand passion to entertain to make it big inthe gaming industry.

All fun:Game development demands creativity and understanding of user needs.Photo: AFP
All fun:Game development demands creativity and understanding of user needs.Photo: AFP

At his small but well-equipped studio, Vijay Varadan, Founder-CEO of Axham Games, tells me he is about to break into the big video games market.

I want to know where he gets his programmers from. “I hire carefully,” he says. “The evaluation process is intentionally long to weed out candidates who may not have the fortitude and stamina to make it in this field.”

After the initial informational interview, he invites first-round winners to spend a day at the studio. While they get down to complete an open-ended task, he gets a chance to assess them. Is he/she a good fit — technically, creatively and culturally? Can he meet his hard/soft criteria?

Thrive in the pressure-cooker environment of professional game development? Balance the needs of technical and artistic aspects? Realise it is games — not code? Can the aspirant understand what makes a game fun, where the challenges are, how the player meets those challenges, how player expectations are satisfied, what the competitive side of gaming is?

Skill sets

What about the resume, I ask. “It’s a highly competitive industry, one must have a strong body of work to be invited for an informational interview,” he says.

Familiarity with programming, hardware architecture, physics, mathematics, art, modelling, texturing, rigging, animation, sound design, audio engineering and the hard-to-quantify game design are preferred qualifications.

Also in-depth knowledge of at least a couple of them is a must; so are drive, motivation, self-management, and thirst to achieve.

Not too many meet these standards. There’s insufficient understanding of computing fundamentals — how various layers of software mesh with one another and with underlying hardware, he says.

Folks with clear understanding of the innards of systems they’ve been working with for years are hard to find. Most learn “fixed” animation, that is pre-cut and designed for a non-interactive medium like films. In games a person controls the character via input devices. The animator needs to make that leap to an interactive medium. “Engineering is not about what and how, it’s about why.”

“Game development involves programmers, digital 2D/3D graphics artists, creative art directors, product development managers, sound designers, musicians and marketing/online community managers,” says Bhargav Sri Prakash, Founder/CEO, FriendsLearn.

Technical skill-sets and passion for gaming will get you a toe-hold in the gaming industry. He believes job opportunities in the gaming industry are vibrant and lucrative.

Skills gained here are transferable, desired by other technology industries. Gaming industry often pioneers new technology which has a powerful trickle-down effect of impacting other industries.

The most successful on iOS and Android platforms are gaming companies. They have deep insights about addressing user-engagement, user-experience, interface design, optimisation, and network performance. “Developers of games will always be highly sought-after by other technology companies.”

Courses

“Understanding the science behind the development of a game product is the key to unlock the potential towards it,” says Madhan.R, COO, Image Infotainment Limited. He lists ICAT Design and Media college — Chennai/Bangalore/Hyderabad, Image, Academy of Animation and Gaming, Mumbai and Backstage Pass, School of Gaming for pursuing vocational and full-time degree courses.

Image, founded in 1996, has 30 vocational centres across India providing Digital Media Technology, he says. ICAT, ranked top in India for Animation and Game training, provides foreign learning experience in India through ICAT’s UK-validated courses.

At Image, students begin by exploring design elements, principles, colour, scale, typography, storytelling formats, and move on to history and evolution of computer gaming industry.

Principles of gaming, level designing, GDD, game testing and prototyping form part of the course. They work on life-drawing, photography, tactile model-making and performance-based arts like acting and motion studies. Visual research and writing form an integral part of the programme.

Lessons include math/physics for gaming, data structure, A.I for games, networking fundamentals, programming for 2D games with C++, J2ME, and flash scripting. Students grapple with graphic libraries of DirectX to produce 2D/3D games, try out game engines.

Students explore the difference between PC and Console by working on porting content for the Xbox.

Visiting professionals bring current industry experience to the course, and professional practice at the end of the course helps students contextualise their knowledge.

Mobile platforms using a variety of game engines demand multi-skilled people who can migrate from one language to another smoothly. If coding experience in C++, C# and Java are valuable in breaking technology limitations, knowledge of digital art tools like Photoshop and 3ds Max are important in design and blending quality. Scripting languages like JavaScript, C# script, Unreal script make you comfortable in commercial game engines.

“Attitude and aptitude are equally critical,” Madhan says. Be ready to be divergent and flexible. Bhargav says, “Despite our technical talent we have not created a globally successful title or franchise. [Since] our potential for the gaming industry is very strong, domestic gaming companies will deliver globally sensational titles.”

Programmes in India:

Vocational Courses:

Certificate course in Gaming

Diploma in gaming

Diploma in Mobile Gaming

Full Time UG and PG courses:

BA Game Art and Design

BSc Game Programming

BSc Game Design and Development

PG Diploma in Game design

PG Diploma in Game development

Check out www.icat.ac.in, www.image.edu.in

Must-have attributes:

Passion to innovate in order to stand out.

Determination to spend time on an entertaining product, learn from mistakes, work under stress, complete the job.

Problem-solving with creative thinking. Logical/analytical thinking to implement functionality, ability to test new approaches.

Curiosity and flexibility. Must love continuous learning/re-learning and adapt to latest technology.

Being pragmatic. Readiness to explore, analyse, evaluate new products critically.


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