There are several kids, who grow with a constant aspiration to do big in their lives. These people work diligently to achieve their goals and work hard to reach their respective milestones as they finish their tertiary education. Trivandrum based techie Joseph Kalathil, an alumnus from Backstage Pass Institute of Gaming and Technology, is one of those.
Working as a Gameplay Programmer at Star Stable Entertainment AB, Stockholm County, Sweden; Kalathil shares his inspiring career journey in a candid interaction. He also talks about his perseverance, passion for gaming and how strong foundation from Backstage Pass has helped him reach where he is today.
Where are you from? What is your educational background?
Before I studied Bachelor’s in Computer Science & Game Development at Backstage Pass Institute of Gaming & Technology, I graduated from St Thomas Central School which is in Trivandrum. I wasn’t a bright student back then but, because I chose the profession I loved, I ended up doing really well at Backstage Pass.
How and when did your interest in gaming started?
It started when I got my first gaming console in 2009, the original Xbox. Since then, I always wanted to make games and I told my parents that I want to become a game developer. It’s a rare scenario, where making a decision to do something very unconventional, especially when you are a kid.
Initially, my parents were apprehensive, and they wanted me to follow the conventional path of going to a regular engineering college, but I was able to convince them. I told them about the kind of exposure and education I can get at Backstage Pass would still let me get a regular IT job.
I feel that I was lucky enough to have taken that decision, which has extensively enhanced my career.
How did you come to know about Backstage Pass?
In 2015, I was looking for colleges near my hometown and luckily found one and got the admission too. But I was apprehensive about it. I calculated the number of years I would be spending in the college and afterwards before I could actually start gaming as a profession versus joining a college that specializes in Gaming courses.
Then I found Backstage Pass, which already had a reputation and a great set of alumni who were working in global companies. So, that was the moment when I decided to pursue gaming from Backstage Pass.
How was your overall experience at Backstage Pass (BSP)?
I performed quite well during my gaming course, where focus was given to practicals rather than just evaluating us based on our marks in the examination.
We had great minds working together on various gaming project, hence we had enough opportunities to discuss our subject and learn from each other a lot. I strongly feel that knowledge sharing has played a big role in how I was able to craft my career through what I have learned at the college. Having people with the same mindset is one of the major things I value at Backstage Pass.
I started programming when I was around 14. I started making games at that age, so programming has always been my cup of tea.
In addition, I was very keen on other aspects which were beyond programming like Game Design, Game Art and also making sound effects for games.
I knew a little so all in all I had a fair idea about everything that goes into making a game which has certainly helped me when I made my first game.
What is it that you can always cherish about BSP?
Among many other things, probably the incubator program that the Director of Backstage Pass, Surya sir had started, worked not just for me but for many of my classmates.
It was named Level2 Games, where students were hired for paid projects. We actually got to make games for an actual people. I was more excited because it was my first step towards having a real-life job. This assignment also got me my first paycheck and it was an amazing feeling.
Furthermore, it was a win-win opportunity for us where many of my classmates worked together to test their skills together. Not too many people get such opportunity.
Do you have any indie games that you’ve worked on?
When I was in college, we made a game for SEGAMATHON 2017. It was an all-India competition for a game jam based on the theme of cyber security. We won second place for our game. We were to make a game within 2 days-time. We put our best efforts to finish the task within time. We got the artwork, the sound and the programming done really fast to finish everything within the given timeframe. It was quite a herculin task, but I loved the adrenaline rush we got- due to this activity. We had to go to Delhi to showcase our game.
Tell us about your journey after BSP until now.
I got a job at Sumo Digital, Pune, a few months before I graduated from BSP. The office was had everything I imagined. It had all the facilities required, a dedicated gaming area, a table tennis area, nice kitchen and overall, a great working environment. Other senior employees working there were experts in their field of work and have been in the industry for a while, which certainly given me a lot of trust and confidence to do well.
I joined as a junior programmer. I got to work on a lot of amazing games like Sackboy: a big adventure, which is like the biggest game I’ve worked on. It’s a AAA game and it filled me with pride because I got to do literally everything in that game from Artificial Intelligence to gameplay. I touched upon with different verticals of the game and I managed learn a great deal of things in a very short times span.
Backstage Pass was the catalyst that let me do bigger things because my foundation was very strong. Besides, Sumo Digital is a great place which allows its employees to explore and experiment which added a lot my learning.
After spending good time at Sumo Digital, I had moved to Star Stable Entertainment in Sweden. I joined them as a consultant for around seven months before joining them as a full-time employee. I moved to Stockholm, Sweden, which is again an amazing place to live, and have great co-workers.
Which is your favorite project so far and why you liked working on it?
Definitely my first game, Sackboy: A big adventure. Apart from this I have significantly contributed on Fall guys, which is the most famous game I am associated with.
Do you see any difference in working in an Indian company, vs working in Sweden.
The work culture in Sweden is a lot different than India, in terms of maintaining a healthy work life balance. Here, we strictly do not work after working hours, not even respond to emails until we are back in office the next day. So, it is a great thing that endorses work-life balance.
Your thought on the current and upcoming gaming technology?
Currently, there are a lot of issues with Virtual Reality technology (VR), like motion sickness and headaches because of the headset. In the future, there will be incremental improvements to graphics in VR. Along with that, I am hoping that the ergonomics of the headset will improve. It’ll become lighter and more comfortable to wear and the lens becomes better for clearer visibility. In the coming years, as the technology improves, VR would become a bigger, especially when it comes to the metaverse.
Oculus a subsidiary of meta, have been making headsets for a while and their goal is to make cost effective headsets, so everyone can afford them to use to assess the metaverse. That is definitely the future, I am not sure if it’s good or bad for the humanity, but I know that what is going to happen. Everyone would have a headset and everyone would interact with media through the headset.