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Game for gaming: Gen-Y geeks go pro

Published on : August 29, 2011
Game for gaming: Gen-Y geeks go pro

Shivani Shinde / Mumbai August 29, 2011, 0:51 IST

Hiring is in full-swing at the Mumbai office of India’s largest mobile and online gaming firm UTV Indiagames. The reception area is packed with young turks in their early 20s, dressed in jeans and T-shirts, waiting patiently for their interview. The two conference rooms are abuzz with senior management working on identifying the right prospects.

Max gaming, which was considered to be a hobby, has moved away from being a past time. The booming gaming industry following the entry of Apple’s Appstore has changed the way mobile phones were used — an increase in internet consumption and growing adoption of social networking platforms have contributed to this phenomenon.

The Indian gaming industry is yet to have its own Mark Skaggs (developer of FarmVille) of Zynga or witness an over-night success with a hit like Angry Birds developed by Finnish firm Rovio. But their success has given enough for gen-next who aspire for a similar if not bigger success.

Take the case of 22-year-old Yukti Pal from Mumbai. Just five months into her first job at Zapak as game tester, she spends over eight hours playing games. She had dreamt of being in this profession since childhood.

“Name any game and I have played it. At home I have Sony PSP, PS3 and Xbox. Beyond this I have been an arcade player too. I have been hooked to games as a kid when my father would get us video games. But as I grew I knew that I had to be in this industry.” Pal’s ambition is to finally get into game development and create hit games.

She spends most of her time at home playing virtual tennis on her PS3. “I would say the mind-set towards this industry as a serious profession has definitely changed.”

Hrishi Oberoi, 34-year-old director of Indiagames, is one of the few successful professionals from the Indian gaming industry. Oberoi has been with Indiagames since 2002, he joined as a programmer and went on to become a director of the Indiagames Studios.

In 2002, the Indian gaming industry was minuscule but he chose to go to the US to learn the best skills. Oberoi says the industry has changed a lot. “Back then mobile games had just started. We were already working with players like Nokia.” Oberoi, was a programmer for one of the games that Indiagames developed, which went on to change the firms fortunes. The game was based on Spiderman. Today, the mobile gaming industry is a Rs 280-crore market, according to Ficci-KPMG India media entertainment industry report 2011, and is expected to have a compounded annual general growth rate of 45 per cent to reach Rs 1,740 crore by 2015.

Raghav Anand, segment champion (new media), Ernst & Young feels that globally, where gaming (mobile & console) is a huge market, compared to that in India, it is the mobile gaming sector that has been leading the industry growth.

It’s precisely this growth that has fuelled the change in perception of the industry. “With many of the international firms setting up shop in India the opportunity in this segment only seems to be increasing,” says Anand. Anila Andrade, associate producer at 99Games, agrees. “I started as a tester in the IT sector. I was working with Robosoft, which is an IT firms as well. But once Apple launched its App store we started getting a lot of work. That was the time Robosoft started a sister firm 99Games that caters to the entire game development cycle.”

For a self-confessed FarmVille addict, Andrade is enjoying being a gamer. On work, at least six to eight hours of Andrade is spent on games. “It could be testing, programming etc. Besides this I spend another one-two hours playing games at home.” Her first games “WordsWorth”, where she also spent considerable time developing it, was among the top 10 in the word category on Appstore. Since then she has not looked back. But Andrade says it’s not all about fun and play. “There has to be a creative streak to game development.” Click here

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