In PH’s game dev’t sector, work equates to fun

The gaming development industry in the Philippines is proud of one thing that is not quite common in the highly stressful BPO industry – a low attrition rate.

Alvin Juban, head of operations of Secret6 and president of the Game Developers Association of the Philippines (GDAP), says there are a number of reasons why gamers are enticed to stay in the 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 says. “You have to be very team oriented.”

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 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.”

According to 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 5 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 specialize in mobile and social games.

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, said Juban.

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,” says Juban. “In gaming, it’s everything.”

A promising developer will undergo training on 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 explains.

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 says. He adds that sound engineers and producers perform vital roles in the sector.

The Philippines’ number one competitor in this industry is China, followed by Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam, which Juban considers the dark horse.

He recalls 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’re aiming too low. A lot has changed,” he said.

Still, Juban expresses 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.”

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