The LEVEL UP KL 2017 speakers at the opening ceremony. (Pix by Izwan Ismail)
Hasnul said MDEC has continued to push for greater cooperation among nations within the Southeast Asia games community as it seeks to strengthen the region’s position among global players. (Pix by Izwan Ismail)

THE gaming industry in Southeast Asia is about to get extra boost as the LEVEL UP KL 2017 Conference, in its third year, will be doing more than continuing the engaging discourse it is known for.

This includes exploring cross-border alliances with regional associations and creating strategic partnerships with technology enablers to drive the region’s games development industry forward.

According to Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation’s (MDEC) vice-president of Creative Content and Technologies Hasnul Hadi Samsudin, the agency has continued to push for greater cooperation among nations within the Southeast Asia gaming community as it seeks to strengthen the region’s position among global players.

“The Malaysian government recognises the gaming industry as an important engine of economic growth in the region. The support we receive from LEVEL UP KL year-on-year, along with the solid alliance with prominent players in the industry, indicates that this region has what it takes to drive this robust, dynamic, and multi-national industry. More importantly, this positive development has positioned us as an emerging games producing region,” said Hasnul.

The main two-day event on Nov 7 and 8, featured top industry players from around the world, covering both the business and technical facets across various games development platforms such as mobile, PC, and console.

Among the prominent speakers featured were Danny Koo from Marvel Entertainment, Brian Recktenwald of Naughty Dog, Appxplore’s Desmond Lee, and Falk Au Yeong with SoundtRec Malaysia.

There was also an industry showcase and exhibition featuring the SEA Game Awards finalists alongside other indie games developer studios, and an exhibit ion of product and services from companies operating in the industry.

While the gaming market in the region represents only 4 percent of global consumption, it is forecasted to grow with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30 per cent by 2018.

"This will be mostly due to Southeast Asia’s large and youthful population as well as its position as a beneficiary of technology commodities. In Malaysia alone, the industry contributed over RM464 million of export sales in 2016 and is growing at an equally impressive rate of 37 per cent from the year before," says Hasnul.

This potential growth presents massive prospects for Malaysia as it aims to become the preferred regional hub for games development and delivery by 2025, an inspiration that is in line with the country’s Digital Economy initiative.

To strategically and effectively capitalise on this potential, MDEC is set to announce cross-border collaborations with regional organisation at its Partners Announcement session, involving Discovery Nusantara Capital (DNC), Game Developers Association of the Philippines (GDAP), Taipei Computer Association (TCA), and Tokyo Contents Incubation Centre (TCIC) among others.

The announcement will also see the agency partnering up with platform and technology providers including Google, Sony Interactive Entertainment and Amazon to power up LEVEL UP Inc – the newly built incubator facility in Bangsar South that will provide comprehensive support for talent development and business enhancements for the games industry.

Opportunities for games development

The event this year is expected to gather over 700 participants, speakers, and exhibitors from Southeast Asian countries and beyond.

It is targeted at industry players and the gaming community at large, including developers, publishers, vendors, technology providers, students, and academicians, with the focus on driving meaningful conversations which could translate into future partnerships and collaborations.

Among the key line-ups for the event included the Southeast Asia Game Jam (Nov 4 and 5), which is a 36-hour game jam, organised by the Malaysian chapter of International Game Developers Association (IGDA Malaysia).

Game Jam showcased promising games developers from the region where they displayed their raw skills and creativity in the art of game-making. The goal of Game Jam is to have participants create games in a collaborative environment under a tight deadline.

Besides that, there will be workshops, including hands-on workshop with the world’s top games industry experts on various topics, such as games design, concept and environment art, and audio.

In ensuring that participants can have the opportunity to develop business network and bring that creation further, MDeC also organised a Business Connection Programme.

"This is a business matching and networking platform for delegates to build networks, connect, and explore potential business opportunities with participating companies," said Hasnul.

Finally, the Southeast Asia Game Awards, which is organised by MDEC and supported by MYGameOn, is meant to recognise outstanding, artistic, and creative efforts for technical and gameplay achievements in the games industry within the region.

"The games industry in Southeast Asia is particularly unique as each country possesses their own characteristics and capabilities. Through the SEA Game Awards, we hope to position the region as a serious global player and provide countries within the region an opportunity to showcase their distinct characteristics to the world. In the long run, we expect to see larger international studios and publishers looking at Southeast Asia for its human capital and coming on board as active investors,” said Hasnul.

Over 75 game submissions – published and unpublished – from indie game developers, studios, game publishers, and students have been sent in, with 30 games shortlisted as finalists. The awards are divided into 10 categories including Best Visual Art, Best Game Design, Best Rising Star, and Audience Choice Award.

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