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It’s that time of the year again, and time for another NASSCOM Game Developers Conference (NGDC), an event that brings together the best gaming minds in India and around the world. At last year’s NGDC, we bumped into Zynga’s Mark Skaggs, who presented the opening keynote. Before this year’s NGDC "kicks off tomorrow in Pune (Nov 02-03), we chatted up with Mr. Rajeev Vaishnav, Vice President-Member Outreach, NASSCOM, to get an early preview of what to expect at this year’s event. Excerpts from our interview:
Q) Tell us a little bit about NGDC’s history and what it’s all about?
The NASSCOM Gaming Forum which was set up six years ago organizes the annual NASSCOM Game Developers Conference which is the premier industry event in India. The NGDC provides a common platform to share best practices and knowledge to developers and businesses within the Indian gaming industry, especially the burgeoning indie game development community.
The NASSCOM Gaming Forum's advisory council, chaired by Dhruva Interactive Rajesh Rao, comprises of representatives from India's top gaming companies, including UTV Indiagames, Lakshya Digital, Zynga India, Griptonite- Glu India, Ubisoft India and Zapak. The Forum has active support and participation from Digital Chocolate, Electronic Arts, ChaYoWo games, Playdom, iBibo, Jump Games, 99 Games, Mpowered.in, Hashtag Studios, Hungama Digital and many more.
The Gaming Forum has five active city chapters - Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Pune and Bangalore - each of which regularly hosts developer meet-ups.
Q) Is this event only for people in the gaming industry? Can or should an ordinary gamer / content consumer attend the event?
The NASSCOM Game Developer conference will be attended by gaming experts and is also open for people who want to pursue gaming, and are aspiring developers. The conference can also be attended by software engineer’s students, animators and game designers.
Q) Even in India, gaming isn’t a new phenomenon; then why should we be excited about NGDC this year?
The gaming industry is still at a nascent stage in India but promises immense growth potential. Some of the major driving factors that are propelling the industry include growth of emerging and start-up gaming companies, rise in wireless usage and a proliferation of game developers. The gaming industry is constantly evolving with the introduction of new technologies in the gaming circuit.
NASSCOM recognizes the gaming industry as a significant user of technology which can further showcase India’s well established credentials in the IT Industry space. This year NGDC will witness some of the best brains from the gaming fraternity congregate to share concepts, network and showcase their work.
In an effort to encourage budding entrepreneurs, game designers and programmers, and producers the NGDC this year shall include some exciting activities. In addition to successful competitions like Build Your Own Game (BYOG), the attendees can participate as an individual developer or a team of up to 5 in the Adobe Game Jam which is an excellent opportunity to show off their coding skills, and win prizes.
Game developers can look forward to hone their marketing skills by participating in the Indie Elevator Pitch completion. This has been designed to help them develop their abilities in generating interest and funding for their games from investors all over the globe. In addition the trailers of the newly developed games will be featured on the TV display stands during the conference.
Q) Last year the NGDC keynote was presented by Zynga’s Mark Skaggs. Who’ll do the honours this year?
This year we have Mr. Glen Schofield, Co-founder, Sledgehammer Games who will be delivering the key note address. He has been creating video games for over 20 years and had started his career as an artist and an art director for Absolute Entertainment.
Some of the other international and national gaming icons to be featured this year at NGDC include Mr. Trip, Hawkins, Founder & CEO, Digital Chocolate, Mr. Rajesh Rao, NASSCOM Gaming Forum, Mr. Vishal Gondal, MD, Disney UTV and Mr. Aakrit Vaish, Director, Flurry India.
Q) Any special surprises in store for NGDC 2012?
The NGDC will witness some of the best brains from the gaming fraternity congregate to share concepts, network and showcase their work. In an effort to encourage budding entrepreneurs, game designers and programmers, and producers the NGDC this year shall include some exciting activities. In addition to successful competitions like Build Your Own Game (BYOG), the attendees will get an opportunity to participate, as an individual developer or as a team of up to 5, in the Adobe Game Jam which is an excellent opportunity to show off their coding skills, and win prizes.
Further, Game developers can look forward to hone their marketing skills by participating in the Indie Elevator Pitch completion. This has been designed to help them develop their abilities in generating interest and funding for their games from investors all over the globe. In addition the trailers of the newly developed games will be featured on the TV display stands during the conference.
Q) Why is the conference happening in Pune?
As one of the largest cities in India we think that Pune, with its young and vibrant demography is one of the most suitable cities for the NGDC as it has presence of a huge number of start-ups and is fast emerging as an important destination in India for the IT industry.
Pune has a large number of talented game designers, enthusiasts, producers and by conducting it here NASSCOM envisions the NGDC to catalyse the emerging talent amongst developers and entrepreneurs. The NGDC will provide an interactive platform for all of them to share ideas, knowledge and network with industry experts.
Q) Pune has Ubisoft and Nvidia. However, large gaming industry names, such as multinational production studios, are largely missing from the Indian market. What do you think should be done to change the situation?
The gaming industry in India has proved its capability in terms of delivering quality products and has the potential for acquiring a large domestic as well as overseas market. NASSCOM recognizes the gaming industry as a showcase of India’s well-established credentials in the IT industry space. However, factors such as government regulations, price sensitivity and a delay in introduction and adoption of proposed technology advancements like 3G/4G have resulted in making it difficult for gaming MNCs to harness the ever-growing Indian market.
NASSCOM has been consistently working towards addressing these issues in coordination with the Government. We are positive that in the coming years the business atmosphere for gaming will improve as MNCs understand that investing in India in the long term offers some advantages in terms of manpower and talent.
Q) How do you see the future of gaming and game development in India?
The gaming industry promises immense growth potential. The presence of driving factors like interest of the youth in the subject, steadily rising disposable incomes, increase in wireless usage, broadband penetration and a proliferation of game developers. The demographics in India are also favorable to gaming, since two thirds of the population is at an average age of under 35.
The significant rise in the adoption of mobility devices such as tablets and smartphones is expected to accelerate the gaming industry. With the rise of mobile penetration in the country, a larger customer base would gain exposure to mobile games, and this would lead to a rise in mobile game downloads. Further advancement from the current 3G networks to 4G enabled telecom services would increase the growth of the mobile gaming segment.
In fact the 2010 NASSCOM IGDA report on casual gaming in India reveals that Casual Gaming is expected to grow significantly at a CAGR of 32% over 2010-15.
All answers attributed to Mr. Rajeev Vaishnav, Vice President-Member Outreach, NASSCOM