Home-grown game developers ready to take on the world

As video games become more and more commonplace, consumers can find them virtually everywhere.

Instead of being restricted to home consoles, personal computers and low-end cell phone games, high-quality games are being published online and downloadable through smart phones and tablet PCs. Others are played through social networks such as Facebook.

Furthermore, many of these games are created and developed by local developers working across Indonesia.

Operating by and large under the radar, Indonesia’s game developers run mostly on passion and dreams to create products that reach across the globe.

Veteran game designer Bullitt Sesariza, co-founder of the Jakarta-based game development firm Logika Interaktif, said that the rapid growth of internet access in Indonesia has unleashed unprecedented potential for the local game developing industry.

“Nowadays, there is no difference between developing a video game in Indonesia or doing it in Europe or America. It’s just a matter of whether you can develop a good game that people like,” he told The Jakarta Post over the phone.

Bandung-based game designer Nikki Dibya Wardhana, who co-founded the Agate Studio game development company in 2009, said that the gaming industry was among those with the smallest entry barriers in Indonesia.

“A person can own only one middle-end personal computer and a few freeware programs to create video games that generate revenue that can reach into the tens of thousands of [US] dollars,” he told the Post in an email.

“Technically, [Indonesia’s] chance to penetrate the global market is the same as game developers in countries with more advanced gaming industry,” he said.

According to Nikki, the company only employed a staff of 16 people at its inception.

“This year, we are expanding our number to 50,” he said.

While he refused to give any details on the company’s annual revenue, he said that the rapidly increasing number of employees in just two years should indicate that business is good.

He said that quality education was one of the biggest obstacles in creating a sustainable gaming industry in Indonesia.

“This country has many passionate aspiring game developers who have no idea of where to learn and what to learn,” he said, adding that he hoped that some of the country’s leading universities should open up to the idea of establishing game-developing curriculum.

Bullitt shared this sentiment, saying that the government and universities should give more support to the local gaming industry.

“Minimal government support is part of the problem [for the local gaming industry]. The industry can be likened to a baby who has to compete with adults from more developed nations. The government does little to help us,” he said.

He added that businesspeople in the gaming industry, such as online game publishers, should afford more trust to local developers and publish their games instead of just importing foreign games.

The government has included interactive games as one of the 14 fields in the creative economy, along with architecture, fashion, music and film. (mim)

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