The gaming industry, which took the world by storm in the early seventies, came into prominence in India only in the eighties. We by passed the evolution phase of the seventies completely. Hence, we lack the expertise that comes with being part of this crucial stage. Here, the gaming scene took off in the eighties in the cubicles of IT companies. Employees would go online to play a game or two during their breaks and before we knew it, the games were a rage. Thus, the technology behind gaming started getting monetized in India only with the IT boom and the rise of business process outsourcing process companies (BPOs). While fact remains that the industry is still in its nascent stage, it is doing extremely well in terms of retail, yet there is a major dearth of quality original content. This dearth persists thanks to the popular notion that gaming is primarily meant for kids.
The gaming industry in India is expected to touch $800 million by 2012 while the worldwide market is expected to reach $53 billion the same year. Already, a number of international gaming studios have set up development studios in India – EU Soft, Microsoft and Electronic Arts (EA), to name a few, Hanuman, for instance, is a new game developed in India, for Play station 2 (PS2) by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe and is the first PS2 game developed entirely by an Indian studio with localized content.
However, the industry has its share of problems that pose a threat to its development in the country. There is a shortage of technically sound people and one of the reasons is the absence of dedicated institutes or colleges offering degree courses in aspects of gaming technologies. This brings us to another issue the absence of research and development (R&D) wings in game studios in the country. Consequently, very few new games are being developed in India, as compared to the US and Europe. Instead, a majority of the studios merely localize the content of games produced elsewhere. Most of our employees are engineering graduates and since there are very few training centers, most graduates end up pursuing a degree abroad and working at gaming studios in Europe, Japan or the US. Having said that, fact is things are gradually changing. There is a considerable increase in the number of hardcore gamers, which is a good sign as it will also encourage more game development.
Another major concern among experts is the lack of games being developed from hardcore gamers. Games such as Hanuman are few and far in between. Most game developers here create quick casual games – mobile games, games for iphones and short flash games. While there is a thriving market for casual games, unfortunately no games are developed for the hardcore heavy duty gamer who wants to participate in the World Cyber Games Championships for instance. That’s the, market that needs to be harnessed and this is possible only with the expertise of professional game developers.
In spite of the problems it faces, the gaming industry is slowly picking up in India and offers a plethora of options to choose of. One could pursue a career as a game program level designer, game art and game tester in the console, mobile and online sectors. In most cases, freshers are absorbed as trainers for a period of three months. Therefore there is plenty of scope for growth, in terms of promotion and perks. The minimum starting pay package ranges between Rs10,000 to Rs 25,000 per month.
Although there are quite a few training institutes that offer programs in gaming technology and animation, not too many colleges offer full fledged course in gaming technology. Mumbai based studio trains students at the international Institute of Gaming and Animation. We have a lot of students who are interested in animation and gaming but there aren’t too many people who are adept at teaching. Most of the trainees are engineering graduates who want to get into graphic designing and animation. Gaming is a niche field that is extremely challenging and requires a lot of creativity. Gaming is different from animation and 3D design – its combination of art and technology. If the placements and recruitment patterns here are any indication, there is a tremendous scope for a .career in gaming in India. Right now, the US and UK are thriving centers for careers in gaming but we have the expertise here too. With awareness and training, it is only a matter of time that India will emerge as a big industry for gaming.