No matter how whimsical their characters are programmed to look, local computer game developers are setting their sights on the international market and proving a career in their field is far from child’s play.
Some of the nation’s top developers met on Saturday during the Game Developer Gathering at the Multimedia State University in Tangerang. And while the conference may have lacked the vibrant devotion typical at cosplay or anime conventions — it seemed only two people dressed up in computer game character gear — it had an air of something brewing.
In the convention hall, gaming fans and developers crowded around demonstration tables to catch a glimpse of the latest creations. The walls were decorated with posters and banners advertising different games, while the packed media area promised mainstream coverage.
“It’s almost shocking to see the talent here,” said Budi Khunda, a gaming enthusiast on his first trip to a local gaming convention. “I don’t think most Indonesians know that games of this quality are being made here. I certainly didn’t.”
Some developers also displayed non-computer games, showing a close relation between modern gaming and classic forbearers such as Dungeons & Dragons, whose tactical play has influenced today’s computer role-playing games.
The conference featured a mix of games, from role-playing and action-adventure to those reminiscent of simpler Flash games, such as the Angry Birds franchise, that can be played on smartphones and iPads.
For the most part, the games drew inspiration from American and Japanese games, with gory fantasy titles such as “Days 2 Die,” “Crimson Hell” and “Luminant Phantasia.”
Among the companies taking part were Agate Studio, Chowdown Games, Joyverter and Toge Productions. Many of them were founded by old friends who shared lifelong passions for gaming and little, if any, aspiration for commercial success. The company founders at the conference said while their field was still developing, they saw potential on the horizon and were looking to expand their enterprises.
“Events like this act as a connecting door between our local gaming industry and its international counterparts,” said Ronald Widjaja, a representative from the Joyverter Entertainment team who was at the event to promote the team’s latest game, a fantasy adventure called “Faunia Rancher.”
While the games were mostly basic, it seemed many could soon rival some of the world’s best-selling games because local developers are moving away from entry-level, Flash-based games. Instead, they are turning to engines, such as the Unity and Unreal engines, that have been used to create games for Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation.
Local gaming conventions, Ronald said, would one day give their international counterparts a run for their money.
“These kinds of events are opportunities for us, developers, to become gaming evangelists,” he said. “We can spread the word of local gaming to the mainstream, in particular to students as potential developers, to let them know the industry is a promising one.”
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