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Report: Argentina's EVA Shows South American Spark

Report: Argentina's EVA Shows South American Spark

November 9, 2007 | By Patrick Dugan

November 9, 2007 | By Patrick Dugan
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The game development industry of Argentina convened last weekend, the 3rd and 4th of November, for their fifth annual regional conference, the "Exposicion de Videojuegos Argentina" or EVA. Conference organizers estimate attendance exceeded 1000 people, made possible due to the non-profit function's open-door policy.

The event took place in the Teatro de la Sociedad Hebraica, near downtown Buenos Aires, with sponsors including Intel, GameLoft, local educational and media institutions, and with the premier studios in the nation showing off their products.

Three Melons demonstrated their adver-game portfolio as well as their new Tennis game made in the Unity engine; NGD Studios, creator of Regnum and Argentum Online, the first MMOs to come out of Argentina, also demonstrated, showing off their high-quality mobile games coming from the Global Fun brand.

Also presenting were Sabarasa, who showcased their soon-to-be-released DS game Mazes Of Fate and detailed their upcoming projects for WiiWare, the DS and PC; and QB9, who demonstrated their casual downloadable games published with Mumbo Jumbo.

Argentina's economy has enjoyed epic growth rates since recovering from the 2001 economic crash, averaging about 7% per annum over the past five years. When banks began to default and the currency devalued almost 70% overnight, a handful of pioneers reacted to the meltdown of society with the realization that they had an unprecedented business opportunity.

These people were Santiago Siri, Daniel Benmergui, Andres Chilkowski, and Javier Otaegui, who founded the ADVA (Asociacion de Desarrolladors de Videojuegos Argentina) in the year 2000 and organized the first EVA in 2003.

Currently, Siri is the Creative Director of a VC-funded web technology start-up, Benmergui is the Technical Director at GameLoft Buenos Aires, one of GameLoft's top 3 studios worldwide, Chilkowski runs NGD Studios, which has recently become profitable, and Otaegui runs Sabarasa, the only licensed Wii developer in the country.

In the past year, the Argentine game industry has seen growth rates comparable to Austin and close to Montreal. In 2006, there were about 250 working game developers in Argentina, the majority working at GameLoft, now there are over 500 distributed through 10 consolidated companies and an additional 25 start-ups.

Only about a third of that growth can be attributed to GameLoft expanding and creating an additional studio in Cordoba, the remainder demonstrates a vast diversification. There are companies doing console games, high-end PC games, serious games, web-games, casual games; companies devoted to art outsourcing and developing middle-ware. Including the student and amateur population, the community is well over 1000 people.

The conference's content covered the gamut, from Sony representatives describing PS2, PSN and PSP development prospects, to Benmergui describing a radical revision of generic game design and citing examples like Braid.

On Sunday night the Co.De.Ar awards were presented to independent efforts that demonstrated excellent technical polish and design innovation, with the first prize going to Beat Noxius by Canerva Games. Finalist titles can be found here: http://adva.com.ar/codear/participantes/

The conference ended with Siri, Benmergui, Chilkowski and Ortaegui responding to the one-word prompts like "Argentina", "Mercados" and "Futuro" with their thoughts.

The overall consensus was the the stigma of Argentina's past has slowed the industry's investment growth, but that stigma is now being overcome by a growing portfolio of competitive games. Their outlook on the future is bright, and the prospect of the industry again doubling in size by EVA 2008 seems strong indeed.


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