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Q&A: Singapore's Government On Encouraging Game Industry Growth

Q&A: Singapore's Government On Encouraging Game Industry Growth

July 16, 2010 | By Christian Nutt

Companies have been opening studios in Asia -- to both take advantage of local talent and as a means of saving cost -- for some time now. Of course, Shanghai, China is most famous for hosting international companies. However, Singapore hopes to attract foreign businesses too.

Ubisoft and LucasArts have both opened studios in the region, and MIT has opened the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab to educate the local population in preparation for industry jobs. And the government is in on the act, too -- with Contact Singapore, an agency designed to recruit industries, including the game industry, to the country.

To find out more, Gamasutra recently spoke to Siew Kiang Ng, executive director, Contact Singapore, about their program.

Can you explain what your organization does?

Siew Kiang Ng: Contact Singapore is a government agency that aims to attract global talent to work, invest and live in Singapore. We are a one-stop center for those who wish to pursue a rewarding career in Singapore, as well as individuals and entrepreneurs who are keen to invest in or initiate new business activities here.

We also actively link Singapore-based employers with global talent and provide updates on career opportunities and industry developments in Singapore. Contact Singapore is an alliance of the Singapore Economic Development Board and Ministry of Manpower.

Why is the game industry important to Singapore?

SKN: The Singapore government has identified the Interactive & Digital Media (IDM) industry as a key growth industry. The game industry is one of the key IDM sectors that we are seeking to grow, as we work towards our aim of becoming an Asian IDM capital from which original content is created for global consumption.

What place do experienced developers from outside the country have in Singapore?

SKN: Experienced developers are important to Singapores aim to develop itself into Asias creative capital. As we develop our IDM industry through attracting top-tier IDM companies, and investing in leading technology R&D activities, we also need to develop our talent base. Hence, we aim to foster a vibrant, creative environment in which IDM talent can meet and exchange ideas, and generate even more creative works out of Singapore. Experienced developers have an important role to play in sharing their expertise and acting as mentors to younger talent.

Major companies like Ubisoft and LucasArts have Singapore studios. Is it just about big companies, or are there smaller ones too? What about home-grown developers?

SKN: The aim is to build an entire ecosystem comprising not just major companies, but also home-grown ones. Besides major companies like Electronic Arts, LucasArts, Ubisoft, Tecmo Koei and IGG, there are many other companies (both overseas and homegrown) that have set up development studios in Singapore. These include Rainbow S.p.A, Softworld (Zealot) Mikoishi, Matchmove Games and Ratloop Asia.

Apart from game developers, there is a strong ecosystem of games service providers, such as online game publishers/operators such as IAHGames, Asiasoft, Garena; payment service providers such as Cherry Credits, MOL and Paypal.

In addition, Ratloop Asias Rocketbirds Revolution, which was developed in Singapore, received three nominations for the 2010 Independent Games Festival including the coveted Seumas McNally Grand Prize, Excellence in Visual Art, and Excellence in Audio.

Can you talk about your plans for education? How do you work with schools?

SKN: Nurturing IDM talent through education is one of the key cornerstones of Singapores strategy to grow its IDM industry. We are doing this through attracting international specialty schools to Singapore, such as the New York University Tisch School of the Arts Asia, and Digipen Institute of Technology. We support local schools which specialize in enhancing the skills of existing industry professionals, such as 3dSense Media School, CG Protege and Egg Story Digital Arts. We also work with Singaporean tertiary institutions to ensure their curriculum remains relevant.

What's the ultimate goal for the game industry in Singapore?

SKN: We want Singapore to become an IDM capital, in which original content meant for the global market is generated in Singapore. We want to position Singapore as the regional games hub for the development and distribution of online and mobile games harnessing on emerging technology.

How does the country feel about the content of games? -- Singapore has a conservative image internationally, but game content can be quite provocative.

SKN: Singapore is an extremely well-connected nation -- we have the second highest internet penetration in Asia-Pacific. Gaming is fast increasing in popularity among young Singaporeans as well. Singapores Media Development Authority has a video games classification system in place to help young gamers and their parents determine suitable games to play. We see value in creating games in Singapore which are for the international market, but with a unique feel, achievable through Singapores location in the centre of Asia and multicultural population.

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