Teaching the next game-changers at Game On! Philippines 2012

The next genre-altering may very well come from Game On! Philippines 2012

FIRST CLASS. Game developers and students converge for the first event of Game On! Philippines 2012.

MANILA, Philippines – My earliest memory of playing an authentically Philippine video game was sitting in a kiosk in my university to play Anito: Defend a Land Enraged.

Anito was a role-playing game and in it, you experienced life as the son or daughter of a diplomatic tribal clansman in a fictional version of the Philippines. You’re tasked with searching for your father while fighting beasts, armored invaders, and other tribal clans and generally developing your capabilities as a fighter.

While the game wasn’t exactly critically acclaimed, it did win an award during the 2004 Independent Games Festival for Innovation in Audio. It also made me dream of tribal warrior tattoos and swords for a week.

GOING MOBILE. KLab Cyscorpions smiling for the camera.

Since then, I’ve been waiting for the next big thing in Philippine game development.

Right now, as a nation of creative game makers, we’re working on hitting it big in web-based video games and games for mobile devices. I’m hoping the future game-changers, those who will eventually develop an epic game for multiple platforms, will make themselves known with a little help from Game On! Philippines 2012.

I attended the kick-off event for this game development conference-slash-contest on Saturday, November 10, at the Alumni Engineers Centennial Hall (AECH) of the University of the Philippines. Game On! 2012 featured a number of game development sponsors, such as Indigo Entertainment, KLab Cyscorpions, and Anino Games, the folks behind Anito.

For this month-long competition, these students would get lessons in game design and development from some of these members of the Philippine professional game development community.

 EASYGOING. Students mentally preparing for the start of the ceremonies.

The competition itself featured two sets of classes, falling under the Open Class and Master Class categories. In the Open Class, student teams are partnered with mentors who will help them develop a game using the game language of their choice. Master Class teams were tasked with developing a game following a set theme and with far less assistance from the pros.

In addition to glory and a P30,000-cash prize for the winners, those with well-designed games may earn the interest of the game development firms themselves. As Ma Jovelian Ancheta, HR Associate for KLab Cyscorpions explained, part of the reason for sponsoring the event was to reach out to students and introduce them to game development.

 INDIGO. Mark Cabrera of Indigo Entertainment was the first teacher in this series of game development events.

Mark Cabrera, Senior Game Developer for Indigo Entertainment also seems to agree. Cabrera mentioned that video game development was a multi-billion dollar industry (US$62 billion in 2012 according to Forbes). These students have an “opportunity to contribute and establish an industry,” he noted, and while there are a lot of game development competitions, it’s rare to have one with a focus on learning about the industry and showing people the ropes.

Of course, the students also have dreams they want to fulfill, and I got the chance to talk to one hopeful before the event started. Juan Karlo Licudime, a solo entrant to Game On!, decided to take a chance when he saw an advertisement for the contest. His application accepted, he wants to take this opportunity to gain formal experience in game development and work towards creating his own spin on the survival horror genre, one that focuses on the survival element to augment the horror aspect.

Perhaps the most important thing about this series of training sessions is that regardless of who takes the grand prize, each player in this contest game of game development has already won.

Each new lesson learned brings these aspiring game developers closer to the dream of releasing a game, and each game made improves their skills and brings the Philippines closer to earning its way as a breeding ground for professional game development.

While I’ll be watching, and hopefully playing, some of the games come the finals on December 7, the real draw to me is the potential for one of these aspirants to fulfill the ideal: the creation a blockbuster Philippine-made video game that the world will love and Filipinos will be proud to call their own. I won’t mind waiting a few years more. – Rappler.com

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