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It may not be common knowledge, but gaming is a booming industry in the Philippines. And when you talk about gaming, it’s not just about the players who participate in international, multi-million-prize eSports tournaments. Gaming is also about the development of these games, whether they are played on consoles, desktop computers, or mobile phones.
Indeed, Filipinos are not just adept at playing computer games — they’re also great at developing them. From 2003 PC game Anito developed by Anino Games (now Anino Playlab) to the mobile game Catch the Guava by 88GamePub (which gained over 100,000 on Google Play just one month after release), the Philippine game development community has not just expanded its numbers but also its horizons.
This community is what the Game Developers Association of the Philippines or GDAP wants to promote and nurture.
Established in 2007, GDAP is a trade association geared toward representing and promoting the country’s thriving game development industry. The Philippines may be a minor player in the international game development scene, with only a 0.02 percent share in a $90 billion global industry, but looking at it from a local perspective, it’s a lucrative sector that raked in some $70 million just some 5 years ago, with a total workforce of about 3,000 professionals. And considering that game development industry in the Philippines is relatively young, there is no way to go but up and forward.
GDAP aims to cultivate a vibrant, dynamic, and profitable Filipino game development industry that not only contributes to the growth and economic interests of the country, but also encourages the development of both individuals and organizations involved in game development.
Guided by its core values — responsible leadership, excellence and quality, and integrity and honesty — GDAP is committed to the development of the Philippine game development industry by supporting not just game developers but also the gamers who patronize their products.
Developing the Game Development Scene
There are various aspects involved in developing a game. These include game design, which is primarily the basic concept of the elements of a game and how it is going to be played; game writing, which involves the story, character dialogues, and character backstories, among others; level editing, which involves the creation of specific segments of a game (mini games and bonus stages, for example, may have a different designer and editor from the main game); audio engineering, which includes music, sound effects, and dubbing; animation; technical art and game art design; programming; quality testing; localization or translation (if necessary); and production.
All of these facets of game development are included in GDAP’s array of services, offered through its member companies, which help these entities expand their client base and, in turn, earn more. At the same time, GDAP also aims to hone the skills needed in these various dimensions of game development by hosting annual conferences and workshops and other learning opportunities, both locally and abroad.
Moreover, the multiple aspects involved in game development means that, while computer science and programming graduates are among the most likely to land a job in the game development industry, there are numerous opportunities in the game development industry for people who come from other backgrounds. These include creative writing, graphic design, and even marketing.
GDAP also understands the importance of government support for the continued growth of the local industry. This is why the association is also pushing for government initiatives that will give all parties involved equal opportunities and wider access to resources to continuously hone their craft. In fact, in 2014, GDAP representatives flew to California not just to attend various gaming industry events and catch up on the latest trends, but also to meet with the Philippine Consulate General and the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Silicon Valley. Their discussions included prevailing (and successful) business models used by game studios in the Philippines, the current needs in terms of government support, as well as possible strategies to promote Filipino games and developers in future conventions.
The Future Looks Bright
Currently, there are only a handful of schools in the country that offer four-year courses dedicated to game design and development, among them De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde and iACADEMY. However, GDAP is hopeful that more schools will soon follow, especially with the recent surge in technological developments and interest in games and game development in general.
In recent years, GDAP’s focus has been to promote the Philippines not just as an outsourcing destination for game development needs but also as a hub of innovators. Beyond continuously pushing for the creation of original content, GDAP also wants to create a level playing field so that more startups would take the plunge and develop their own content.
This is why, apart from conducting discussions with relevant government agencies, GDAP is also teaming up with various companies and events to expand their reach. Among the group’s most recent collaborations is with the Electronic Sports and Gaming Summit (ESGS), one of the biggest gaming events in the Philippines and Southeast Asia. With different speakers and exhibitors from various companies, including Ubisoft, Unity 3D, Altitude Games, and Squeaky Wheel Studios, Playstation, Bandai, and Namco, and participation from tech and gaming brands like Wacom, Redfox, Synergy88, Kooapps, Top Draw Animation, and Stream Engine, GDAP, through ESGS, continues to work on promoting the craft and the industry among developers and gamers alike.
GDAP knows that there is no shortage of talent in the Philippines when it comes to game development; with a little support from relevant agencies, even the simplest game idea can become a big hit. This is what GDAP hopes for — more original concepts turned into full-fledged games, produced locally, and patronized globally.