Video games are not just child's play. Worldwide sales for the industry are expected to hit US$68.4 billion by the end of this year, and Malaysia is ready to become a serious player.
Recognising this, the government launched MyGameDev2020, an EPP initiative that aims to make Malaysia one of the region's leading video game creation centres. Under this initiative, the government formed the Game Development Cluster in partnership with the educational sector. Led by KDU University College, the cluster strives to produce top-calibre video game creators.
Though not as well-known in the industry as its other Asian counterparts, Malaysia has been actively involved in video game development since the early 1990s. The artwork of many popular titles, such as Operation Flashpoint 2, F1 2012 and Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing was done in Malaysia.
A pioneer in private tertiary education since 1983, KDU teamed up with Britain's Codemasters Studios to develop the Bachelor of Game Development programme. The programme aims to produce 500 highly skilled game developers by 2020.
"This is the minimum number of skilled and talented individuals that will achieve critical mass," says Tan Chin Ike, academic department head of the KDU creative arts department, school of computing, communication and media studies. "This is the necessary scale for a region's key success factors such as incubation, knowledge transfer and industry sustainability."
Developed based on market research and industry feedback, the three-year programme offers game art, game design and game technology as areas of specialisation. Students will learn technical skills and develop the creativity they need for every stage of game creation.
KDU's facilities include a fully equipped Alienware Studio and learning centre using state-of-the-art software such as Unreal Development Kits, Microsoft XNA Game Studio, 3D Studio Max and Z-Brush.
Providing students with more learning opportunities in the entertainment industry, KDU also partnered with cruise and resort enterprise Genting Hong Kong to create an internship programme. The programme enables undergraduate students to undergo an eight-week immersion at a major leisure or entertainment business.
"With gaming being a multimillion-dollar industry, we believe that there is great potential for individuals to have exciting and prosperous careers in this field," Tan says.