India has millions of active gamers but not many skilled game designers; game art and design education can help fill this void
With an estimated 365 million active online gamers in 2020, India is one of the fastest developing markets in the global gaming industry. With more than half of its 1.38 billion-strong population being under the age of 50, the meteoric rise of gaming isn’t a surprise.
Fuelling the gaming industry is also India’s strong inclination towards IT solutions; programmers and coders form the core base of the gaming business in India. However, despite India’s IT prowess, studios continue to import their lead artists, art directors, and creative directors from abroad. This is because gaming studio behemoths have realised that in order to achieve commercial and financial success, games need to be richly immersive visual experiences. And for such kinds of games to be created, there is an undeniable need for skilled game design professionals. Unfortunately, since the gaming industry is relatively nascent in India, there aren’t many educational institutions that have full-fledged programs that cultivate such professionals.
The question that thus crops up is how can India train talent that is comparable to its international counterparts in the gaming industry?
The answer veers towards spending time, resources, and money towards setting up top-notch institutions that can impart a holistic game art and design education. Study programmes that don’t only focus on the technical aspect of gaming, but the visual and creative elements in it are a need of the hour. Typically, students are taught all the basic software techniques, but in today’s competitive gaming industry, this is simply not enough.
Educators have to work towards training students who can solve problems creatively in order to build unique gaming experiences. This involves understanding the fine mechanics of a game that can keep a player engaged and also suspended in a zone between boredom and frustration. It also involves providing a foundation in solid art direction skills so as to take aesthetic decisions and create a visually appealing story. Students who do get access to this kind of proper training are looking at stellar opportunities in the job market, partly because of the jarring gap between supply and demand in the creative sector in the Indian gaming sector.
Following are the roles and areas in gaming that hold the potential for high-value employment and that students can explore for future careers.
Video Game Designing: This area requires creative expertise and individuals who can think of original game ideas. Video game designers are involved in making blueprint plans for games and its characters and they consider every detail that goes into the making of parallel creative universes that are video games! Right from being involved in making storyboards to being the lead on the UX design of a game, designers are at the heart of producing any new product. They can also specialise in becoming a Level Designer.
Level Designers are responsible for creating enthralling new chapters in a game universe that can encourage users to move to the next level. A level designer’s skills traverse the areas of game-oriented storytelling and imagination. One of the prime responsibilities of a level designer is to create a plethora of design documents that essentially detail the list of required assets and objectives, and environment layouts.
Game Art Designing: This is where stories and concepts are transformed into visuals. From concept artists who sketch the worlds, characters, vehicles, and props imagined by game designers, to VFX artists and animators, this team is responsible for anything and everything that is visible in video games.
Game Environment Artists: These artists are responsible for creating entire worlds within worlds and the success of a game often depends on how engaging its environment is. Game environment artists usually function armed with Photoshop expertise and in-depth knowledge about modelling packages such as 3ds Max, Maya, or Modo. Game environment artists work on creating the tiniest of details such as the leaves on a tree or pieces of architecture and then immerse themselves in building the wider game universe. Solid technical know-how along with the ability to showcase appealing lighting, texture, composition, colouring, and much more make for great game environment artists.
India’s gaming industry is at a crucial juncture, with millions of young enthusiasts at its disposal and a significant boom in gaming thanks to pandemic-induced lockdowns, the future for game designers is indeed bright. All that is needed is the right starting point for students who are passionate and are in need of the correct education.
The author Mr. Yan Garin is the country head at Ecole Intuit Lab.
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