Siddharth Shankar – While there is a lot of movement in the Indian Gaming Sector, with multiple startups and companies pushing gaming. However, there is no AAA title from India. What do you think is the reason behind this?
We have lots of Indians who are great at creating AAA assets and working on big-time AAA games. So, when we talk about game production, Indians are already working on game production. They’re working on some of the biggest replay titles, and some of the best cars that you see on GTA have all been made by the Indians in Bangalore. So, that is the reality and there is Technicolor Games, and there’s Rockstar. If you look at every place, there’s some gaming studio but the only kind of games we as Indians have been making are cheap mobile games largely.
And I think it’s just that it has to go through the same loop that films went through before they started making the big blockbuster films with VFX. So, often the amount of money that goes into a AAA game is like $20 to $50 million. And I think the problem in India is nobody knows how they’ll recover the money.
So, it is not a question of whether Indians can’t develop it, it’s the financial impetus for them to develop that game.
Siddharth Shankar – Youngest population, high penetration of mobile phones and one of the cheapest countries for mobile data, India has the core things in place, what do you think is required for the push?
C B Arun Kumar – Yes, that is why training is going to be very important. Once people get the training, the next generation of people will grow into it. And I think within five years you will see us take major speed in this direction provided we don’t mess up our training agendas and all of us are very keen to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Gaming was a dirty word for parents earlier. However, it is not like that anymore.
At EDGE, for example, we’ve seen that 70% of the students who joined are doing gaming-related courses compared to earlier. It used to be animation, VFX, art and then gaming. However, we noticed that this trend reversing.
And then in a couple of years, you will see the result of the same. I think the pandemic has been very instrumental in making people realize that this is a big business, and the parents are also happy to let their kids pursue gaming and have realized the scope and prospects of gaming.
So, once really smart kids are not pushed off to do engineering and then after 4-5 years, they come back to pursue gaming. In fact, you will realize a lot of the people who are working in the gaming industry are probably IIT graduates, and BITS graduates who have actually done four or five years of engineering and then decided to move on to gaming. However, if they can short circuit that and move into gaming straight from school, which is the kind of thing we are looking at, it’s going to create a huge change. But we must again think that there are two aspects to it. One is game production, and the other is game design and development.
So, somebody must come up with the idea of fantastic games.
Siddharth Shankar – How much time will it take to develop games in India? Like VFX, India has accelerated its presence in VFX.
C B Arun Kumar – It’s an interesting question. I suspect it to happen in the next five years. Nobody thought visual effects films will become this big. See, I’ve been working in this industry for quite some time, and I have seen how people earlier used to struggle. You put in a lot of good hard work, and it’s not really appreciated by the public. However, today we have reached a point where the Indian public wants to see these visual effects films.
So, the same thing has to happen with gaming and my general feeling is that it’s going to take about five years, not more than 10 years. In five years, you will start seeing some breakthroughs and you will start seeing it not in the traditional space, but in the online gaming space, which may not be even regular online, but something like Metaverse because these are technologies on which India is really heavily betting.
Siddharth Shankar – What are your thoughts on the metaverse? And how are you as an educator preparing for it?
C B Arun Kumar – You know the Metaverse is another thing that’s absolutely going to happen. So, the first step we are doing is like we are offering courses which will help in training kids. We have a metaverse course and a game design course, for example. So, what is game design and what is the Metaverse design? If you actually create Fortnite or PUBG, you are creating one form of the metaverse, isn’t it? Whether you see Roblox or whether you see, you know Sandberg, metaverse today is most effective as a game. Minecraft is also there.
It is much less so than what Facebook is seeing; it is going to take time. So, this is what we are basically planning to train people for. So, train them first to understand and master how to create metaverse within games. The next step is a social media metaverse; it’s going to happen, but the technologies are not quite right. It’s like somebody saying in 1990 you know the Internet will rule the world and. We see a lot of revolutions happen suddenly. One such revolution that happened is the one where we moved from film to digital, isn’t it? Overnight, you realize movies are not being made in film anymore. They’ve been completely shifted to digital. So, what I’m saying is that we have to have a like multi-prong strategy to it. Our way of looking at it is, AVGC is the core but the G part of it is gaming, which is our main focus.
The Metaverse not going to percolate from the bottom up, it’s percolating from top to bottom. It’ll start taking the spaces where people are. From flying an airplane, doing heart surgery, learning a very important machine nuclear reactor, physics stuff like that to marketing to industry, you know, industrial product design and it’ll then come down to gaming in the Metaverse.
Siddharth Shankar – For someone interested in getting into
C B Arun Kumar – In India, before we came into the picture, there were a lot of generic animation visual effects courses and there were a few gaming courses and these were hardcore gaming courses where they teach you C, C++ and stuff like that and also teach you a game engine or two like Unity, unreal, stuff like that.
We have the following courses
EDGE-TRAZOS INTERNATIONAL COURSES
- Master Certificate in Animation with Autodesk Maya
- Master Certificate in VFX Compositing with NukeX
- Master Certificate in VFX with Houdini
- Master Certificate in Videogame Production
EDGE PROFESSIONAL COURSES
- Master Certificate in
- Meta-Game Design
EDGE BOOTCAMP COURSES
- Computer Graphics Boot Camp
- Unreal Engine Boot Camp
- Motion Graphics Boot Camp
When we started EDGE, we had a slow rollout plan. We said we’ll start one centre, then we’ll see. In fact, now what’s happened is the responses are so excellent, we are starting in Delhi and Mumbai the next month. And what is leading this? You’ll be happy to know is the gaming demand.
We are opening about 15 centres in India. And also, I think moving to international centres like Singapore, London and Berlin, and Tel Aviv. Taking classes at global companies, so we are doing all that. It’s not just going to be an Indian thing.
Siddharth Shankar – With any course, any new course, there is always a risk of, not getting not too many students initially or the traction being a little less because there’s a lack of awareness. So now how is EDGE doing in this part of the field?
C B Arun Kumar – We started in Bangalore, and among our basket of products, we found all gaming-oriented products have ended with overwhelming responses. See there is a response to animation & visual effects which is great. But the response to gaming is simply overwhelming. That’s why we are like going to have three campuses this year and then the four campuses next year, and we are moving fast on it.
So, we have two broad course lineup, 1st is about training as a lot of people have already in my opinion trained in more traditional ways. EDGE is going to help them get all this new stuff in. You may have done some regular flash or 2D animations. You go to many colleges; they’ll teach obsolete technology to that student but the student has got a lot of artistic potential. He can come to do this course, which is a short nine-month course and get a job in the latest tech knowledge baked over his already years of artistic skills.
The second about creating a degree that is going to actually do the training from the ground up all the way, so that now you are training students to not just become artists and technicians. You’re training them to be designers, producers, and originators of content. In four to five years, you’ll have people who will be creating their own content of such extraordinary power that somebody or the other will give the seed finance and they’ll be able to create games. This is the way; we incubate students who want to create awesome games and stuff like that. That’s basically the idea that that’ll be the role of the regular course. Of course, we have other smaller courses for getting the workforce ready for the challenges that are coming up.
Siddharth Shankar – There is a big gaming industry in India that is also taking initial steps, how has the industry support been for these courses?
C B Arun Kumar – Yes, we have a lot of industry support. We’ve been talking to everybody. So, we are doing all the tie-ups, in fact, it’s like a small thing, they’re all friends, Technicolor is there Rockstar is there. We are also doing tie-ups with people, like Quidditch Innovation Labs, so these are people using Unreal Engine to do World Cup football and stuff like that, where they do layers of 3D on top of matches.
We’re also tying up with gaming and non-gaming users, broadcast users of this. We are looking at like all the channels like Voot, all who want training. We’re also looking at training their people so that they can be producers of content using Unreal Engine and Virtual Production. Our Bangalore center is an Unreal authorized training centre and we probably are going to have all three centres authorized by Unreal. To be authorized training centres, means our courses are all certified.
Siddharth Shankar – How are the placements for the students of these courses?
C B Arun Kumar – The problem is companies want the placements today. You know, the moment I say I’ve got this course. They said to give me the student. So now I’ve made some promises to people. Look, in three months when they finished this much, I’ll put them as an intern with you. The fact is that the industry needs skilled people, which is why we are setting up so fast and the market is exploding.
But since these skills is not being taught into the UGC kind of courses, we have a lot of pressure to give students to people or to produce the students and our course is nine months (duration).
In virtual production in gaming, the intake is growing, but it’s the other stuff broadcast, virtual production they are all desperate to get people. So that is the key USP, the unique selling point of this course. And I think that’s where all the job opportunities are, which are what I call the new uses of all these game engines.
Siddharth Shankar – How difficult is it to find the right type of faculty for these cutting-edge courses?
C B Arun Kumar – No. We first solve the faculty issues and see the most important thing is the faculty. And we have three Unreal authorized training partners. That’s what the Unreal authorized trainer is called. OK, so if you don’t have this training, people you don’t have authorized training centre, so the first thing is you get people who are good and get them to get their certification or you take people on who got this certification so they already know how to do this and they would rather teach them. Maybe, let’s say, work in the industry. So you know you have to find the right mentality. Some people love being heroes to students. You got some people who just love teaching. So you have to find them and then they’re very happy to do this. So we are really fortunate in that.