Level Up KL 2019 aims to level up

  • Level Up KL Play to feature local and international game demos
  • From a Southeast Asia regional conference, target now is to be regional event

(L to R): Magnus Studios co-founder DC Gan, MDEC Digital Creative Content VP Hasnul Hadi Samsudin and Kaigan Games CEO Shahrizar Roslan

Now in its fifth instalment, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) organized gaming ecosystem conference and expo, Level Up KL 2019, will be taking place from 2 – 10 November 2019 at various locations around Kuala Lumpur. The premier event brings together developers, corporates, gamers and eSports communities.

To use a video game parlance, the event has also levelled up. What used to be centred around developers and companies, Level Up KL this year will feature two days that are open to the public, allowing gamers in the country to not only have the opportunity to try the games Malaysia and Southeast Asia has to offer, but to learn more about the industry.

“In 2019, we strengthened our efforts to position Malaysia as a regional powerhouse for the games industry through the introduction of the Digital Content Ecosystem (DICE) strategy. LEVEL UP KL 2019 is another effort that validates Malaysia as the preferred destination for the regional game development ecosystem,” says MDEC Digital Creative Content vice president Hasnul Hadi Samsudin.

“It is the ‘Not-to-be-missed Event for 2019’ as it will be packed with so many exciting announcements and new content from both globally-recognised Malaysian studios and world-renowned companies!” Hasnul enthused.

Level Up KL 2019 aims to level up

Business and play

The week-long event will be split to two parts: Level Up Biz, which is to cater to the games development industry, and Level Up Play, which is for the general public.

The former will be held at Bangsar South from 2 – 8 November, and functions closely to how Level Up KL has traditionally been. The event will be bringing regional game developers and industry leaders together to interact, learn and share.

At the same time, Level Up KL Biz will also serve as a platform for key announcements from local and international game developers, as well as expert-led workshops, talks and business connections. As with the previous years, Level Up KL 2019 will also play host to the SEA Games Awards, now in its third year.

Level Up KL Play, on the other hand, will be held on November 9 and 10 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC). Here, visitors will be able to try out game demos of soon-to-launch AAA titles as well as indie titles developed within the region.

The event will also serve as the grand finals for multiple eSports leagues, with the end of day one capped off with a video game concert. Tickets to Level Up KL Play can be purchased online or onsite during both days. There is currently an early bird promotion. More information here.

The right time

When asked why it took five years for Level Up KL to finally open to the public, Hasnul says: “It’s not really for us (MDEC) to decide, but it’s what the industry wants.”

One of the primary reasons Level Up KL Play is conceived is to allow Malaysians to be exposed and experience locally-produced games.

“We saw that our games were gaining traction globally. Our game developers are going to places like the PAX festivals, the Tokyo Game Show and Taipei Game Show to showcase their games… yet none of Malaysians actually get the opportunity to play them,” he tells Digital News Asia. “These demos are being played elsewhere, and at best, Malaysians just get to hear about it.”

In a way, being able to have a public event is serendipitous. Hasnul says that, last year, they were given an opportunity by the Ministry of Finance to look into the development of eSports. With Level Up KL being a regular event, they decided that the event can be used as a platform to expand how MDEC and the local games development industry can engage the general public.

“It’s all about engaging the general public. It’s how we get the general public to be excited about gaming culture, and also in legitimising that culture in the context of the games development industry,” Hasnul adds.

Additionally, Hasnul says that the country now also has enough content to showcase. “Games like Re:Legend (by Magnus Games), No Straight Roads (by Metronomik) and Simulacra (by Kaigan Games) are content we are very proud of, and we need to give them an opportunity to showcase themselves to the general public.”

A regional event

Ultimately, Hasnul hopes that Level Up KL can be an annual regional games event the likes of prestigious game shows like Gamescom and Tokyo Game Show. “We’ve always built Level Up KL as a Southeast Asia regional conference. Now we want it to be a regional event,” he says.

At the rate Level Up KL is gaining prominence, perhaps this future isn’t too far off. This year alone, Hasnul says that they have 25 game developers from Singapore attending.

Not only that, these developers are also visiting Malaysian universities and companies to show how they can collaborate together before showcasing their work at Level Up KL. There will be groups from Indonesia and the Philippines doing the same.

In time, he hopes that Level Up KL can attract big and even more renowned game developers to come and talk, perhaps even announce the launch of a new game. “This is what we want… so that we can legitimise the game industry, not just among the general public but from the development side ad well,” he concludes.

 

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