Level Up KL 2016: A showcase of Malaysian gaming talent

  • Over 40 key players and 500 attendees from the games industry
  • Warning to focus on the business instead of art or technology
Level Up KL 2016: A showcase of Malaysian gaming talent


IT does not have the aura and grandeur of its elder sibling, GDC in San Francisco. But Level Up KL 2016 is not short on substance and opportunities. Hosted by the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) in Kuala Lumpur, it is running from 5th to 9th November.
Now in its second year, the conference features business perspectives, technical insights and sharing of future-shaping trends via keynotes and panel discussions. The conference is part of the ongoing efforts led by MDEC to build a world class gaming ecosystem in Malaysia, with the vision to transform the country as a game hub by 2025.
The five-day event has attracted over 500 participants ranging from game developers, investors, game publishers and technology providers from both local and international games industry. Over 40 key industry players worldwide took part in sharing of knowledge. These included Hector Fernandez of Sony Interactive Entertainment, Kadri Ugand, co-founder of the game accelerator, GameFounders, Square Enix Lead Game Designer for Final Fantasy XV, Wan Hazmer, Lemon Sky Games and Animation CEO, Wong Cheng-Fei and Passion Republic president Ng Aik Sern.


Level Up KL 2016: A showcase of Malaysian gaming talent
"The next ‘Industrial Revolution’ will be digital, and it is no coincidence that Malaysia has placed a strong emphasis on transforming the nation, driven by the digital economy. With Level Up KL 2016, we are bringing together experts, mentors, investors and like-minded people from the gaming and creative industry to spur conversation and knowledge-sharing that would put us on the right path to building a world-class gaming ecosystem in Malaysia," said Yasmin Mahmood, Chief Executive Officer, MDEC.

Hasnul Hadi Samsudin, Director of Creative Content and Technologies Division at MDEC added, "This year, we expanded Level Up KL from a two-day conference to a five-day convention to focus on serious industry players who want to level up in the games industry, by offering more activities, exhibitions, as well as knowledge-sharing and networking opportunities." 

Level Up KL 2016: A showcase of Malaysian gaming talent
But Alexander Fernandez, CEO of Streamline Studios, sounded a note of caution amidst the exuberance. In his keynote address, Fernandez reminded attendees that it is critically important to focus first on growing your business first instead of art or engineering. While Malaysia has excellent games production talent, he said there is also a lack of experience. This means that companies need to make a significant investment in training personnel to bring them up to global standards.

Fernandez was very bullish on the future prospects of the gaming ecosystem in the region. He based his argument on a few facts such as Southeast Asia's (SEA) population (over 600 million), and the fact that half of that population is less than 30 years old.

The event kicked off during the weekend with the SEA Game Jam, a 36-hour game jam organised by MDEC and partner Media Prima Labs. During the game jam, game developers worked together to create games in a collaborative environment based on the theme, ‘kid-centric’ - aimed at children aged 12 and below.
A total of 17 teams, comprising of 82 participants took part for the chance to bring home cash prizes, a brand new Oculus Gear VR and the opportunity to have their games commercialised via the upcoming Alpha Startups: Game Pre-Accelerator programme by Media Prima Labs and 1337 Ventures.
The week started with 37 participants taking part in the Unity Certified Developer Exam. Overseen by game engine developer, Unity 3D, this is meant to validate user’s knowledge of programming skills for game production. The certification is useful for those seeking a job in the games industry.
“We have always pushed for the growth of our gaming-related industries and I dare say we have showcased our strong capacity and capabilities to develop high-quality games, locally and internationally over the recent years. Through this, we are seeing tremendous growth today with the gaming market here expected to grow 20% to RM868.70 million by the year 2017, and the region itself to grow 30% by 2018 - the fastest growth of any geographical region. As our industry matures through experiences and learning, the local ecosystem will continue to improve and put us on the path to becoming the game hub for the region.” added Yasmin Yasmin also pointed out MDEC's success in bringing global companies to Malaysia including Gamefounders and Bandai Namco.

Related Stories:
GE inks MoU with MDEC to launch Malaysia’s digital industry globally

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Slow Internet speeds damping Malaysia’s digital economy aspirations: MDEC CEO
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