Within the programming circles, I take a great many roles.
From my part as an adjunct at the Bialystok University of Technology, I widen my net and work within the programming community across the country. Proudly one of my roles is as co-organiser of BialJam, a gamers’ hackathon, or Game Jam held annually.
Many of us out in the world don’t have a clue about gaming, and that’s understandable. Video games, computer games, or electronic games – call them what you will. They’re a very serious business!
The only thing we see is its final product as a form of entertainment for the many, and part of an industry worth billions of dollars. I can argue that there’s a ‘gamer’ in all of us – from early adopter owners of new PlayStation consoles, to ‘free time’ PC gamers, or even to those casually indulging via their smartphone – there’s no denying that games surround our lives.
Now it’s time to learn from where it comes.
In my special article, I’d like to discuss the game development industry, and why it matters more than ever. I’ll outline the development processes, take you through some of the facts, dispel the myths, and surprise you with the notion that a strong game creation industry is evidence of a strong programming and IT sector.
In other words, where there are great game developers, there’s a great value to you and your IT prospects.
The Minds Behind The Magic
‘Game Jams’ such as BialJam are the epicentres of the enthusiasm for creating new games. These Hackathons for games are the ‘hunger games’ of computer entertainment.
It’s an incredible sight to witness a collaboration between programmers and game designers linking outstanding skills and abilities. Over an intensive three days, 5-person teams compete against one another to design and create mock-ups of new games. The results are electrifying.
Because in the field of game creation, there’s a behind-the-scenes coding effort, and that’s what gets peoples’ blood pumping.
There are reasons people do it, and no, it’s not because they’ve wanted to create games since the beginning of their careers. Funnily enough, most game designers I have spoken to don’t even play video games that regularly!
What’s more surprising is the fact these Game Jams attract programmers of all ages. IT development has always attracted many of Poland’s brightest young minds. Young developers favour game Jams; however, one such notable person at this recent BialJam boasted over ten years’ experience in the industry, standing out against the backdrop of engineering and IT development students.
Ultimately, it’s fun to make games, no matter the age. For some, it’s better than playing them!
Game creation is a creative outlet for some of Poland’s best designers. Also, the fruits of these artistic efforts are nothing short of serious business.
Why Gaming Is All Around You
Video gaming brings joy to 2.3 billion people. Starting from humble beginnings in 1947, to the onset of the digital display in 1952, then fast forward to today – gaming experiences parallel today’s most up-to-date technologies, such as virtual reality, cloud-based hosting, and even streaming.
And, this is at the grace of some very competent people. The game development industry consists of a highly interdisciplinary process, attracting able minds in graphic design, music composition, screenwriting, and of course – game development. Piotr Iwanicki, the creator of the acclaimed game, SuperHot, likens game creation to an opera, as the first time when developers, artists, and producers can work in concert to establish a new art form.
To put it simply, this industry breeds a generation of IT programmers capable of applying their abilities into a range of IT competencies. Some countries continue to fare well, while some fare better than others.
In all, the gaming industry, consisting of the sheer size of this IT talent across the world, reached a total of 138 billion USD for the year 2018, with growth expected for the next two years. As of 2017, the industry employs approximately 220,000 people in the US, and 50,000 in the UK for a similar period. However, where prospects are brightest, is Poland, the largest market growth rate in Europe.
At 4bn PLN, (550m USD), the industry may seem a drop in the bucket – but at a 0.1% GDP ratio, this sector is on par with the USA, the world’s largest video game market. What’s more, is that analysts predict a continued sector growth of 9% year-on-year.
A Very Familiar Process
While different from standard IT processes, the game development method creates value that easily translates as competence in software engineering. The value chain from video game development consists of the following:
- Capital and Publishing Layer
- Product and Talent Layer
- Production and Tools Layer
- Distribution Layer (Publishing)
- Hardware Layer
- End-users layer
Employed within this industry, are a range of IT, coding, and development professionals, each with wide-ranging competencies and areas of expertise. These begin with the game programmers, designers, level designers, as well as game producers, artists, and even those with meticulous eyes for details in quality control, the game testers. What’s curious about these titles is their close similarities to jobs within the IT sector in general.
Work Hard, Play Hard
The reasons are stark similarities between game development and Software development processes. In all the process is outlined as follows:
- Idea / Concept
As you can see, video game design and its roles very much align with computer programming. Clearly, these roles quickly translate to mainstream IT support, which are one of few fields, into which outsiders can view and glimpse into programming culture.
But how can you measure the strength of a market’s ‘gaming’ expertise?
How Strong Is Poland’s Gaming Industry?
Numbers and statistics are great examples, as I’ve provided before. But as with any industry, name brands, and titles are the decisive indications.
One shining example is an upcoming game, Cyberpunk 2077, a central hit at video game industry showcase, Electronic Entertainment Expo, in 2019. The debut featured The Matrix Trilogy, and John Wick actor, Keanu Reeves with a starring role within the game, as an example of the grandeur of this product. Developed by CD Projekt Red, in Warsaw, the company is a firm European industry heavyweight.
With a market value of approximately 5.4bn USD, it’s the largest in Poland and a leader in game development expertise. Aside from the highly publicised announcement of Cyberpunk 2077, (don’t let the title fool you – the release is scheduled in 2020) industry analysts note that this firm is the brains behind the famed Witcher game series – selling 33 million units as of 2018.
The Witcher Series, an open world game in which you assume the role of a protagonist, navigating a unique ‘J.R. Tolken-esque’ environment, is one of many ‘super star’ products representing the development industry in the country.
These products can come from humble beginnings too. Game Jams across the country, attracting programmers nationwide, are guaranteed to produce what developers refer to as a ‘Pearl’, or an accidental creation with excellent development prospects. Interestingly, many of these game designers work within conservative industries, hence the notion that ‘Pearls’ come from the most unlikely of depths.
One of these aforementioned ‘Pearls’ is the award-winning game, SuperHot, whose inventor, Piotr Iwanicki developed at Poland’s premier Game Jam, WGK, in Gdansk, in 2011. Its initial development attracted support via Kickstarter, where it was then picked up by game retailing platform, Steam. Following its initial release, it caught the attention of Sony, who helped develop it into the critically-acclaimed Virtual Reality game.
Creativity & Competence
The list goes on, but in all, the examples are abundant, with an industry estimation of 300-400 Polish game development studios operating, its presence surpasses that of Germany, its largest trading partner. A combination of formidable expertise, technical culture, and favoured development costs have turned the country into an IT development powerhouse, from which games are a lucrative by-product.
Unsurprisingly, Poland boasts expertise in game development on-par with the world’s largest market, the US. In my opinion, most businesses should easily identify such credentials.
Your Industry of Titans
It’s an enormous industry, and it’s experiencing unparalleled success relative to other sectors. With steady growth, owed due to favourable development costs, and competence, the conditions are favourable for software development, IT services, and of course, the Video Game development industry.
As the industry unfolds, and presents onto newer consoles, through to more advanced platforms, Poland boasts a premium source of talent, rivalling its peers across the world. Its production of leading games is tangible evidence to that notion – as its titles adorning retailers online and across the globe – the expertise is clear for all to see.
Sales numbers and millions of players are one way of rating a country’s technological know-how, catering to the worlds’ industries, wherever IT support warrants.
Just as the new saying goes; people are now voting with their clicks! So, the choice for businesses is simple.