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5 little known victories of the local animation and gaming industry that we should be proud of

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[This is a sponsored article with MDEC.]

I like my cool action video games as much as my eye candy blockbuster animated films.

But because so much of the content I consume comes from outside Malaysia, I’ve previously assumed that our country had very little to offer in the digital content space.

Well, my assumptions were wrong.

We have plenty of success stories in our own backyard—our esports players earn big bucks at international tournaments, we have plenty of locally-made games to choose from, and award-winning animations Ejen Ali and BoBoiBoy to make us proud.

One of the agencies working to nurture the local creatives is Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).

To inspire more of the same, they organised the Malaysia Digital Creativity Festival 2021 (MYDCF 21), or more specifically the MYDCF Gamified Expo, which is part of the larger event featuring stage shows, esports tournaments, and more.

Throughout its month-long exhibit in November, our local digital content players shone brightly with award wins, a game launch and more. So, let’s take a look back at some notable highlights.

1. 111 school students got the chance to create their own games & animations from scratch

Like any industry, the video games and animations space rely on newer generations of talent to bring fresher ideas and skill sets. 

Creativity @ Schools award ceremony / Image credit: MYDCF 21

This was reflected during the Creativity @ Schools programme and competition that took place alongside MYDCF Gamified Expo. It aimed to inspire children and teens to try their hand at animation and game development. 

The programme received 111 participants consisting of primary and secondary school students who were guided in creating their own animations and games. The winning participants were rewarded for their creativity. 

In the esports scene, the Junior Shoutcasting Challenge attracted over 200 school student participants. It provided not just workshops and mentoring sessions to help hone their casting skills, but also a competition for them to flaunt abilities.

Dictionary time: Shoutcasting is a form of commentary for esports matches where casters entertain and inform the audience with engaging callouts and insightful analytic views.

NASEF.org / esportslane

None did so better than a 17-year old who had the opportunity to shoutcast at a professional Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) tournament during the festival.

His performance also earned him praise from the game’s developers Moonton.

2. Malaysia’s own MOBA premiered its first major tournament

As a seasoned gamer, I’ve poured possibly thousands of hours into multiplayer battle arena (MOBA) titles—namely MLBB and DOTA 2. Unfortunately, I’ve never played one made by Malaysians; however, that idea always seemed pretty neat. 

Ejen Ali: Agents’ Arena poster / Image credit: EjenAli YouTube

The good thing is, now I can because local animated series Ejen Ali now has its own MOBA. The aptly-named Ejen Ali: Agents’ Arena took to  MYDCF21 and had its first esports tournament, which even had a prize pool for RM10,000.

The competition garnered over 100,000 viewers across a couple of streaming platforms which is a good sign that the game is pulling in quite an audience. 

3. We launched our own publishing platform that focuses on locally-made games

MYDCF Gamified Expo also played host to the SEA Game Awards that highlight our country’s standout game developers and their works. 

Exist.EXE being showcased at MYDCF Gamified Expo / Image credit: MYDCF 21

This year, indie developers SkyFeather Games were given the Rising Star Award for their game Exist.EXE, a turn-based role-playing game with spritely 16-bit aesthetics. 

Another Malaysian name DreamTree Studio won an award for Best Story Telling for their narrative-focused game DeLight: The Journey Home.

Meanwhile, MYDCF Gamified Expo also witnessed the soft launch of the Malaysian Game Store, a publishing platform that specifically doles out locally-made video games. It’s a product developed in partnership with MDEC to the business opportunities and reach of Malaysian studios.

Kr8tif! Awards presented to a winner from Hong Kong  / Image credit: MYDCF 21

On the animation side of things, our country also drew the attention of creative talents from across the globe, including the United States, Hong Kong, Hungary, and Brazil, through the Southeast Asia Kr8tif! Awards.

Speaking of talent, there was also a career fair during the festival with over 200 opportunities advertised by more than 50 companies within the industry. 

Well-known companies such as PlayStation Studios, Bandai Namco, Streamline Studio, and Codemaster even held talks to help our youngins understand what a career in the games business looks like. 

4. Creators pitched their ideas for games and animations to big companies

Ejen Ali relies on his fellow agents to beat the bad guys, and even seasoned gamers must count on their teammates to secure a win. This is no different in the digital content business. 

To push Malaysia forward in this arena, collaborations among small and big industry players are a must. 

Examples of this are MDEC’s alliances with international companies such as Playstation Studios, Double Eleven, and Lerian Studios, as well as local brands Kaigan Games, Animonsta, and Passion Republic. 

Conference panellists at MYDCF Gamified Expo / Image credit: MYDCF 21

To encourage more development in this area, MYDCF Gamified Expo hosted conferences where the likes of Sony, Warner Media, Microsoft, Monsta, and Nintendo were present to give talks.

There were even opportunities for creators to pitch their animation or game ideas with companies such as Astro, WarnerMedia, Media Prima, and BBC Studios in attendance. 

5. Executed one of the largest conferences of its kind within the region with 80,000 viewers

With all these highlights to treat attendees, it’s no wonder the MYDCF Gamified Expo raked in a whopping 17,967 registered participants and had 80,000 viewers on the brand’s own streaming platform alone. 

These are impressive figures considering that as separate events last year, Kr8tif! And LEVEL UP KL played host to only 1,300 participants and 50,000 attendees respectively.

Virtual Dungeons & Dragons session / Image credit: MYDCF 21

According to MDEC, this year’s numbers make the festival the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia (SEA).

Things are certainly looking up for Malaysia’s games and animations industry—according to a report published by MDEC, Malaysian is the only country within SEA that has game companies that can generate over USD50 million in revenue. 

On top of that, the report also says that Malaysia has the third-largest game market within the region in 2020, raking in USD786 million. 

With this in mind, we’ll want more talents to further bolster the industry. The career fair we spoke about even featured notable companies Electronic Art and Bandai Namco as part of the hiring participants.

Therefore, Malaysia now has a robust ecosystem for not just individuals, but businesses to thrive in the games and animations industry. 

  • For more information about MYDCF Gamified Expo, click here.
  • You can read more posts on MDEC here.

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