US Embassy helping hand in empowering Malaysian game creators

The United States in Kuala Lumpur is lending game creators a helping hand in producing socially conscious games, with a focus on current issues like climate change, civic engagement and women empowerment.

In collaboration with Biji-biji Initiative and Synapze, the embassy today launched the ‘Games Bagus’ initiative aimed at local games developers with the skills, tools, and necessary resources to help affect change in their communities through their games.

To that end, experts on game design and narrative, Lindsay Grace from the University of Miami and Margaret Moser from the University of Southern California, were invited to participate in the programme by the US Embassy.

Grace said Games Bagus can help hone Malaysian creators’ game design and narrative skills through training and mentorship, which is especially relevant as gaming-related industries in like esports are levelling up.

“In Malaysia, there are so many game players and by looking at an average, about 60-80% of the general population plays and pays for games.

“With the rising esports scene and console games in Malaysia, making socially impact games is important,” he told Bernama after attending the launch of ‘Games Bagus’ by the Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Malaysia, Michael Newbill, here.

Also present was Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) Director of Digital Content Development Mohan Low Han Sen.

Games Bagus is a four-day programme held at the Me.reka Makerspace in Kuala Lumpur from Thursday until Sunday (May 29), which includes a two-day workshop led by Grace and Moser.

The workshop will be followed by a two-day game jam during which participants conceptualise and prototype games. Following a pitching competition, three game developers will be selected to receive funding to further develop their games.

Meanwhile, US ambassador to Malaysia Brian McFeeters said in a statement that games could spur a new generation to think critically about issues ranging from the environment to trafficking-in-persons.

“We’re excited to bring to Malaysia some of America’s most innovative thinkers on using games and technology to promote positive change,” he said, adding that Games Bagus is an excellent example of what the United States can bring to the table to support Malaysia’s incredible young talent as they strive to foster positive change in their communities.

The Games Bagus workshop and game jam includes 60 participants across Malaysia who have a diverse range of skill sets and experiences including independent game developers, programmers, animators, scriptwriters, artists and educators.

The programme kicked off with a series of four webinars featuring American and Malaysian experts on game design and social messages. All of these webinars are viewable on the Games Bagus website.

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