Game for hi-tech success


By JOANNE LIM

COUNTER Strike, Championship Manager, Snake2, Space Impact, Bantumi, Pairs2, Red Alert and Diablo are familiar games to many teenagers and young adults. 

Available in various genres, including role-playing games, quest games, and strategy games, they allow players to take on the role of terrorists, troop commanders or team managers. 

Twins John Ngui Kin Choong and Arthur Ngui Kin Seng are well versed with video games, spending about three hours a day managing their own football team. 

“The Championship Manager requires you to buy and sell players, find ways of profiting, and maintain your popularity among players and fans, or else you could even be sacked,” says John. 

TWIN INTERESTS: Arthur Ngui Kin Seng and John Ngui Kin Choong find PC-based games exciting and challenging.

The twins, both pursuing the Bachelor of Information Technology degree at Help Institute, enjoy challenging each other in PC-based games.  

“These games are very interesting because they test your tactics and skills, which means you don't just sit in front of the computer and play aimlessly,” says Arthur. 

Although video games are known to be addictive, John says he does not let it interfere with his studies. “We play more during the holidays and a lot less when exams are near,” he says.  

The 20-year-olds are among 70 students from Help Institute who participated in the first workshop of the Video Games Series (VGS) 2003.  

“It is exciting to learn the concepts behind the games and how they are actually created,” says Lin Sook Yee, 20, a Bachelor of Computer Systems Engineering student who plays Tetris Net online. 

Organised by the college and Université de La Rochelle in France, the VGS comprises three series, including the introduction to video games technology, light and sound technology and a highly challenging “Design to Survive” competition. 

“Sixty participants will be selected for the competition. Twenty places have been allocated for members of the general public, those with strong interest, knowledge and experience in video games,” says the college's dean of studies Choong Yeow Wei. 

French light and sound expert Fredrich Blin will be conducting the second workshop, sponsored by Apple, from July 3 to 9. 

Those chosen for the competition are required to attend the workshop.  

“Although students will learn various elements of video games technology for different platforms, the competition will only focus on mobile games as it is sponsored by Ericsson,” explains Choong. 

Working in pairs, each team would be placed in a room with food, bed, and other basic necessities for 72 hours. The task is to develop an entire video game within the allocated time. 

“It is somewhat like a survivor competition and participants will not be able to keep track of time as all clocks and watches will be removed,” says Choong. 

For John and Arthur, making it to the competition would be the chance of a lifetime. 

Says Arthur: “I hope we will be selected because I'm sure my brother and I would make a great team.” 

Lock and load, Okay let's go! 

The collaboration between Help Institute and Université de La Rochelle was launched with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on May 21. 

The partnership is the springboard for various video games technology seminars, workshops and soon, a Master of Science in Video Games and Interactive Media programme. 

“The aim is to give an entirely new approach to learning; it is playing to succeed rather than working to succeed,” says Choong. 

Help Institute's chief executive officer Chan-Low Kam Yoke says the college is the first in Malaysia to introduce such a programme. It is also the college's first collaboration with a French university. 

The 16-month Masters programme started in France two years ago with the support of various French national centres and is targeted at students with background in software engineering, computer science and information technology. 

“This new stream of computer science is a growing industry, especially now with mobile phones, palm, console, online and computer-based games evolving in the market,” says Université de La Rochelle researcher Prof Dr Patrice Boursier. 

FRUITFUL PARTNERSHIP: Help Institute chief executive officer Chan-Low Kam Yoke exchanging MoU documents with Universite de L Rochelle representative Prof Christian Eskanazi.

“Students would learn imaging and sound processing, interface and scenario design, programming, project management, and other specialisation courses for all platforms,” he adds. 

To facilitate upcoming workshops and seminars in this field, a Video Games and Interactive Media Centre or ViGIM will be set up at the college. 

Choong says: “The centre will be equipped with the essential hardware and software for students to gain valuable hands-on experience in video games design, development and technology. 

“It will also serve as a research and teaching lab, indirectly generating more exchanges between both institutions.” 

The public will soon see more educational video games with localised content.  

“As our country is culturally and historically rich, we will use Asian legends to create the games to be used in Asia or for export. We want to focus on the soft elements, not just on the technological aspect of developing video games,” says Choong.  

For more information on the Video Games Series 2003, call 03-2094 2000, fax 03-2095 7100, or visit www.help.edu.my  

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