As India witnesses more and more game developers going mainstream, along with a thrust on creating a new gaming ecosystem in the country, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has taken up the cudgels to find and nurture talent in the field of gaming.
Driven by smartphones, the online gaming industry in India is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 40 per cent to $2.8 billion by 2022, up from $1.1 billion in 2019, according to a Deloitte India report that came out last week.
India is one of the top five mobile gaming markets in the world, with a 13 per cent share of global game sessions. The online gaming industry in India is expected to add 40 million online gamers during the 2020-22 period.
According to Jodie Azhar, winner of the 2016 BAFTA Breakthrough Initiative and currently games director at Teazelcat Games, the biggest challenge is to make right connections with the people who can help you get your games onto various online platforms where people can buy it, and help you market it to the audience that will be interested in your games.
"I think that's where organisations like BAFTA can really help because they have such a wide network, both in the video games industry as well as film and TV. It is really interesting to see the merging industries and making those connections, to help you develop games and get it in front of people who want to play it," Azhar told IANS.
The applications for 'BAFTA Breakthrough India', supported by Netflix, are currently open and the entry window has been extended to February 8.
As part of 'BAFTA Breakthrough India', a jury of the British and Indian industry experts will select five talents from across India to take part in the year-long mentoring and guidance programme.
Jodie Azhar, winner of the 2016 BAFTA
Azhar further added, "People who have worked on AAA games, who have worked on independent projects -- they all have a wealth of knowledge and by being part of BAFTA through this initiative, you get access to that knowledge."
AAA (or Triple-A) video games are to the gaming world what blockbusters are for the film industry. Just like blockbusters, they usually involve huge teams working for months to years to make a finished product, employed by a big studio.
According to Azhar, they are seeing more virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) games, like Pokemon GO, where you leave your house and move around.
"But we still see people who want to play games sitting on their sofa sets, just to find a kind of escape from their everyday lives. What we're seeing is different types of games, dictated by the kind of hardware that's available and popular with consumers," she said.
The games professionals chosen by the 'Breakthrough' initiative will receive one-to-one mentoring, global networking opportunities, free access to BAFTA events and screenings for 12 months, and full voting BAFTA membership.
The chosen talent will also connect with and learn from some of the best in the British and Indian creative industries, share their expertise with peers around the world, gain access to opportunities beyond geographical borders, and be promoted as BAFTA Breakthrough artists globally.
Charu Desodt, games producer and 2014 Breakthrough Brit said, "Being named a BAFTA Breakthrough in 2014 was a career highlight for me. People recognise the BAFTA name and, in turn, it makes people pay more attention to you and your artistic vision."
The BAFTA Breakthrough initiative has been running in the UK since 2013, China since 2019 and launched in the US and India in 2020, supporting over 160 emerging talents to date.