Success Needs the Freedom to Fail

A sharp mind, quick questions, high doses of common sense, loads of candour, a maturity level that stumps any adult and of course a dash of humour. Mix all these ingredients into a potpourri, and you get none other than Debdatta Basu. A game developer since his school days and a graduate from IIT, Roorkee, Deb can converse non-stop and be simultaneously thinking a couple of steps ahead of his conversation.

Were you thinking of game development when you started college at IIT?

“I developed games at school. It was a lot more fun to develop games than applications from the school’s textbook. The subject was interesting enough that I didn’t mind spending long hours learning concepts that would be considered dry or boring otherwise. My education at IIT served to expand my knowledge and formally cement a lot of things I had learnt. I am a great software engineer today because of the curiosity and interest I developed while making games in school.”

What defines a software engineer?

“A software engineer is someone who engineers and builds software. He is identified by what he builds and not necessarily by a job or a designation, or the tools he uses. A great software engineer should be strong enough in his fundamentals to adapt to the rapid change that is a reality of the industry.”

What was your first job?

My first job was at a semiconductor company. I participated in the design and implementation of drivers for graphics hardware.

How did you happen to choose game development as a career?

“I do games because they are fun to build. Game development has many more moving parts than a business application, which makes it more mentally stimulating to work on. Games are a pure technology play. The recurring costs are low to non-existent. That makes for an interesting business model as well. Overall I love games and so far, they have loved me back.”

There seems to be an acute shortage of game developers and other types of talent for the booming gaming industry. What kind of talent should we bring into game development?

“We should target kids who are avid gamers. It requires some stubbornness to pursue a career in games, and kids who are avid gamers already have it in them. Such kids take to gaming naturally.

Young engineers working in the industry are the second set of people who are the ideal resource pool. Many of them want to get into software engineering roles and game development presents a tremendous opportunity to do so. Backstage Pass has the right courses for them to get trained and placed in software engineering roles.”


What do you think of game development as a business?

“For a game development business to be sustainable, it has to deliver hits consistently. Many people think the game industry is too risky. But anything is too risky if you don’t understand the landscape. If you don’t know how to lay a brick, then constructing a house is risky.

Success in the game industry is a matter of figuring out what the market wants and meeting the market’s needs with a well-designed product that can sell itself. In game development, it is not about the production house or the star cast as is the case with movies. Gamers love or hate a game purely because of the experience that it provides. So, it is a more level playing ground out there.”

How does one learn game development?

“Today anyone can learn what he or she wants to learn. I learnt to code by building games, and this can be a fun way to get engaged talent into the software industry as a whole. There are plenty of resources available on the Internet for those who are eager to learn. Khan Academy has very good content. Consider Udemy and Coursera as well. Google is good for research.

Software engineering is a constant learning process. Once you know the fundamentals, follow sites like Stack Overflow, The Hacker News and so on. The software engineering community is quite friendly, and when you approach people with a specific and legitimate problem they rally around to help you.”

As a country, what should we do to promote making games in India?

“We should understand that game development, at its heart, is a creative industry. And creative industry can thrive only when one has the luxury to fail. To achieve success in one game, we will have to fail many times. Those who quit and return to other professions should be accepted as normal people. Let our kids and youngsters fail when they follow their dreams. They have very high chances of succeeding in life if we let them fail without fear or shame.”

That sums up Deb’s approach to life. Good luck Deb and all of you who look forward to taking part in the booming gaming industry.


How Do You Assess A Game?

Assessing a game is an art, science, part intuition and part knowledge.Developing a critique of a game sends you on a journey to understand the various aspects of a game. The journey teaches you more about games than the end analysis about the game.

Here are some broad areas you can look at when assessing a game.

What is the Intent of the Game

The intent of the game can be making money or providing fun or just a passtime or a combination one or more of them.

If the motive is to provide fun, the definition of fun varies with the audience, age, education and so on. For example, for a racer’s game, the primary audience is casual gamers rather than hardcore gamers. Look at the primary audience of the game and see if it satisfies the primary audience. If it does, you can conclude that the game has fulfilled its intent.

Does the Game Engage the Audience

An engaging game puts the players in a state where they lose track of time, feel like playing nonstop, and want to return to the game at the next opportunity.

Engagement is a state of mind. Sometimes the engagement comes through a skill that the player has to master or the challenge to finish a particular level. If the audience returns to the game consistently, you can conclude that the game is indeed engaging. Often, the engagement is provided through unlocking higher levels of the game or providing a leader board where the player can compare herself with all those who are playing the same game. Social features, tasks and rewards, too contribute to higher engagement levels.

Also, check if the game is replayable. Replayability is the art of providing variation when a player returns to play a game. Variation increases engagement.

How is the Game Designed

If the game in question is for casual gamers, then the game should present the levels appropriate to such audience. In other words, the game should not be either too shallow or too difficult. Also, it should reveal appropriate levels based on the expertise of the player as he masters each skill level. The art, the soundtrack, the player persona, the game mechanics, and the overall feel of the game should be geared for the audience.


Analyse all games that you play so that you can master the art of developing a critique of games. The knowledge and insights you gain through game analysis will help you make sound decisions when you develop games.

Happy gaming.

Sushil George

@Home with Gaming – Sushil George

Today, we are showcasing one of our faculty members, Sushil George. Sushil considers himself a Hyderabadi. He holds B.Tech. from JNTU, Hyderabad and has been working as a game developer for over 6 years now.

Childhood, Motivation and Inspiration

Sushil GeorgeIn hindsight, I see that games inspired me more than people as I was growing up. When I saw a DOS game load on a Windows 95 PC, I would get excited beyond words. I was playing all the games I could lay my hands, though the games were difficult to find in those days. The two years of junior college(Intermediate)that followed were busy years as I had to prepare for various engineering entrance exams. After joining B.Tech., I was back to playing games. I learnt C and Java as part of the courses in graduation, and the learning helped in my later years as a game developer.

Soon after I completed graduation in 2010, I joined Gameloft as a QA tester and understood the process of game development. A few months later, I left Gameloft and joined Backstage Pass to pursue the Advanced Diploma in Game Programming. The training has really helped in my later years as a game developer, thanks to my experienced and talented mentors. Later, I joined Avakai Games and since then, there is no looking back.

Gaming as a career is relatively new in India. The 40+ population in India hardly plays computer games. My parents do ask me occasionally if this is the right career for me. But I guess what matters to me is l feel at home in gaming. I believe that when I am at home in a particular area, I give it my best. And that is what important. At some point, money and passion will come together anyway.

Advice for Wannabe Entrepreneurs

Unless you have someone ready to invest in your venture, it is not really possible to start off as soon as you come out of college. So it is better to work for 3 to 5 years in a company. This will help you save some money for your venture and also give you a firsthand knowledge of how to run a game development team. When working, handle as many responsibilities as you can so that you know something about everything. And don’t forget to build in-depth experience in at least one chosen area of interest and keep networking by attending all the conferences within your reach.

Before you launch your own venture, ensure that you have released at least 1 or 2 games. That will help you understand what it takes to ideate, develop and release a game. Releasing a game is of great significance because the market not only teaches the process of and hurdles in marketing a game but also acts as a touchstone for your career.

Want to Pursue a Career?

This works fine for many of us. If you go abroad and get employed in a company with a good track record, you can probably retire from the same company. This is so because, in the West, the gaming industry is so well developed and is growing non-stop. They play games as individuals, families, friends and professional gamers. It means a healthy growth for the industry.India is not far behind as the job prospects are better than ever and will continue to grow.

The Chosen Path

No matter which way you want to go, give it your 100%. The most important thing: never stop learning and seeking newer game technologies.You will do just fine.

Wishing all of you a great journey in gaming.

— Sushil George

How Do You Choose a Job When You Receive Multiple Offers?

How Do You Choose a Job When You Receive Multiple Offers?

As a student, if you have dirtied your fingers in just about anything in gaming, tried to build a game or two, and your brain cooks games all the time making new rules and roles, you are very likely to have more than one offer by the time you finish your education in gaming.

The factors discussed in this blog may vary in importance for each of you. Backstage Pass is bringing this article to discuss some long term effects each factor will have on your journey ahead.

Large Companies and Indie Companies

Large companies typically have better employment benefits and more streamlined operations that affect an employee’s life. However, to gain visibility and recognition are not easy and the scope for learning depends on the group you will join.

In indie companies, you get to work in niche areas, handle a lot of work that is well beyond your imagination and typically work with very senior people. In a nutshell, the scope for learning is enormous. Some startups may give you shares in the company, called sweat equity. And others may offer fabulous packages with long weekends filled with work and fun.


Salary is an important consideration for many of us. If you need to support the family, support yourself, pursue higher studies without depending on parents, or save some money to start building games on your own, you must seek a job.

Never make a decision based on the size of the pay check alone. Consider all the factors below before you take a decision.

Creative Projects

There may be occasions when you want to be part of a team that is working on a new genre of game. Such projects always need an ability to stretch your mind and body. If you think you have them, go for such jobs that offer a place on the team.

When you apply yourself even to the most mundane task, you can turn it into the most creative adventure. Therefore, at the workplace, you should not look down upon any project. Many a time, an opportunity of your choice knocks on your door after you consistently prove that you execute all jobs with equal tenacity.

Creative projects give you an opportunity to fast forward your career.

Choice of Technology

While preferring to work with a particular technology, do build skills in other technologies that are alternatives and complementary for the chosen technology. This act will help you to remain relevant and steer the ebb and flow of tech trends.

A Good Team

No matter how good you are in your area of expertise, you are just two hands. A good team offers you more than hands: A good team trusts you and your ideas and gives you a space to think and wonder. A good team is a web of support in times of need.A good team has camaraderie that underlines its moments of harmony and disharmony.And a good team nurtures you.

Look for these traits in the team that interviews you and more specifically, the interviewer from your team.

Permission to Work on Pet Projects

Many times you may have a pet project or a side project that you want to pursue. It needs a lot of persistence to work on these pet projects as the work on these projects can be done only after attending to the regular work. Your interest in pet projects shows that you are a person who can strive longer and harder for things that you care about. While all organizations understand this fact, only some of them let you work on pet projects using the organizational resources. At the time of your interview, you can gently inquire whether the organization supports pet projects.


Use your discretion and listen to both your heart and mind when choosing a job offer over another because, the road less traveled may make all the difference in your life.


4 Ways to Earn While Studying Gaming

For students who want to support themselves while studying or work for the sake of gaining experience, or both, we are bringing out this article on how to earn while learning.

Making Gameplay Videos and Monetizing Through YouTube

Gameplay videos teach you how to play a particular game using a video hosted on YouTube. There are many famous gameplay video makers such as PewDiePie, Yogscast, Rooster Teeth, and CaptainSparklez. It takes a while to earn the scales that these players have achieved. But it is worth trying. And remember, India is an untapped market in games.


E-sports are competitive video game contests. And they carry handsome prize money to the winners. Players enjoy stardom, fan following and sponsorship’s as well. Dota 2 isa fine example of this kind, with a prize money of USD 18 million.

Indian Gaming League (IGL), Comic Con, Bangalore are some of the well-known e-sports platforms to reckon with in India.


If it is a year-long diploma course, you will apply for internship mid-way through the course. If it is a 4-year B.Tech.course in Game Development, you will officially start the internship in the final semester.

Collaborating with Seniors

Network as much as you can to nurture contacts. Similarly, develop expertise in areas of your interest. And then collaborate with your contacts to work for clients and seniors. It is OK even if you work for free for some months. The experience you gain is invaluable. The stepping stone for your next assignment is the fact that you have some real experience, not whether you earned money from your previousjob.

What Next?

By the time you pass out of school, you should ship at least one well-polished game. Publishing a game takes a lot of effort and tenacity and therefore speaks a lot about you. Consequently, it acts as the best stepping stone for an exciting career after college.

How to Land an Internship in Gaming

How to Land an Internship in Gaming

Internship is an experience that many students look forward to. And if you are the first among your friends and family to pursue gaming as a career, you may wonder how to land a good internship which is the stepping stone for a great career.

We are bringing you the 5 things that you must do, to get ready for an internship.

Attend Events

Attending events gives you access to people, trends, tools, and much more. Every event is a land of opportunities. The Game Developer Conference (GDC) held by NASSCOM every year is a great event to attend. It is scheduled to take place in Hyderabad in 2016.

Be a Part of the Gaming Community

Be a part of the gaming communities on social media and the web. Communities reverberate with trends and issues of the day and keep you abreast of developments in the field. Join communities that share knowledge, discuss issues, and deliberate on trends. Communities are organized by platform, by games, and so on. For example, Gamasutra blogs have a wealth of information on all aspects of making games. Likewise, explore the International Game Developers Association forums.

Start Working on Small Game Projects Early On

Get your hands dirty in making a game. The sooner, the better. Failed attempts at making a game teach you as much as the successful ones, if not more. Working on game projects teaches you how to anticipate issues, work within budgets, improvise resources, lock heads and find solutions, and last but not the least, steer the world of game publishing.

Be Persistent

Gaming is a demanding profession with a level playing field. The benchmarks on all fronts of gaming are set high and gamers are always pushing them higher. So to make a mark in the world of gaming, persistence is the best virtue you can possess. From small decisions to bringing projects to closure through publishing, it demands persistence.

Build an Online Portfolio

If you are a designer, make a game design portfolio and if you are a game art student, make a game art portfolio and showcase them. Your school often showcases student portfolios on the school’s website.

Create a LinkedIn Profile and Participate in LinkedIn Forums

LinkedIn is beneficial in two ways: It is the first stop for searching for talent worldwide. And LinkedIn helps connect to people working in your field of choice.

Upload a photo, fill in all the details on the profile page, and be visible to all. Also, fill in all the keywords and list your qualifications, awards won and so on. LinkedIn talks about you 24/7.

After you create the LinkedIn profile, start connecting with people. Work diligently on increasing your network. Also, join the groups that are relevant to your field of work and start answering questions posted by fellow members. This activity will build a public track record of your expertise and is very handy assessment tool for anyone who wants to work with you.

Above all, keep working and give your best to all assignments that you accept. After all, word of mouth plays a significant role in establishing your credibility.

Go, win people before you win internships or projects. And good luck.

choose an Internship

How Do You Choose an Internship?

When applying for an internship, you may find it difficult to decide whether the position is the right choice.

We are presenting a framework to assess an internship.

Wider Scope
Choose an assignment that gives you a wider scope of work. Such an assignment exposes you to the various departments of game making, develops different knowledge areas, and gives you a stronger presence in the world of game making.

Innovative Work
If the business offering the internship is doing innovative work, you may want to go for it. The reason is simple: even if your position includes routine work, you can network with the people involved in the innovative work and learn. The learning and exposure give you that streak of confidence that goes beyond good grades.

New Areas
It is always better to work at new areas. Note that it does not have to be a cutting edge technology. On the same note, whatever is new is always cutting edge, isn’t it?
Seeking new areas of work expands your horizons and helps you see your expertise in a new light.

A word of caution: you may be tempted to join where your friends are going but don’t. When you enter an organization where no one knows you, you will learn how to contribute in the real worldand know how to thrive alone.

The above framework is by no means complete. You can add all those factors that you think are important.

And then take a decision that is as objective as possible.

Your internship gives you a taste of the real world.

Go, savour it.

No Play to All Play – How Rahul Sehgal Came Home to Games

I met Rahul a few months ago in the offices of Backstage Pass. He looked almost lanky, a sharp voice and clear perception gleaning through his eyes and a casual authority over what he does seemed to make a large part of Rahul. I recognized him as Rahul, even before he said “Hello.”


Game Design Mentor – Rahul Sehgal

Rahul Sehgal is the founder of Roach Interactive and a senior faculty at Backstage Pass. We are bringing you Rahul’s journey and his impressions about work and games:


“My dad was a fighter pilot in the Indian Air Force. So I had to spend my childhood in some of the remote corners of India. However, I would get to play with lots of kids when I visited my extended family in Delhi and Shimla.Now and then I would get to play video games and PC games, but I never was an avid gamer.”

Enter Games

“Later I joined the merchant navy. I was there for about 18 years. I retired from merchant navy and was pondering over my next phase of life. I strongly felt, ‘This time it should not be just work. It should be a lot more than that.’ One path was to make games. Somehow my heart and my mind kept going back to making games.  And I started looking into the idea. The more I understood, the more convinced I was. Finally, I reached the point where I felt ‘This is it.’”

VFS and Later

“The next logical step was to enrol in a school. I went to Vancouver Film School, Canada to join the Game Design program. It was a very demanding course and taught me a lot, I mean, a lot. Without school, I would have taken about 4 years to learn all that I learnt. It was an awesome experience.”

“After graduating from VFS, I worked as an intern in QA at Piranha Games in Vancouver. Then I moved to Gameloft, India. While Piranha gave me the taste of the trenches of a startup, Gameloft gave me the exposure to game designing in an MNC. Finally, in 2011, I moved out and launched Roach Interactive. Currently, we are preparing for the launch of ‘Birds of Light’ for the mobile and PC platforms.”

Returning to India

“Soon after launching my company, Backstage Pass offered me the teaching position. It was a great thing to happen to me. Since then there is no looking back.  I develop, I learn, and I teach.”

Want to Work?

“Let me talk about what you would need the most to land a job in this field. Participate in game development as soon as you can. The game you helped develop should be available on Google Play, and App Store or for PCs. When your name shows up in the credits section, it means that you were part of the whole game development cycle. It talks a lot about you. The second most important factor is to have a well-curated LinkedIn profile.”

“What are the benefits of working in this field? It is getting interesting day by day. We are going to be a very highly paid industry with a wide variety of roles, not just a game developer or an artist. Also, this is a field wherein you don’t have to wear formals to work and say the right things. You can wear shorts to work and say what you think is right. Many opportunities for freelancing exist, and online collaboration with indie development companies abroad is a reality. And you can associate with them to earn both money and experience.”

Or Want to Turn an Entrepreneur?

“Before you become an entrepreneur, you should build an alternative source of income. Expect to fail in releasing the first couple of games. You need a lot of modesty and perseverance to stay on this path. And finding a good team is another factor that makes for a successful game.”

“And the benefits are well worth the effort and risks. Gaming is a field where even high school student can earn a couple of lakhs a month. Education facilitates but is not required. All you need is training in developing quality games, the ability to collaborate and build a team, and understand how to market games.”

Rahul Sehgal

Pocket Gamer Connects 2016

PG Connects, an annual event organized by Steel Media Ltd., was held in Bangalore between 21 – 22 April.

We are presenting the first-hand account of the event from Rahul Sehgal, Backstage Pass senior faculty and Founder & Creative Director of Roach Interactive. Some impressions from Rahul:

What is the significance of this conference?

“India has 2 major annual events for gaming, NASSCOM’s Game Development Conference (GDC) caters to all forms of gaming whereas Pocket Gamer Connects focuses on mobile games.”

Who attended the event?

“Game designers, game developers, students, bloggers, indie development companies, the Press, and just about anyone who has something to do with mobile games. Many speakers from abroad. The whole ecosystem was present. “

What was your talk about subjective design?

I discussed how to engage casual through core players through appropriate game design.

How do such conferences benefit the attendees?

“The opportunity to learn, connect, and showcase is enormous. For example, you can set up a table for an insignificant fee and showcase your game under development. The feedback you get is priceless. If you are an indie developer, you can find resources. If you are a studio, you can meet publishers. You can meet business developers who can market the game. Not to mention, such events organize competitions. These competitions kick off typically months ahead of the event. Isn’t that a great platform to showcase talent?”

Your advice for students of gaming?

All students should attend such events. Entry fee for students is subsidised. You get to experience the whole universe of mobile gaming. That can be a transforming experience. Also, the networking, the exposure, meeting the old and new friends, and the very vibes…all of them count immensely.

Anibrain School of Media Design's Showdown 2016

Showdown 2016 – Backstage Pass Team is the Runner Up

Ranging Tornadoes, with Mir and Prakash, was declared the runner up ( in the Games category of Showdown 2016.

Showdown is an annual event that attracts national and international participants to Pune where Anibrain School of Media and Design hosts this event. What makes this win sweeter is the fact that Mir and Prakash have been studying game development only for a few months now. They are in the first year of B.Tech. (Game Development) at Backstage Pass.

We are bringing out a blog to showcase what propelled such young boys to the centre stage at a prestigious event.

As I waited for them, I saw two lanky and shy-looking boys walk into the room. After the introductory handshakes, I deliberately took them on a trip of small talk. By the end of the talk, I saw they were smiling, nodding and chipping in with a word or two.

Mir Fasiuddin has always been an avid player of console, mobile, and PC games. Every time he would get a better grade, his family would buy him a game. And he had been showered with games throughout his childhood. When he passed his 10th class, the gift was a coveted Wii box. His eyes lit up even as he mentioned his Wii.

Mir says “I did not want to pursue a traditional career. So I started googling for offbeat careers and I found Backstage Pass.” He adds, “I knew I wanted to make a career in gaming and I should opt for the B.Tech. programme. So I picked up the mathematics stream in 11th and 12th classes.”

Jaya Prakash says, “I always used to have my way at home. My parents knew that whatever I do, I do responsibly so many decisions were left to me. I wasn’t a big time gamer. But after I joined a private boarding school for my 11th grade, I realized I was part of a factory that makes machines called engineers. And I knew the life of being a programmer because I know many in my family who are programmers. And that was a big no for me.” His eyes narrowed even as those words poured out. He adds, “When I told my parents I wanted to study gaming after my 12th grade, they were clueless. And my cousin stepped in to back my decision. (I owe him something.) Finally, I am here doing what I wanted to do.”

I set on to understand the bonding between them. “Well, we did a class assignment together and made a presentation. And that rocked bigtime. So we know we make a good team.”

And now comes the test, “What made you participate in the game?” Mir quips, “I saw the announcement on the notice board and thought we should give it a try. So I promptly roped in Jaya Prakash.”

“Since this is an international event, we weren’t sure where we would stand but thought we should at least participate.”, adds Jaya Prakash.

Then they set on to research. And learnt many things in their journey towards submitting the entry. How do we draw up a game design document, how do we engage a gamer, what traditional Indian games are popular, what locale do we choose, what choices do we give the player and so on. Many decisions with a lot of gut feel. And they submitted and forgot about it.

And when the results were out, they were in for a pleasant surprise. Raging Tornadoes was declared as the runner up.

“What did you learn?” I asked them. “Many aspects of game development, from writing the game design document to game psychology and some tools too.” Says Mir.

“The courage and now my parents know that I will find a niche for myself in gaming,” adds Prakash.

Even as I congratulated the boys, I could listen to their eyes say that the journey transformed them from within.

By Surya Prabha Vallae