Poornima Seetharaman

Successful Woman Game Designer Bags Esteemed Award

1. Could you give us a brief introduction about your story and what made you get into gaming?

I’m Poornima Seetharaman. I’ve been in the gaming industry since 2006, primarily in the game design domain and worked with companies like Indiagames (now Disney India), Jumpstart (NetDragons), GSN Games and currently I’m with Zynga. I’ve also partnered with Square Enix to run their game development contest in India in the past. I also ran my game design consultancy called Pinaka Interactive and a game development company called Namma Lore Entertainment.

I also conduct workshops for various institutes. I’m a mentor at the Google Indie Games Accelerator, India and an Ambassador of Women in Games (WIGJ)

You can read more about me at http://drowlife.com/

On the subject of what made me get into gaming:

With the access of a PC during my Engineering days, Age of Empires II and Warcraft III happened to me. I made my own campaigns and shared it with my friends in college for feedback. Back then, I didn’t know I was doing a part of game design.

After my engineering graduation, I landed my first gig as a programmer in 2006 in a South Korea based Game Development Company. When a game design position opened up in the company, my classmate from college, who also worked there, suggested to our boss that they should try me out as I used to make these levels and campaigns back in college. So they decided to give me a chance.

It was supposed to be for a game that was along the lines of Neverwinter Nights for mobile. They had provided me with the D&D (Dungeons & Dragons) Manuals aka bible for Role-playing games and I was quite excited. I learnt more about game design and writing a game design document by researching the very minimal content that was available online back then and mostly just figuring it out myself from my gaming experience.

TL;DR – it was by chance!

2. As a woman in a mostly male dominated industry , did you face any difficulties in entering the gaming industry?

Yes, I have. I have had to prove my worth at least twice more than the average man.

And while it has definitely gotten better, I won’t say it is eliminated completely. Even now in many companies, when promotions or leadership roles for core game development are considered, a male candidate is preferred.

Having said that, the reason I’m in this industry is because of men who have supported me throughout. So invariably, it just comes down to people’s nature. But yes, sexism exists in small groups and I have heard this from a lot of my female colleagues as well.

3.Do you think the games industry in India needs to include more women game designers or developers? And Why?

Definitely. While gender specific factors like empathy, organizing etc can be debatable, the question should be why not? Why do we need to restrict anyone from entering the awesome world of games? If anything, we should facilitate women and other marginal communities.

4. What is your opinion about the games industry in India, and the future potential?

Larger organizations have India as an outsourcing arm, funded companies are looking at fantasy sports or Real Money / Skill gaming or free to play models. Few indies are focused on creating traditional premium video games. While we are definitely at a good place with the varied categories of gaming, I would like us to create more global content. We have talent, we need exposure, training and a good support system.

5.What are the projects you are currently involved in?

Farmville 2: Country Escape.

6.Tell us about the games you had developed or have been part of, so far?

Few of the titles I’ve worked on are:

  • For BREW devices (from a different era)
    • Bioshock mobile for BREW devices
    • Predator 3D
    • The Office (US) Challenge 3D
    • Mercury Meltdown 3D
  • A bunch of Cricket titles including Cricket T20 fever
  • Movin’ Maze 3D
  • School of Dragons based on the How to train your Dragons franchise
  • Games based on the Neopets franchise
  • GSN Casino
  • Mx Democracy – a game on the Electoral Process in partnership with ECI and NID-Bangalore.
  • Line Hop – A hypercasual game

7. How has your experience in developing such games help you grow as a game designer/producer?

When I started, there were barely any resources to learn from. Today that has changed, thankfully. Most of my learning has been the whole  “jump right into it and figure it out”. This has (personally) helped me grow. It is also why games like Bioshock mobile, Predator 3D and The Office Challenge 3D are games I’m extremely proud of as I learned a lot while making them. Trying to come up with the best solution against things like device restrictions to deadlines to team capabilities helps you understand what is the core thing you want to create and prioritize it.

Being open to learning, no matter where you are at your career is key. And also, learning can come from anyone irrespective of their seniority.

8. Could you elaborate the event where you have received your award?

Women in Games Global Awards 2020  is an extension of the Women in Games Global Conference. It is run by an amazing group of people who set up Women in Games to promote gender diversity.

Out of 61 entries for the Hall of Fame Awards, 12 were shortlisted by a pool of judges from the gaming industry; and it was then opened up for public vote where 6 women went on to receive the award.

9. Why is this award significant to you and what does it mean to you?

It was an honour to even be nominated for the Global (Women in Games) – Hall of Fame award. alongside some amazing achievers. So being one of the winners is double the honour.

I’ve believed in results and never went after recognition but who doesn’t like to be recognized and appreciated for the efforts they have put in. And sharing the stage on a global platform alongside some great veterans is a huge validation for the contributions I’ve made to this industry at whatever capacity I could. You can take a look at the Women in Games  – Global Game Awards winners here.

Besides that, this award is something I’m hoping will inspire other women and marginal genders to aspire and believe that they too can get here!

10. This is the first Women in Games Global Games Awards event, what is your view on conducting a completely female oriented  Gaming awards  event?

While Globally, this was the first time, the Hall of Fame awards have been happening since 2011. It was originally the European Women in Games – Hall of Fame.

While I’m all for gender equality, the way we are distributed is very skewed. I’ve personally seen more women turn up for women based events than a larger – for all- events. When I’ve asked them the reason, they have said that they feel more comfortable and safe that they won’t be judged. And in some of the larger events, it’s more of tokenism than equal footing.

While we are still trying to break the glass ceiling on a daily basis, platforms like these give you that morale boost to carry on and give you that validation.

A Developer’s experience of the Gaming Industry’s Benefits, Trials, Revenue & More

A Developer’s experience of the Gaming Industry’s Benefits, Trials, Revenue & More

1) What inspired you to build games?

This is a funny fact given my career choice now but, I was studying Biology & Physics in 12th grade when I had a moment of realization that becoming a doctor was nowhere close to my dream. Simultaneously, my elder brother’s close friend joined Backstage Pass Institute of Gaming and Technology which how I first heard of this college. Seven years ago there was no roadmap to enter the Games Industry.  Backstage Pass is a pioneer in Game education in India as they provided a path for game enthusiasts to learn game development and job opportunities upon graduation. Before I joined BSP, I did a diploma in Animation and it gave me an introduction to this similar field, which strengthened my resolve to pursue a career in Gaming.

2) How did you choose game design as your profession?

Due to my background in BIPC, I did not have an option to choose programming therefore; the only two options were Game Design and Art. Further to this, Programming carried no interest for me.

3) What was your experience in Backstage Pass?

My experience in BSP was very good. It wasn’t like a regular engineering college. All my friends joined engineering college and complained about their mindless study material. In BSP, we were never made to do mindless work. We always knew exactly what we were learning and why.

We had mentors not teachers, which is of a big help when it comes to solving the problems the students are stuck at while developing their games, practical learning and detailed individual attention. Therefore, their mentorship approach is a big boon.

4) How did Backstage Pass support you during your course and after your graduation in your career as well?

If the college observes students with good potential, they’ll fund you like they funded my flight for Singapore and Russia to attend Game Developer events or competitions for which I was selected. They’ll do all they can to raise talented students to great heights. Travelling with their support has given me the necessary exposure which was crucial during my career as each game we build has to be for the global game industry.

5) Could you give a small brief about your career after graduation till now?

During my final year, I released a game called Avion Flight Simulator which received 10 million downloads cumulatively on all platforms which brought in decent amount of money. The revenue from this game helped to stabilize us, expand our team and garner couple of client projects – AR & VR applications even for construction companies so as to show how their building will look in 3D.

Railroad is our next simulator game which received half a million downloads on the Playstore. It gathered good enough revenue with regards to the investment put into the game.

6) Which games were you a part of developing? How did they fare in the market?

I have developed seven games until now.  Notable ones are –

Veer Hanuman with half a million downloads on Playstore. Mizcoin Company took a chance and developed this game with me. Fortunately, it did very well and I learnt a lot on how to make a game from start to finish practically.

Petite, which highlights the issues women go through in their lifetime. This game apart from doing well also received 13 awards.

Picto – which highlights issues a child goes through in a household with domestic abuse. It received 5 global awards.

Avion Flight Simulator – which I developed in my final year, received 10 Million plus downloads.

7) Many know that games are capable of generating good revenue but to make it even more clear, could you give an estimate on how much a game with 1M downloads, 5M downloads and 10M downloads can make over the years?

Retention is the key, meaning for how long the users actually play your games. Free games make money with ads. To give you a metaphor that will explain the change in the way games are generating revenue –

A few years ago, the games had a similar revenue model like the movies, where you pay for the game and then play it.

But with the advent of smartphones, it has now become like television wherein you play it for free but get an ad break in between. So, with these advertisements and some in-app purchases, we generate revenue.

Also in Avion, the revenue was generated partly from Advertisements and partly from in-app purchases. Therefore, the longer people play your games, the more money you make which is where retention comes in. To keep players entertained, quality of games should be top-notch. Now, retention is more important than downloads. In advertisements, for every thousand views, you approximately receive 10 dollars.

8) Which genre of games do you think has the best market potential in your experience?

Every year the trend changes in the Games Industry. When I started – parking games were in trend. Then endless runners like temple run came into picture. After that, Shooters like PUBG, Fortnite or racing games. Match3 games like Candy Crush are evergreen and idle clicker genre is doing really well right now. We have to always be attentive to market trends.

9) What aspects of the game should be concentrated upon in detail during game development?

There is one absolute way for games to be successful and a thousand ways for it to fail so everything should be good. The concept should be very strong along with a good team. Everything should fall into place for it to succeed. For example, even if concept and art are good but the programming falls flat, it will not be received well by the users.

One crucial part while developing the concept is to really think about how you can keep a player engaged in your game for a month or two months at minimum. We should be clear on how to keep making them come back. Focus on retention.

10) What advice and tips would you give young or potential game developers?

My advice is to have a realistic mindset when coming into the industry. Playing and making games is very different. For example, watching a movie and directing one are very different activities. Developing a successful game will be a learning but also a tough experience. Many people make the mistake of playing a game excessively and calling it ‘research’. You need to play a game for ten minutes and watch game play to assess it which is quite enough for research. People need to be aware that constant learning without working is procrastination.

Backstage Pass’s Effective Solutions to Common Student Problems in Today’s Educational Environment.

Backstage Pass’s Effective Solutions to Common Student Problems in Today’s Educational Environment.

To pursue a degree in India, wherein it’s a race to rise to the top, is not only tricky but stressful for many students and the families that support them. So we can imagine what a rollercoaster ride it is for passionate gamers to make the unconventional choice of pursuing a career in Game Development along with the general pressures of student life. 

Such issues are identified and solved in Backstage Pass Institute of Gaming and Technology as our main motto is to provide quality education to all classes of game enthusiasts. Therefore, it is of utmost importance for us to actively take part in our students’ problems and figure out a solution.

We have researched some of the top issues that students not only from Backstage Pass but in many other colleges have faced and have taken measures such that our students will never meet the same, take a look!

1.Many students from lower to upper-middle-class have faced a problem of paying their tuition fee on time.

Backstage Pass has teamed up with individual banks to offer interest-free loans to the students, which has made an enormous impact and brought a great sense of relief to many of our students.

2. Backstage Pass in all its three branches (Hyderabad | Pune | Bangalore) which are located in prime areas to strengthen our associations with the surrounding game companies in the neighbourhood. Still, in prime areas, students have had a problem finding appropriate accommodation in their budgets which are near to the college.

We provide hostel accommodation for our students that are equipped with food facilities and RO water for reasonable prices which are located close to the college for convenience.

3. Students in most colleges do not get one on one personalized attention from their teachers which leads to a lack in understanding in-depth concepts.

To tackle such problems, Backstage Pass follows a mentorship program wherein we take a limited number of students and provide them with a mentor who closely observes their progress and guides them in all their concepts.

4.Some dedicated students enjoy working on improving their skills even after college timings. Therefore, our computer labs are open for longer hours for students to practice on their assignments/projects, which ultimately will help in developing their skillset.

5.Students may have doubts after college times which they may not be able to resolve immediately. Therefore, our mentors are available remotely even after college hours to help students whenever they need help.

Our weekend course of Advanced Diploma in Game Development is here for you!

No Time for a full-time course? No worries, our weekend course of Advanced Diploma in Game Development is here for you!

In India, most of us are made to choose our careers for the rest of our lives at the tender age of 16. It’s an education system that isn’t bound to change anytime soon.  When it comes to individuals who are passionate about building games through programming or art, it isn’t a career choice that is encouraged or supported by the parents or the society and at that age, we do not have the courage to say ‘No’.

But, Backstage Pass Institute of Gaming College provides game enthusiasts a chance at a do over with our one-year Weekend Advanced Diploma in Game Development, Art and Design courses. Our weekend courses help individuals, who have prior commitments during their weeks, to uphold their weekly chores and learn game development over the weekend.  

Backstage Pass believes in mentorship approach to teaching wherein experienced game developers from the industry supervise and guide our students during their course of study. This approach helps the students understand what the industry wants out of them and in building a network with in the industry.

The weekend Advanced Diploma has been introduced with working professionals kept in our mind though all individuals are eligible for this course.  This course is the direct solution for working professionals, who do not enjoy their current job and looking to shift to a new industry while earning their bread.

Within a year, you become a certified game developer with numerous job opportunities awaiting you. The companies that Backstage Pass is associated with are the top game companies in India therefore, your entry into this industry will start off with a bang!

To know more about their courses click here : https://www.backstagepass.co.in/programs-hyderabad/

The advanced diploma course is offered at all our three branches [ Hyderabad|Bangalore|Pune ] so checkout the one closest to you!

 So hurry now and register here – https://www.backstagepass.co.in/contact-us/

To grab your opportunity into the games industry!

Achievements of Backstage Pass Talents in IGDC,2019

Achievements of Backstage Pass Talents in IGDC,2019

The India Game Developer Conference (IGDC), formerly known as the NASSCOM Game Developers Conference (NGDC), is India’s premier game developers conference. It is organised by volunteers from the industry with the support of its sponsors and the Telangana Government. IGDC is the most distinguished developer conference in South Asia. The conference enables game developers to gain knowledge by interacting with industry experts as well as provide opportunities for their growth by giving them access to publishers and investors.

Backstage Pass Institute of Gaming has been a part of this conference since years past and has continuously been an active entity of it. Our students have won many awards and nominations during all its years of participation.

 Backstage Pass has been the education sponsor of IGDC in many of its iterations including IGDC,2019 and has strived to develop and improve its associations with various game companies to provide further more employment opportunities for our students. We also encourage our students to participate actively by providing separate discounted passes to them; this helps them interact with industry veterans and bring in recognition to their work and talents carefully honed at the college.

In IGDC 2019, Asar Dhandala  (Backstage Pass Alumni) and P.B Srivatsan (Backstage Pass Alumni) have won the Upcoming Game of the Year award, Satish Chandra (Backstage Pass alumni) is the founder of Teapot Games which won the Runner Up for Indie Game of the Year award and current Backstage Pass students Priyank Degami and Firoj Aktar were Runners Up for Student Game of the Year award. It gives us great pleasure to see our alumni and students alike performing feats of talent and skill.

Our focus, as a Gaming college, is to guide and supervise our students to motivate them to attend many such conferences with interest and showcase their skillset by exhibiting extraordinary work that will cast them in front of the top game companies in attendance. 

Come and grab the chance at Backstage Pass with their student loans!

Dreams of pursuing a higher education but need a lift up? Come and grab the chance at Backstage Pass with their student loans!

Did you know that only 25% of school students go on to pursue higher education in India?

First of all, the literacy rate in our country has continuously been low, and even the young adults educated till school level fail to pursue a college degree primarily due to the financial burden. Some are merely disinterested, but it is unfortunate to see students with a passion for academics discontinuing because they are unable to afford their tuition.

Being a part of Backstage Pass has allowed me to see that many talented game enthusiasts, who would be extraordinary game developers, do not have the monetary means to be a part of our college.

It would be disheartening to see a child’s face fall when he was told he wouldn’t be able to join here due to constraints he couldn’t control, especially the gifted ones who have tried to learn some gaming tools on their own in their school years itself. Under the right guidance, they would become merely extraordinary game developers.

Backstage Pass has always tried to encourage underprivileged students by offering scholarships to merit students as well as female students to introduce more and more gender diversity in the Games Industry.

But it still did not feel enough as we continued to see many students turn their backs on higher education because they were either unable to pay the fee even after such scholarships or did not qualify for our scholarships.

For years, watching this happen over and over again, Backstage Pass has come to the decision to offer student loans to any existing or potential students so that, they may pursue their education without any struggles or financial crisis.

In all our locations (i.e., Hyderabad, Pune and Bangalore), we offer such loans to all our passionate students. It helps them amass indispensable knowledge and also motivates them to be the best at what they do to repay their monetary debt as soon as possible with a lucrative job and comfortable lifestyle to show for it in the end.

We hope this initiative helps many potential students to take the reins of their education in their hands and graduate with a college degree but more importantly, a wealth of knowledge.

Study interesting courses and be rewarded for it! Sounds too good to be true? Well, be prepared to be surprised!

Study interesting courses and be rewarded for it! Sounds too good to be true? Well, be prepared to be surprised!

We all know that even when we love our subject, and it’s where our passion lies, studying per se can get outright dull at times.

Most colleges think it’s the students’ job to retain an interest in the ongoing classes or lectures, but they do not realize that they are equally responsible for making that happen.

Backstage Pass understands and takes up this responsibility on their shoulders; hence, they always try to implement practical learning but also, have an award system in their academic apparatus.

In an award system, mentors review their students’ assignments and projects thoroughly and pick the best work put forward to reward the corresponding student. Rewards can be anything related to their courses, such as art books and ecorche models. Some gifts can even be digital such as tutorials, art materials and videos. These presents are necessary for their courses as they help in creatively stimulating the students, but they are too expensive for students on a budget. Instead of giving these away free of charge, Backstage Pass decided to make their students earn them by rewarding the students with the best work.

 

They try to instil a feeling of accomplishment, and a will to do better in their students with such activities. It also helps in self-motivating the weaker students in the class.

It is a gratifying experience to be rewarded for your efforts, and which one of us doesn’t love a gift from time to time? So, to all the students of Backstage Pass out there, gather your tools and open up your minds to ace your college work and win some rad gifts!

 

Game development is the door to new opportunities

Game development is the door to new opportunities

Game development is the door to new opportunities

Here’s why:

A parent or potential student would have a few questions before joining any college. To put it simply, the two main ones, would be ‘WHY Backstage Pass?’ and ‘WHAT are the opportunities it provides that others don’t?’

 
Instead of providing one sentence answers, I would like to elaborate on your questions to ease your minds about choosing the best choice out of all the others.

 
Backstage Pass is all about educating their students specifically about game art, game design and game programming, each field is divided into an individual course. These kinds of students are sought after by top game companies as they do not need to invest time and manpower to provide training for trainees with inadequate knowledge, which is the norm as most colleges that offer game development courses combine all the fields into one three-year course or even worse, some trainees are taken aboard after going through entirely insufficient crash courses.

 
Not only do they prepare their students thoroughly for the outside world, but are also exceptionally well connected to the top game companies in India. The game companies provide their requirements directly to Backstage Pass, and they process their student profiles accordingly. Students start interning in their third year, 95% of these internships are converted into full-time jobs upon their graduation. Some of their alumni include game developers in Ubisoft, Dhruva Interactive, Sumo Digital, Sony India etc., and they earn on an average about 4.5 Lakhs per annum, it can go up to even 9 Lakhs per annum for a fresher based on their skill set and portfolio.

 
They provide a quality education that helps their students stand out in a crowd, thereby, securing dream jobs from the best firms in the industry!

Aspiring for a Career in the Game Industry

Aspiring for a Career in the Game Industry? Get a Relevant Degree with us NOW!

Backstage Pass held an MOU with Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University since almost a decade and from 2019 onwards, has become an affiliated college of JNAFAU.

We are an establishment that caters to a niche field of the education sector that explicitly offers courses in game technology of superb quality and detail.

The degrees provided to the students from this year (2019) onwards are:

  • Bachelors of Science (Honors) in Computer Science and Game Development
  • Bachelors of Arts(Honors) in Game Art and Design
  • Bachelors of Arts(Honors) in Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

These degrees are four-year courses that are divided into eight semesters.

We also provide one-year courses in collaboration with Lincoln University, Malaysia:

  • Advanced Diploma in Game Development
  • Advanced Diploma in Game Art & Design
  • Advanced Diploma in Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality

Though there is a change in the nomenclature of the degree, the knowledge and options given to our students have remained constitutionally identical concerning courses, teaching methodology, mentors and most importantly, recruitments. Unlike other colleges offering courses in the entertainment industry such as animation, VFX, film, etc., we provide a four-year degree that is deemed necessary by many lucrative employment opportunities and prestigious universities for higher studies.

Another salient feature of our academy is its location. From the beginning, it’s situated in a prime location (Madhapur) that is surrounded by game companies; therefore, it is easily accessible to potential recruiters and mentors. It also enables students, who are taken aboard as interns, to manage both their class and work schedules as most of our students begin interning in the third year and start earning their bread at an early age.

Backstage Pass Students Invited to ACHI 2018

The Eleventh International Conference on Advances in Computer-Human Interaction, ACHI 2018, was proposed as a result of a paradigm shift in the most recent achievements and future trends in human interactions with increasingly complex systems.

The conference which is organized by the International Academy Research and Industry Association (IARIA) happens every year and this year it will take place from 25th March to 29th March 2018 in Rome, Italy.

Major topics covered during the event includes: Graphical user interfaces, virtual reality and 3D interfaces, visualization techniques, organic user interfaces, Haptic interfaces, cognitive models, user modelling and user focus, interaction of computers with children, designs for aging population, human-robot interaction, human-web interaction, computer games, Gaming, serious games, social impact of gaming etc. In short, the key focus of the conference would be about the computer human interaction in various scenarios.

Students of BSP travelling for ACHI 2018

Students of BSP traveling for ACHI 2018

This year 2 students of Backstage Pass Institute of Gaming and Technology, PB Vatsan and P Urukram have been invited by the International Academy to present their research paper ‘Games that dust particles play’.

The encyclopaedic research paper of our students falls under the category of ‘Serious Games’ and they will speak about simulation for dust explosion, how the explosion happens, and virtual creation of the environment. They will be giving an in-depth theoretical presentation of their paper where all the factors on dust explosion pentagon (fuel, Oxygen, Heat, dispersion, confinement) are thoroughly evaluated and modelled.

Paper presentation options and session types will offer our students the prospect to share their work, discuss key issues in the field, and build relationships with attendees.

Surya P, Founder and CEO of Backstage Pass Institute of Gaming and Technology says “We have a bunch of creative students at Backstage Pass, who always want to learn and explore something new. Vatsan and Urukram are among them. This is a great opportunity for both of them to express their thoughts and effort they had put in”.