Remarking about the “flourishing” videogame industry, GMR Director Kersten Chirchop has stressed that the growing sector provides “incredible opportunities” for the younger generation locally.
University of Malta’s Institute of Digital Games recently ranked fifth out of a 100 institutions in the prestigious Institutions Active in Technical Games Research rankings, a notable sign of the progress made by the institution over the years. The list evaluates game research centres worldwide, and includes a rigorous and comprehensive ranking process that assesses universities and institutions based on the publishing activity in the last decade.
Following this ranking, this newsroom reached out to Mr Chircop, Director of esports organiser GMR and Vice President of the Malta Esports Association, to discuss the videogame industry’s rapid growth, together with how it is viewed locally.
He stated that the ranking is an “accomplishment” that “proves the progress in making Malta a European game development hub”.
“It’s amazing how we’ve gone from almost no ecosystem a couple of years ago to now having Government-supported strategies, educational institutions offering high-level courses, and game development studios setting up offices here,” he explained.
Mr Chircop highlighted that since the launch of Malta’s “Vision for Video Games Development and Esports” strategy in 2019, there have been “significant efforts” to position Malta as a “top choice for global game studios and esports event organisers”.
Aside from making Malta into a European hub for the videogame industry, the strategy also intended to “future-proof” the economy through more diversified and robust economic growth.
As a result of this, there have been various “major developments,” Mr Chircop explained, including “the world’s largest esports organiser ESL hosting global tournaments in Malta, local studios stepping up their game, and globally acclaimed studios establishing their presence here”. He remarked that each of these factors have “significantly contributed to the industry’s expansion”.
He confirmed that due to the industry’s rapid growth, there has been an increase in the number of people interested in working in videogames, adding that it is “exciting” that nowadays there are “fantastic opportunities” to work with game studios in Malta.
“You don’t need to head overseas to chase your dreams anymore, and this has truly lit a spark of hope for those enthusiastic individuals with a passion for gaming and the industry,” he said.
Speaking from his own experience at GMR, Mr Chircop stated that a number of talented individuals who had been working abroad previously, are now “happily coming back to our island to contribute to the local ecosystem”. He added that there are over 10 game development studios right now which are “thriving” in the ecosystem, and this growth has all happened in just a span of a couple of years.
Despite the significant growth the industry has experienced, Mr Chircop explained that pursuing a career in videogames is still not viewed with the same amount of respect as other industries.
“I’d say this ranking really puts our country on the map internationally and earns us some well-deserved recognition. However, it’s a bit of a pity that the same level of respect isn’t quite there yet within our borders,” he said.
He remarked that there needs to be more awareness and knowledge about the industry locally, a goal GMR is striving towards through Playcon, an expo that “opens doors for the public to better understand the industry”.
Asked whether the misconception that gaming is not a suitable career path is having a detrimental effect on progress, Mr Chircop said: “I truly believe that fostering a positive mindset starts within our own families, and parents hold a significant influence in this.”
“There’s a flourishing industry out there that can offer incredible opportunities for their children,” he added, pointing out that communication about the industry “needs a boost” in order for parents to understand why their kids are passionate about gaming.
“Sadly, gaming is sometimes still brushed off as a mere time-wasting hobby, with doubts about its potential. Yet, with continuous efforts, I’m confident we can gradually shift this perspective,” he concluded.
Mr Chircop started GMR together with two partners in 2012, and since its establishment the esports event organiser has grown extensively, particularly through the launch of Playcon, having recognised a gap in terms of expos and conventions that focus on gaming in Malta. Aside from his role at GMR and the Malta Esports Association, he is also Director of The Gamers Lounge.
GMR Director Kersten Chircop / LinkedIn
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