The journey for Asian Institute of Gaming and Animation (AIGA) begun over half a decade ago in 2008 and it has certainly made its way up and spread its wings since then. Earlier dedicated to game development it has evolved into training students in Animation and VFX as well.
Speaking to AnimationXpress.com AIGA director – corporate affairs Hanif Mohammed says: “When we set-up AIGA, the thought then was to bridge the gap between potential talent and the needs of the video games industry, by imparting qualitative and focused education. And we still stand by it.”
Co-founded by experienced games industry professionals and seasoned academicians, AIGA is located in Bangalore and has been designed as a high quality boutique training school for the games and animation sector.
“We started out with a batch of only 7 students in the first year and then around 12 students in the next batch, because we believe in imparting quality education rather than being referred to as just another run of the mill institute,” expounds Hanif.
The team at AIGA comprises of experienced industry insiders to impart the right knowledge and skills needed to make it into the industry, worldwide. AIGA’s close connect with the Industry has helped continuously refine its courses being delivered. Along with teaching theoretical concepts, the courses also stress on hands on experience and learning, with emphasis on critique.
He adds: “Students at AIGA are exposed to relevant industry workflows and quality expectations. Student learning is additionally strengthened by frequent visits and guest lectures by professionals and stalwarts from the Indian and international industry.”
The institute had started out with a course lasting for nearly a year and a half, but after getting feedback from the industry and students alike cut-short the course to only a year as the demand for professionals was on a rise.
In terms of the course and curriculum, AIGA believes in constantly refreshing its course according to the industry requirements and has a Board of Studies in place, which includes professionals from the industry as well as the faculty members.
“Within a year of setting-up we realised that the industry was looking out for flash game developers, but students were keener on pursuing console gaming development, thus we tweaked the course to suit industry requirements,” explains Hanif.
AIGA has students from across India, covering more than 18 states. In addition, it also has international students from countries like Korea, Singapore, Netherlands, Iran and the Ivory Coast till date.
“AIGA graduate numbers has steadily grown over the years, currently there are about 100 students pursuing various courses. With over 200+ alumni working successfully in the Industry, our professionals are spread across various leading Game Studios in the country,” he adds.
The institute receives quite a few enquires but only about 40 per cent of them convert into potential candidates. The courses on offer include Diplomas in Game Art, Game Programming along with Professional Diplomas in Animation, Game Art and Design Art & Design apart from other short term certification courses.
The fees charged for a professional diploma is Rs 2.5 lakh per annum; for a diploma in game art is Rs 1.8 lakh and for animation is Rs 2 lakh. The newly introduced course of Bachelors in Fine Arts amounts to Rs 5.5 lakh, which is a 3 year full-time programme consisting of 6 semesters; each lasting nearly 18 weeks.
Hanif reveals: “The studios mentioned that they would require all-rounded professionals and thus we thought of introducing this course, which began last year, and ever since we have received a healthy response for the course and we are constantly trying to better our curriculum according to the suggestions made by the Board of Studies.”
The institute continues on its path of serving the industry and imparting knowledge to tomorrow’s industry leaders.
Here is what a few industry experts feel about AIGA…
ABAI president and Technicolor India country head Biren Ghose says: “Talent is the focal point for high end CG production. To the delight of game developers; animation studios and visual effects producers, AIGA has deciphered what it takes to create the optimal artistic and technical core – preparing talent for tomorrow’s jobs. They have been considerate of industry needs as well as those of aspiring artists and technicians – training by veterans; appropriate learning environments (both virtual and physical); syllabus and specific discipline-wise pedagogy are a part of their successful recipe.”
“AIGA is one of the most selective and quality oriented institutions in the industry. We like recruiting from them, and always support their excellent management and faculty in any way possible. AIGA’s alumni are working on cutting edge global projects for us,” adds Xentrix Studios CEO and Co-founder Jai Natarajan.
Dhruva Interactive CEO Rajesh Rao reveals, “AIGA’s game art course is run by very seasoned chaps. Joshi Mark and Shailesh Watsa headed our art studio from 1999 – 2007, so they know what’s needed in production teams. Over the last few years we have hired many from AIGA and those guys have indeed contributed to several AAA games. I rate them the best game art course in India currently. The key is for industry and academia to work closely. They need to constantly update their courses to meet industry needs, and they cannot do that without our support.”
Digikhel founder Joel Johnson exults: “AIGA is a very good institution for 3D modeling and art; the founders of AIGA, E. Shailesh Watsa and Joshi Mark Premnath have been very helpful and generous people towards independent game developers and have supported them well.”
“AIGA is one of its kind game development education provider in India. I’m really happy that finally there is an institute that focuses on developing student’s core skills. I was fortunate to interact with AIGA’s core team as well as some of their students and was very pleased to see solid discipline and quality training,” Zynga executive producer Sumit Mehra exults.
The gaming industry currently suffers from a lack of adequately skilled labour and the supply of talent needs to be ensured in order to further develop the industry in the country. Tax incentives, government aid and a lowering of the import duty rate would go a long way in adding competitiveness to the industry.
The gaming segment in India is experiencing a radical shift from the use of PC gaming to mobiles; and the success of XBOX 360 and play stations have given the necessary impetus to the Indian gaming industry. With the increase in the penetration of value-added services, a further shift from pc gaming to mobile gaming is anticipated. The key players in the gaming market are focusing on expanding the total consumer base of the industry with offerings that may even reach out to a new customer base – such as housewives.
“India is a very diverse market and the gaming business in the country is about Rs 1,000 crore on an annualised basis. However, the country is far behind developed markets when it comes to monetisation. In my view, the mindset of the ecosystem players must change and they need to focus on discovery and experience creation, if they want to see revenues coming in to the industry. And the only way to do so is to guide the young professionals, right from the learning phase at institutes like AIGA. The market needs a lot of segmented games and must remove the roadblock of internet to make mobile gaming more acceptable and discoverable. Advertising and carrier billing are the ways forward,” expounds a media observer.