With the number of gaming studios in the country rising by the day, the requirement for dev talent is also following suit. With multiple facets to the growing industry, more individuals are taking up gaming as a full fledged career option. While there were only a handful of training centres earlier, that number have also seen a spike to meet the demand. Says Backstage Pass founder and President Surya P, “A decade ago, there were as few as two to three colleges that offered additional gaming courses while now, there are at least 20 to 30 colleges that offer such courses. The games industry is multiplying swiftly; there were around 20 to 30 game companies a decade ago, and now, there are more than 300 companies. All ranges of companies are present from start-ups with a ten-member team to multinational companies with over a thousand employees. There is a massive demand for talented game developers in this industry which will only grow with the coming years as the number of game companies will only increase.” According to the FICCI EY report real-money gaming — fantasy and esports — and casual gaming were on the rise in the country, pushed by a 52 per cent growth in total gamers which stood at 278 million. Even international giants like Ubisoft expanded their footprints in the country with their studio in Mumbai and looped in a number of Indian talent for their development team. While gaming in India is majorly looked at as a hobby still, the scenario is changing now. Contributing to that can be the rise of mobile-led gaming and esports. Titles like PUBG Mobile has made the hyper-casual players think a little more about gaming. Another factor is the rise of smartphone availability and cheap data. With this comes a tad more seriousness about taking up a a career in gaming in the country. The same was resonated by the Backstage Pass founder, “The rapid growth in the games industry because of the support of government policies and the gaming ecosystem is a noteworthy change in the games industry. Another remarkable change is the slow but steady liberalisation of parents’ mindset, and they now view it as a legitimate career choice. There is a lot more awareness about the games industry and the promise it holds for the future generation.” Taking the example of the aforementioned institute itself, it was founded in 2009 has over the past few years branched out to Pune and Bangalore as the organisation sees Hyderabad, Pune and Bangalore as the “major gaming hubs in India”. There are numerous gaming companies in these three cities and hence the demand for talented game developers which institutes are catering to. However, in the Indian market, convincing parents about gaming being a viable career option can still be tough, says Surya, “There are many students with a passion for games and many ideas that they would like to implement but are held back due to the lack of parental support. It is often observed that parents view gaming as a hobby but not a serious life choice. Backstage Pass has counselled many parents regarding the opportunities and resources of the games industry and has given real-world examples of the growth in this field.” Where are we headed in the next five years? “In the next five years, there will most probably be a drastic increase in the number of game companies, there will be more and more skilled game developers and a number of AAA games will rise. Augmented reality and virtual reality (AR and VR) games will be the future of the games industry. AR & VR games are quickly becoming popular with the next generation and have great potential in terms of enhanced technology. The quality of AAA games and the skillset of future game developers will be much greater than it is now.” concludes Surya. While the industry is showing signs of life and recognition in the country, there is still a long way to go before it becomes mainstream. As brands and organisation become more aware and leverage the potential that gaming brings to the table in terms of revenue and engagement, the industry is likely to adopt the medium completely. However, given the rate of growth at which the industry is pacing, we might get there quicker than we expect.