Searching for Creative Minds and Passionate Spirits
By Flora Hwang
Creativity will be a key source of economic competitiveness in the 21st century. In his book The Rise of the Creative Class, Richard Florida defines the prerequisites for creativity-based economic development as the "3Ts": Talent, Technology and Tolerance. These "3Ts" are in turn underpinned by human talent.
The digital content industry has been attracting a great deal of attention in the last few years; it is generally felt that digital content will be one of the most important industries of the 21st century. The Taiwanese digital content industry is already beginning to make its presence felt on the international stage. The outlook for the computer gaming industry is particularly bright, with the growth of online gaming and the rising penetration rates for next-generation game consoles helping to drive the gaming industry's development. Human talent is the foundation on which the development of the creative industries rests; to maintain steady growth over the long term, the computer gaming industry will need an abundant and reliable supply of talent.
A 2007 survey of digital content talent in Taiwan shows that the jobs where Taiwan's computer game companies report the largest number of vacancies are, in order of demand: game programmers, 3D artists, and marketing personnel. In previous years' surveys, "game programmers" had usually been on the top three, however in 2007 demand moved up into first place. The position of game programmer usually requires a relatively high level of education, and qualified individuals would normally be expected to have majored in an information technology related field. Additionally, game companies generally prefer to recruit those who have graduated from a national, rather than a private, university. Besides demonstrating the necessary professional know-how, game programmers must also be hard-working and willing to learn. Unfortunately, other hi-tech industries are also eager to recruit people with this kind of background and qualifications; so the gaming industry has experienced great difficulty in finding enough programming talent to meet its needs. When it comes to recruiting 3D artists, game development companies are more interested in their know-how and skills than in formal qualifications. Of course, managers also expect artists to demonstrate enthusiasm and the ability to work well as a member of a team. Game developers are not too choosy about what subject their marketing personnel major in at university, but they do prefer them to have relevant work experience, and ideally they should be both passionate and knowledgeable about gaming. The survey also showed significant demand for art directors, R&D/technical directors and producers. These are mostly middle-ranking to senior positions. The personnel filling these positions will normally either have been on job training, or have been poached from other gaming companies. There is an especially serious shortage of R&D/technical directors and individuals with five or more years of work experience are in very high demand in Taiwan.
The survey showed that enticing talent away from other Taiwanese companies is the main means of acquiring of personnel for Taiwanese computer gaming firms, accounting for 34% of all new employees; recent graduates account for only 12%. Only 12 universities and colleges in Taiwan offer courses related to gaming; these schools turn out just over 500 graduates a year, of which less than 100 go straight into the computer gaming business. Given the need to fill 800 vacancies a year, headhunting talent from other computer gaming firms is common practice; this situation does little to improve the competitiveness of the industry as a whole.
With Japanese, Korean, and now Chinese firms also seeking to grow their share of the international gaming market, Taiwanese game developers firms need more than just talent; they need high-quality talent that can help them to secure and develop new business opportunities in today's "borderless" gaming market.
The process of internationalization is already underway, with several Taiwanese gaming firms collaborating with Hollywood-based production companies and other leading international corporations, which strengthen the capabilities of the industrial personnel.
Taiwan's efforts to cultivate computer gaming talent are already beginning to show results. The graduates of Taiwanese universities' newly established game design programs, and the products of the Institute for Information Industry's training programs, are already starting to make their mark in the computer gaming industry, helping to strengthen the capabilities and potential of the industry as a whole. Initially, Taiwan focused on quality more than quantity. The gaming manpower cultivation programs established by the Institute for Information Industry's Digital Education Institute aim to cultivate individuals with world-class skills and creativity; the Digital Education Institute anticipates that, after completing the courses, the trainees will able to produce work that reflects an in-depth knowledge of the latest international trends.
In the cultivation of high-level talent, the Institute's programs make use of first-rate international trainers and collaborative projects with other organizations and companies. The Institute also organizes international conferences, and sends trainees abroad for training and internships. The overall goal is to strengthen trainees' awareness and understanding of global trends, which in turn will help their future employers to develop a similar awareness.
The "Digital Content Institute Project", initiated by Industrial Development Bureau and entrusted to Institute for Information Industry's Digital Education Institute, has been successfully arming the digital content industry with an over 5000 person strong, well equipped workforce that is battle-ready in both technical and artistic aspects.
Furthermore, the project has provided on-job training to over 13,000 digital content professionals, thus elevating the professional skills and business know-how of Taiwan's digital content industry as a whole.
Over the coming years the digital content institute project will fervently endeavor to provide a platform for professional training, creative added-value services, and internationalized training in order to add variety and creativity, increase the quality of the workforce to international standards, which will in turn assist greatly in supporting our digital content industry.
(Flora Huang is Deputy General Director of the Digital Education Institute, E-mail: email@example.com)
Source: Intelligent Times
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