The following speech was delivered by Mr. Jason Chu, Chief Operating Officer International of DigiPen Institute of Technology on July 20, 2015.
Good morning, Ms. Angeline Poh, Assistant Chief Executive Officer (Industry) of Media Development Authority (MDA) Singapore; Mr. Takao Yamane, General Manager of Nintendo’s Licensing Department; Singapore Institute of Technology and Poly partners; friends from the Singapore Economic Development Board; local and international industry and education partners; members of the press and our very own DigiPen community.
It is my pleasure to be here to celebrate the official announcement of DGS.
DGS marks yet another milestone for DigiPen (Singapore).
In 2008, we set up our first overseas campus in Singapore at the invitation of the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB). The engagement with EDB took many years, but the efforts paid off. DigiPen opened its doors to our first batch of undergraduate students, which officially marked our entrance as an overseas university into Singapore. In 2010, with the encouragement of EDB, we continued this endeavor by partnering with SIT, Singapore’s fifth public university. So, the setting up of our campus to provide education services was our first milestone in Singapore.
A few months ago, we officially announced the setting up of our R&D center. The R&D center was built on the success of our campus as we developed and accumulated more intellectual know-how while fulfilling our role as an educator. The R&D center represents our further commitment to Singapore. This was our second milestone.
DGS is the third component of the ‘Education-R&D-Industry’ ecosystem that we have implemented in Singapore. The components of this ecosystem are mutually reinforcing and will add more synergy to the whole framework. Having DGS in Singapore marks the third milestone.
So, what is DGS?
DGS has two roles to play. First, it is an industry developer. Second, DGS is a publisher. In these two roles, DGS will help third-party developers in the Southeast Asia region to make and publish their games. As a result, we hope this will help develop the interactive entertainment industry further.
As a start, DGS will work on the Nintendo 3DS platform, and the games will be distributed globally on the Nintendo e-shop. MDA will also support DGS programs and activities in Singapore. In the future, DGS may broaden its support to other Nintendo platforms and game consoles from other manufacturers.
The collaboration between a university, an industry giant, and a government agency is indeed very unique. Not many countries can create such an entity, and it is to Singapore’s credit that such a formation can happen here. It is also a testimony that Singapore has what it takes to make such a venture possible. Furthermore, it is a privilege that DigiPen can contribute in such a meaningful way towards Singapore through this setup during its Jubilee year!
To further elaborate on what DGS does, as an industry developer DGS will organize an annual DigiPen Game Conference — sometime in late September to early October this year. At the end of this conference, we will have a “Call for Proposals” to third-party developers. We look forward to having third-party developers coming to this conference and submitting their game proposals. DGS will also provide training on some of the Nintendo hardware and assist third-party developers to better understand Nintendo’s requirements.
As a publisher, DGS will provide business, technical, and game development mentorship and — together with Nintendo — will distribute the successfully developed titles. The role of a publisher keeps changing in this industry and DGS’ definition of its publisher role reflects how it can best act in the interests of third-party developers with the support of the MDA and Nintendo.
You may ask: ‘What motivates DigiPen in this enterprise?’
Firstly, DigiPen has been a game-industry developer for over 20 years. When we moved to Redmond, Washington, in 1997, the entire state of Washington had about nine game companies. Today, there are over 350 game companies in Washington State. We would like to see similar success and industry growth in Singapore. Secondly, by having DGS as DigiPen’s conduit to the marketplace, DGS keeps us relevant and at the cutting edge as an educational institution.
DGS is an extension of DigiPen’s classrooms to the game industry. Our lecturers, who already have industry experience, can continue as industry practitioners. Our students will benefit from learning from practitioner-lecturers, so that subjects taught are not just academic but very applicable to the industry. This will make our graduates more industry-ready. Our R&D team will be more oriented to current business practices as they venture in providing solutions that have actual commercial impact. In turn, such experiences can become feedback to make our curriculum up-to-date and relevant.
There is no doubt that our efforts will be challenging, because many of the activities are unprecedented. Nonetheless, just as DigiPen started more than 27 years in ago in Vancouver, Canada, with nothing more than just vision, knowledge, and passion, we will approach DGS with the same enthusiasm and conviction.
Before I conclude, let me also update the status of our Singapore campus. We moved into this new facility in March this year, courtesy of SIT and the Singapore Polytechnic. It is a beautiful building, and we are pleased that the aesthetics and the functionalities of this building have brought us much inspiration. Having our celebration in the lobby is a tribute to the well-thought-out design of this building.
This September, DigiPen (Singapore) expects to take in 250 new students across five degree programs. This will be our largest intake so far and bring our enrollment close to 650 full-time students.
To date, DigiPen (Singapore) has graduated about 250 students. Our graduates are well sought-after, not just in game companies but increasingly across a wider spectrum of industries such as automotive, serious games, simulation, research, special effects, etc. Several have also started their own studios. It is most gratifying and satisfying as we see our students achieve their dream careers and create products that they are proud of.
Finally, we look forward to this new development of DGS, and we are honored that all of you are here to share the joy and excitement with us.