Cultural Glitch: Agung Wijaya, E-FunSoft
Indonesian gaming is on the rise, with an increasing number of game developers making the country’s electronic-entertainment community a force to be reckoned with. E-FunSoft is one of many such developers who have been creating video games with some clearly Indonesian touches — though the influences of their Japanese and Western counterparts are obvious. Their specialty is “casual games,” which are short, simple games often played by, obviously, casual gamers. Agung Wijaya, one of E-FunSoft’s founders, talks us through his growth from childhood gamer to developer.
How did your love of gaming come together?
I guess it began when I was still sitting in elementary school. At that time, [my friends and I] played a lot of games on our Nintendo and Sega consoles. I think I already had an inkling about wanting to create my own games then.
How did you go from wanting to create to actually creating your own games?
Actually, even during those years in elementary school, I already had a hobby of making my own toys, and also working with electronic devices [to create the toys]. So my background was really based in the process of “creating” something. Then — in line with the increasing prevalence of computers that were still relatively new in Indonesia at the time — we had a computer class in junior high school, which triggered my interest in pursuing the world of computers.
Then the Internet became a trend during my high school years. Its existence gave me lots of new references and knowledge to further explore the world of gaming and programming. I taught myself how to create video games from books and the internet.
So you had no formal education in the field of computer programming?
I only graduated high school. So, ever since 1999, I intensively self-studied the process of making video games. My first game, a word game called “Spheres 2000” was completed in April 2000.
Sometime around the year 2000, casual games started to become a trend, which was spearheaded by PopCap (a gaming company from the US), with their game “Bejeweled.” They were solid and popular, so I became intrigued and decided to make games in a similar style.
What other games would you say drove you?
When I was a child, I was very into the Sonic [the Hedgehog] games from Sega. But these days, because of our focus on casual gaming, the games that I refer to are ones such as “Sally’s Salon,” “Sally’s Spa” for “time management” types of games, and “Cradle of Rome” for “match-3”-style games, and also “Mystery Case Files” for games in the” hidden objects” genre. Today, most casual game titles belong to one of those three categories.
What is special about the titles I mentioned there is the developers are able to make a solid game with all the required elements — so the game is not only very popular, but also becomes a landmark.
How do you see the gaming industry in Indonesia developing?
I personally think that the development of the gaming industry in Indonesia is quite rapid when viewed in terms of player quantity. But the terms of the existence of local developers, it is still quite minimal. I believe that the resources exist and that there are enough people with both the technical ability and creativity to make interesting games. But perhaps the lack of information as well as the pathways and support [from the government] is still lacking.
In addition, the amount of piracy that occurs also discourages prospective developers in creating local games for local users. This can be resolved by making games for the publishers abroad. So, to prospective developers who are interested in entering the industry, I suggest they focus more on development, creating the best games with existing resources, and then handing over the distribution and marketing to companies that are more competent in doing so.
Games can be purchased at e-funsoft.com