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Gamer at work

His mother used to nag him about the amount of time he spent playing computer games. And for good reason. Mr John Tng, 26, would clock 18 to 20 hours each day in front of the computer, sleep when his eyes finally gave up on him, then start again. ¡°That was when I was an undergraduate. I even skipped school to play games,¡± he said with a sheepish smile. How he graduated with a Bachelor in Computer Engineering defies explanation, but Mr Tng did so well that he was offered a place in Nanyang Technological University¡¯s new Masters of Engineering programme. In one fell swoop, he escaped a potentially mundane career in computer programming, and got to make full use of his hobby.l The programme, a collaboration with game company TQ Global, focuses on game development. So now, even though he still plays games like Maplestory and Diablo at home, Mr Tng¡¯s mother tells his nieces not to make noise uncle is working. ¡°But it¡¯s true!¡± We have to play other people¡¯s games to learn how to create better games. Right. The inaugural batch of six students is already working on creating a brand new Xbox and PlayStation-compatible game, but is¡¯s all still very much under wraps.There were a few small hints on their computer screens when The New Paper visited. We know there¡¯s a car involved, rugged terrain, and wildlife.And the last is Mr Tng¡¯s speciality.

¡°My job is to create an AI (artificial intelligence) system that instructs the animals in the game how to behave instinctively and naturally. If they are disturbed, animals react and move in a certain way. I have to replicate that in the game.¡± Couorsemate Sundar Raman, a 24-year-old Singapore permanent resident from Chennai, India, worked for a year as a programmer. Game development, he said, is a different ballgame altogether.


¡°Everyone else is using existing technology, like java Studio and Visual Studio. NET but we are not using conventional technologies. The learning curve is very steep, and we have to learn fast. ¡°What I¡¯m doing now is much more exciting than a normal job. I¡¯ve never been much of a gamer, but ever since I started this course, I¡¯ve developed an interest,¡± he said. To make bored peers even more envious, the group have come up with game days, which are on every Wednesday and Friday from 4/30pm to whatever time they feel like going home. They don¡¯s really need specially-designated game time though, because it¡¯s perfectly fine to pick up a game controller linked to each of their workstations and fight monsters or race cars for a bit. All in the name of inspiration, you see. The students¡¯ course fees are sponsored by TQ Global, and at the end of it, they start a two-year stint with company. Hong Kong-based TQ Global, which has committed to investing $3 million over six years to train aspiring game developer, hopes to see an annual intake of 10 students a year in the next five years. The tie-up allows these NTU students the rare privilege of using Xbox360 development Kits in their research work. Mr Tng told us his parents never quite know ¡°whether I¡¯m working or playing.¡± We suspect he can¡¯t quite tell for sure either.

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