On November 4th 2023, Virtual SEA worked with Hobby Horizon: Beyond to bring Southeast Asian indie game developers and their games to the bombastic two-day convention at Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
THE VIRTUAL SEA INDIE KAMPUNG
Past the lively art markets, fascinating table-top game exhibitions, and colorful crowds of cosplayers, one could find the Virtual SEA Indie Kampung playing host to 16 indie game titles from all over Southeast Asia – let’s take a look at the booths and some of the proud developers who came to showcase their games!
OF FUN AND THE FORTHCOMING: WHAT’S NEXT?
Because it was situated between more prominent video game-related attractions, the indie game area at Hobby Horizon: Beyond might have seemed too small to be celebrated at first glance. However, its presence was still a tremendously important factor in the growth of awareness and appreciation for game creators not only in Vietnam but also in Southeast Asia as a whole.
In this era of instantaneous digital information, aspiring independent game developers struggling to cultivate an audience for their games face the great challenge of staying relevant. The swift pace of trends and activity online has the potential to submerge a small studio’s promotional efforts, with dev logs, feature spotlights, and general online activity at risk of quickly fading amidst the relentless influx of content on social media.
Events and conventions like Hobby Horizon: Beyond that feature spaces for independent games help game developers form more meaningful interactions with people within and outside their target audience. Direct communication between people interested in indie games and their developers allows them to share the story behind their creations, building deeper connections with potential players and raising awareness about their game.
For those who attended Hobby Horizon: Beyond, this could mean not only learning about cool, new, and upcoming game development studios in Southeast Asia but also about the culture and real-life experiences that inspired and are celebrated in the games they create. In the present, many Southeast Asian developers might worry about the potential hit to their game’s reach and sustainability due to an underappreciated theme or aesthetic based on their local cultures or histories, which emphasizes the importance of this exposure to culture and personal experience through real, memorable interactions, as it could help pave the way to a future where these creators are more free to express and include elements of their own culture in games.
However, to reach an audience isn’t the only struggle our Southeast Asian indie devs have to endure. In the face of the continually transforming landscape of the game development industry, indie game developers must dare to innovate and challenge established norms in their games to stand out among their peers more easily.
Though one would expect indie games to be more designer-driven as a result, many, if not all, of the indie game devs who came to Hobby Horizon: Beyond still had to learn to compromise the fun in creating a game they love and the sustainability and reach they could find in considering current trends that make successful games popular among their target audience, however different that may be from what they had planned on the drawing board.
Despite this, the state of indie game development in Southeast Asia is marked by a surge of growth in activity and interest. Countries like Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, The Philippines, and Vietnam have become game development hubs. With continued support and more accessible information on modern game development, marketing techniques, and processes, more and more developers from these and other Southeast Asian countries will make themselves and their games known in the game development space.
Hobby Horizon is but one of many events where Southeast Asian games are given enough time in the spotlight to leave meaningful impressions on both enthusiastic supporters and curious bystanders alike. These events serve not only as a space to enjoy these games in the present but also as a celebration of the hard work of the individuals behind them and as a launch pad from which they can reach greater heights.