Last week was the first time I met with the game development community in Penang. I don’t think I saw anyone older than the original Everquest. But with youth comes passion. They lack experience, but not the drive to make something great. Not all of them will succeed — game development can be grueling — but the sheer number of wistful programmers and artists who adore video games is inspiring. If even half of them realize their dreams, Penang will be a game hub for the next decade and beyond.

Of course, half is a big number. And I want to stress how nascent this community is — most of them are just college kids, and some barely even that old. These guys (and girls!) will have a lot of hard lessons to learn. But it’s amazing that they are learning. Unlike my early games running in Java applets, they’re using Unreal Engine and Unity, and student versions of Maya and Photoshop — actual development tools — to craft their first experiences. Some of the older developers are even teaching the younger kids — in community meet-ups like the one I attended.

They’re like Peter Pan’s ragtag gang of Lost Boys. They’re all kids, they live on a far away tropical island, and they know they can fly. But, of course, the moment they doubt themselves, they cease forever to be able to do it. So keep believing, Penang. I believe in you too.


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