That means that the sector could be a good source of job creation …
Indeed. It is estimated that by the year 2020 there will be one million job openings related to this industry throughout the region. The data also indicate that there will only be about 400,000 qualified candidates; in other words, we are not prepared to meet that demand.
At a global level, there is a fear that machines will carry out many of the jobs we do now. But from another perspective, this means that there is and will be a high demand for professionals who know how to program these machines.
That is why we must flip traditional educational models, guiding students towards the careers that will have ample demand in the future.
And I understand that’s why we need universities to develop videogames in the region.
Bachelor’s degrees in videogame development have existed for decades worldwide, but in Latin America, only the Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico offers training in videogame development, design and programming, all in a single degree program.
Currently, professionals from other disciplines related to computing are the ones doing these jobs, thanks to specializations in video games available via executive degrees.
Moreover, just like in the cinematographic industry, the videogame industry requires multidisciplinary, highly-qualified profiles.
The development of a videogame is not a one or two-person job, it is a team effort: one needs a good script, top-notch design, programming, to develop a soundtrack, and also, to understand sales and distribution channels…
That is why it is so important to have a training platform that allows to obtain expertise in all relevant areas, and thus be able to face the industry’s complexity.
Are there figures on how the sector is like currently in Panama?
Recently, the Economic Council for Latin America put together an intersectoral roundtable in Panama that is conducting a baseline study to find out where we are at the moment. From there, the idea is to implement all necessary measures and incentives to boost the industry.
Public sector institutions such as SENACYT have a seat at the table, as well as third-sector organizations, such as the City of Knowledge and us, as an academy.
What we do know is that this is an emerging industry. Panama appears in the Newzoo ranking highlighting the 100 countries with the best estimates for global gaming revenues.
Let’s put an end to another myth: Are video games and their development still men’s business?
Let me leave you with a fact that gives us a glimpse of the answer: 90% of our professors, who come from different parts of the world, are women. Our students, who until now are Panamanians, are all men.
However, we can already see the change happening. The first Panamanian team to develop a video game sold on PlayStation is co-founded by a woman: Rita Ríos.
Having role models like Rita or our professors will surely generate a change in the paradigm. In such a powerful industry, women should not be left out.