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S'pore: Where games mean big business

The host of this year's World Cyber Games, Singapore kicks off its national playoffs where hundreds of gamers will fight to represent the country in the grand final this November.

SINGAPORE--Asia is where the action is when it comes to the global gaming industry, according to a top official at Singapore's technology regulator.

According to Chan Yeng Kit, CEO of Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), the global video game industry is projected to grow at 16.5 percent per annum over the next four years. Citing figures from a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), he noted that the Asia-Pacific region is expected to lead the growth in the online and wireless games markets at 45 percent and 48 percent, respectively, by 2009.

Speaking Thursday at the opening ceremony of the country's national playoffs for the World Cyber Games 2005, Chan said: "The games industry has significant impact on the infocomm industry, from programming to online distribution, from handset capabilities to broadband adoption. Games technology is also an important enabler for more 'serious' sectors such as education, training and simulation."

He noted that there are more than 60 games-related companies in Singapore, ranging from game developers and publishers, to regional online game operators. Several international game companies, such as Boonty, Real Arcade and Electronic Arts, already have a presence here, he added. Such companies are using Singapore as a base of operations to manage and distribute games to the region.

IDA, Chan said, has been promoting the country's interactive entertainment and games industry in a bid to develop the country into a regional hub where game titles can be developed, produced and distributed worldwide.

"It used to be that we play games only for fun. When it comes to finding a real job, we have to turn elsewhere," he quipped. "Today, young Singaporeans can turn their passion for games into a career with a growing and exciting game industry."

More than 600 local gamers will fight it out over the weekend for 15 places, in a team that will represent the country in the World Cyber Games 2005 Grand Final. To be held here in November, the grand final will see 800 gamers from over 70 countries converge in Singapore to vie for a share of the US$400,000 prize money.