|Colomba Wate |
By. Pasan Fernando
The launch of the first ever Sinhala mobile game 'Colomba Wate' took place recently. In this interview the Managing Director of GTS (www.gtslk.com), W.G.T. Fernando talks to the Daily Mirror about the innovative game and its future potential.
Q: How did you come up with Colomba Wate?
"Colomba Wate" aka "Colombo Ride" was one of my dreams that became a reality. The idea sparked when I wanted to play a mobile game with a local flavour, however there was no such games in the market. Therefore I took the initiative to draft such a game and Colombo Wate was the outcome.
Q: What is 'Colomba
Colomba Wate is a game where the gamer plays the character of a taxi driver. The game's role is to pick and drop passengers in their journeys. The best part about the whole game is that the gaming environment is almost identical to a map of Colombo. We identified the prominent roads that we could use to promote Colombo to the world and focused on the roads that had a high density of commercial properties. There are over 50 roads present in the game. One of the best features of the game would be the fact that it is provided free to anyone who wants to use it.
Q: Is there any commercial value in this product?
Most Certainly! With the real roads embedded into the game it is possible for the real companies in those roads to place their buildings in the game to promote their business. To be fair, we have also allowed companies that are not present in Colombo to advertise in the game. We had a fair amount of responses from companies in and around Colombo for this version and we already have companies inquiring about advertising placements for the next release of this game in January 2009.
Q: When everything is sold at a premium these days, why did your company decide to give this game for free?
Bill Gates recently reiterated about 'Creative capitalism' where "it is necessary for corporations that have the skills to make technological innovations work for the masses. An attempt to stretch the reach of market forces so that more companies can benefit from doing work that makes more people better off" I believe that in order to promote this game, we need to make it convenient to the consumer as much as possible and not everyone has the capability to pay for such a game. Our revenue is solely made by the companies that wish to advertise with us in the game.
Q: Was it smooth sailing since you started or did you have any obstacles to overcome?
With no previous research conducted in this area but with a solid plan, we went about researching the gaming penetration and creating the entertaining game. The first problem we came across was in keeping the game to a minimum size. To comply with this restriction, we had to remove certain features of the game, such as the number of sound clips and the number of roads we could embed into the game. GTS employs a team of highly skilled people (past students of mine from the Faculty of Information Technology, University of Moratuwa). With dedication and a passion for perfection, we were able to produce this unique game.
Q: You mentioned sound clips. What kind of sound clips do yon have and what is the reason behind including them?
Sound clips put the icing on our product. Let's say the gamer is playing the game and sees a passenger in Galle Road. When the gamer picks up the passenger a sound clips is played in Sinhala telling where the passenger needs to be dropped. For example, we have one sound clip saying 'Mawa Thurstan Pinum Thatakaya lagin aralawanna' (Please drop me near the Thurstan Swimming pool). This adds value to the game as it gives a sense of added entertainment to the gamer.
Q: Can you tell us more about the game and its objectives?
The objective of the game is to take the passengers to their destinations, earn their hire, pay for petrol and other day to day activities. We organized a competition to select 10 top gamers with the highest scores. To be eligible for the competition a person should register on our website www.games.lk. In the game there is an option where the gamer can choose to submit their high score to enter the competition. The same username used in registration is needed to be submitted when submitting the score. This way, we are able to contact the person via email since the registration has the authentic email of each user. The top were selected on the 23rd August and had a chance to battle it out for the top 3 places during the Awards ceremony event.
Q: You must be thrilled to see your efforts reach its peak?
Yes, I am very proud of my team. A lot of dedication went into creating this product. There were times when we would work from 8am till 6am the next day! On the days prior to the launch we had spent 2 days at a stretch but it was all worth it in the end. Special effort and hard work was undertaken by Devinka Andrahamiadi - senior developer, Namal Fernando - creative designer and Amila Mendis - website developer.
Q: GTS can be considered the pioneers of mobile gaming in Sri Lanka. What is you view on the future for the mobile gaming industry to expand in Sri Lanka?
We honestly cannot predict the future, but we should prepare for it. We have a tremendous pool of talent in our country and must decide what we can do with it. Are we going to sell out our talent to foreign countries or going to use that talent to help our country reach its true potential. I honestly hope that people will use this game as an example and come up with even better ideas for mobile games in Sri Lanka. GTS is already working on the 2nd Sinhala game 'Aba Keliya' for Jackson Anthony's historic film 'Aba' which is creating new records in the film industry. It will also be the first film in Sri Lanka to have a mobile game based on the film.
Monday, September 8, 2008
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