A student from the Computing in Civil Engineering Program at the University of Talca launched a small venture 14 years ago aimed at creating video games: Micropsia Games. Today, the company, which has already consolidated its position in both the domestic and international markets, has just become an official developer for the Japanese video game and entertainment console giant, Nintendo Co.
Marco González, who is currently a professor of the Engineering in Video Game Development and Virtual Reality Program at the University of Talca, is the founder of this company, which, even though it had already signed other important contracts in the past, is now joining the major leagues of video game development and production worldwide.
“The opportunity with Nintendo began with the signature of an agreement to reach the Japanese market between ProChile, the governmental institution in charge of promoting Chilean exports of goods and services, and VG Chile, which is the trade union association of companies in the field of video games. Through this agreement, we were able to access the Nintendo development kit, making us the first country in Latin America that has this possibility,” says González, adding that this implies that the Chilean company can carry out trials and tests using the real console of the world-renowned video game company where Mario and Luigi have delighted children, teenagers, and adults since 1977.
“Two months ago we began the paperwork so that our company could become a supplier, since they have a high access barrier and we managed to be accepted. We are now in the process of obtaining the code for the Nintendo Switch console, specifically for our game ‘The Watchmaker’, which is currently available for PC,” highlights the creator and professor of UTalca.
Francisco Quilodrán, business developer of Micropsia Games, further detailed that in 2020 they hope to release the game for Nintendo Switch. “We are working with a publisher from Spain and hope to achieve this during the third quarter,” he says.
González stresses the importance of the University of Talca in promoting this program and this field. As an alumni and current professor, he points out that the University of Talca is a pioneer in this field, offering the Engineering in Video Game Development and Virtual Reality Program, making it the only State-owned University that has a specific academic degree in the video game arena.
The program is taught at the Talca Campus of the University, where students have top-notch infrastructure in terms of laboratories and disciplinary areas. Students can access a double degree program with internships at the University of Girona and, in addition, they can choose other exchange programs provided by the University of Talca with over 150 foreign institutions.
Maule and the video game industry
The idea of González, and other professionals, is that the Maule Region can be recognized nationally and internationally not only as an agricultural zone, but also as a development hub for the video game industry.
Pablo Rojas, director of the School of Engineering in Video Game Development and Virtual Reality, points out that UTalca’s commitment to this field is deep and, in addition to empowering companies such as Micropsia Games, the institution is simultaneously participating in the development of a sectoral plan in the Maule Region, with the support of ProChile.
“This will allow companies in this creative industry from this region to access funding to attend international events that facilitate the promotion of video games,” says the professor.
Jaime Rivera, Chile’s commercial attaché in Japan and ProChile’s Asia Coordinator, highlighted the leadership of the University in this field. “The University has had very good opportunities to communicate with companies in Japan, discussing new ways to adapt program curricula in alignment to what is happening in the world. Things are different today than in the past, when academic programs used to offer the same course for 20 years. Nowadays, technologies are advancing at the speed of light, and based on that, knowledge must also be constantly updated,” he says.
“What the University of Talca is doing is unique, they are leaders. That’s why we have an important nexus with the Engineering in Video Game Development and Virtual Reality Program. There is very rich talent in Chile and having a University that is able to guide that talent will most certainly generate more companies in the region and in the country,” says Rivera.
In addition, he points out that video game exports in Chile account for approximately US$8 million. “I think we can reach US$50 million over the next five years and that requires talent, which the University of Talca is developing,” he says.
The Regional Director of ProChile for the Maule Region, Julieta Romero, said she is very happy “because Maule is known for being a very powerful region in the fields of fresh fruit and wines, but within our efforts under the framework of ProChile 3.0, the services and creative industries sector is also showing a very strong development. The University of Talca has a degree in Engineering in Video Game Development and Virtual Reality, which means that we have talented individuals that are being trained in regions outside of Santiago. We must provide support and implement instruments to reach global markets from the Maule Region.”