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Level Up KL 2018 Recap: How This Event Helps Malaysia’s Goal to be Game Industry Hub in Southeast Asia

By Febrianto Nur Anwari

This year’s event marks the fourth consecutive years of Level Up KL. How this event also can help to accelerate the growth of Southeast Asia’s game industry?


Last week from 28th to 31st October 2018, I got a chance to visit Level Up KL 2018 again. It was my second consecutive year to visit this event and to be one for the jury members of the SEA Game Awards 2018. Here are some of the recap of that event.

Level Up KL is an annual event held by Malaysia Digital Economic Corporation (MDEC) to drive the growth of the games industry in Malaysia and the region. As part of a larger five-day event, the two-day conference was held on 30th and 31st October at the Connexion Conference & Event Centre in Bangsar South. Nearly one thousand local and international delegates attended this fourth edition of the event.

level up kl 2018

“Level Up KL serves to bring awareness and validity to the potential of the Southeast Asian gaming industry,” said Datuk Yasmin Mahmood, the CEO of the MDEC. “Our sights have remained clear on driving this robust and dynamic industry, and we believe it is the time for the industry to revolutionize our games approach beyond pure entertainment,” she continued.

level up kl 2018

The five-day event was started with SEA Game Jam participated by more than 100 developers across Southeast Asia. Then, the party was continued with some workshops, a two-day conference, exhibitions, and also closed with the award ceremony that was held on the last day of the event, 31st October 2018.

level up kl 2018

“Malaysia is ready to embrace the new digital era known globally as Industry 4.0, and games development is part of that larger digital ecosystem,” said Yang Berhormat Gobind Singh Deo, Minister of Communications and Multimedia of Malaysia. “I am confident that MDEC, through its Level Up KL initiative, is on the right path to drive the Southeast Asian game business forward as an integral part of the global game industry, he continued.

More sessions, more speakers

level up kl 2018

MDEC as the organizer said that Level Up KL 2018 featured more than 85 speakers from all around the world. They shared their knowledge in two days and five different conference rooms. Definitely, this made the conference section in Level Up KL 2018 much better than last year’s event that only provided three different conference room.

level up kl 2018

level up kl 2018

The five different classes covered all about what game industry needed, ranging from talent class that gave some insight to students about what they needed to have to enter the game industry, sharing session from indie game developers, eSports scene, to the story from some game studios that work on AAA games.

level up kl 2018

level up kl 2018

level up kl 2018

With five classes available each day, MDEC as the organizer said that Level Up KL 2018 had passed the 1.000 attendances in two days. This number excludes the exhibition visitors who don’t need any conference badge because they only enjoy the game exhibition.

Exhibition to celebrate indie games’ glory

level up kl 2018

MDEC has made a big change for the exhibition section in this Level Up KL 2018. Now, the exhibition took place in a much bigger room than last year’s. In this exhibition, there were several indie game developers who exhibited their latest games to get feedback from the audience.

level up kl 2018

level up kl 2018

Some of the exhibitors were the 40 SEA Game Awards 2018’s finalists that also collected the vote for the Audience Choice Award. Others were studios under Level Up Inc, an initiative from MDEC to help new studios to grow. There were also some sponsor booths that exhibited their products.

level up kl 2018

level up kl 2018

Another major change was the attendance. Now, anyone could enter the expo room for free without any pass. Definitely, this made expo room always had its crowd, even though the conference was still taking place in another room.

It seems like they deliberately chose to hold the expo in the weekend so it can attract more people to visit and enjoy the indie games.

SEA Game Awards 2018

level up kl 2018

This year marks the second edition of the SEA Game Awards. Around 104 games were submitted from around Southeast Asia and then shortlisted to 40 games as the finalists. Then, all of the finalists join the final judging session that was held on 29th October at Level Up Inc.

level up kl 2018

The judges are the game journalists from all across Southeast Asia and the UK. The judges only have around 8 hours to try all of the game and decide the winner of each category.

level up kl 2018

There were 10 categories in SEA Game Awards 2018. Songbird Symphony from Joysteak Studios, Singapore went home with two awards. Two games from Toge Productions, Indonesia were also among the winners. Six of the winners were from Malaysian studios, such as Nightstream from Streamline Games, Re: Legend from Magnus Games, and also No Straight Roads from Metronomik who won the highest achievement, Grand Jury Award.

You can read more about the awards including the winners in our previous article.

How about the future?

level up kl 2018

In the press conference in the first day of the main event, MDEC stated that Malaysia wanted to be a hub for the game industry in Southeast Asia. To achieve that goal, MDEC already announced some initiatives to help developers to grow their business. Level Up KL 2018 was one of a good example on how they try to leverage the game developers’ skill and grow their network.

Beside that, in the press conference, MDEC also announced some of the Malaysian games that they believed can shine in the global market. Among them was Re: Legend from Magnus Games that was successfully funded from Kickstarter. There were also some debut titles from newly established game studios, such as No Straight Roads from Metronomik led by former Final Fantasy XV lead game designer, Wan Hazmer.

level up kl 2018

MDEC also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with iCandy Interactive Limited, one of the world’s leading digital entertainment companies. The MoU details iCandy’s role in promoting the adoption of blockchain technology in game-making here and providing funding to promising Malaysian-based game studios to develop blockchain games. The company recently launched the pre-sale for its upcoming blockchain-game, CryptantCrab – a made-in-Malaysia collectible game that runs on the Ethereum blockchain.

The initiatives won’t stop in there. A few days after the event, the Malaysian government also announced that they would invest RM10 million (around USD 2.4 million) to the Malaysian eSports scene in 2019. This investment would definitely give a big impact on the scene, and help Malaysia’s goal to be the hub for the SEA game industry.

level up kl 2018

The Best in Southeast Asia! Here Are The Winners of SEA Game Awards 2018

Songbird Symphony from Singapore went home with two awards. Meanwhile, two games published by Toge Productions were among the winners of SEA Game Awards 2018

“I am pleased that the ministry’s sentiment towards gaming is being shared by the industry and developers community,” said Yang Berhormat Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, Minister of Youth and Sports of Malaysia. “Hearing about the new games being announced today, I am confident we have what it takes to be the best in Asia and hopefully, we will see our Malaysian made games being played competitively at major gaming tournaments here,” he continued.

Edited by Devi

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About Writer


Febrianto is the Senior Editor of Duniaku.net and the Lead Editor of Gameprime.org. He started his career in game industry as a game journalist since 2008, and was one of the initial members of Duniaku.net since 2011. His biggest interest is local game developer scene. Currently, his mission is to spread the news about Indonesia’s game industry to both local and international game and creative industry’s enthusiast.