With three days and two site visits under our belts, I think everyone is beginning to adjust to the culture of Vietnam. I had a fantastic time at both site visits that we have attended, and I cannot wait to visit my “assigned” company next Monday.
This morning, we had our usual language lesson at UEF. We practiced explaining our nationality, relationship status, and occupation. I’m not entirely sure how these phrases fit into the essential knowledge category, but they are helpful to know.
We also listened to a talk this morning about the Mekong River Delta and challenges that climate change pose to the land. In 1989, the Delta started producing rice to export, and since then it has become the second largest exporting region for rice on the globe. Also, we learned that every morning on the river there are floating markets where farmers bring produce and goods out onto the river in their boats before 5am and sell to each other. The pictures of this gathering of boats were so impressive to look at, and the speech as a whole really opened my eyes to the threats of climate change around the world.
Our last stop for the day was a site visit to Glass Egg Digital Media. This was the site visit that I was most excited for prior to our trip, and it certainly did not disappoint. Glass Egg is an art production facility and game development studio which specializes in the 3D graphic design of cars and vehicles for video games. While they also create characters and landscapes, cars are much easier for them to create since they are based off of models and do not require interpretation. As we walked through the office space, every employee was hard at work on projects modeling 3D objects on what appeared to be a complex Adobe-Photoshop-esque software. The intricate detail woven into every design was unbelievable to see, but for the sake of their property we were unable to take pictures in this area. The company designs all the vehicles for games such as Need for Speed, Forza, and iRacing which I used to play a few years ago. The visit was made ever better by the CEO who loosely joked about partying with his employees and bluntly criticized other companies.
One of the largest challenges for Glass Egg as a business is finding projects to undertake. They have relationships with companies such as Microsoft and EA who offer great business opportunities, but they need new games to be created in order to have work. Another up-and-coming challenge in the local economy is the competition for labor. Glass Egg, at 18 years old, served as the only art production facility of its kind in Vietnam for almost a decade, but recently new companies have entered the market. While these new companies don’t threaten Glass Egg’s market share, they do compete for talented members of the workforce.
Glass Egg possesses a few competitive advantages by operating in Vietnam. First and foremost, they receive cheaper labor and lower cost technology than they would in the United States or Europe. Additionally, Vietnam has a very strong art and education background which allows the company to find talented domestic employees. Vietnam’s unique location on the world map offers the advantage of being fairly equidistant from most other continents and major markets which is an asset, but they also are somewhat isolated in Southeast Asia which can be a drawback. They also experienced challenges in terms of being the first mover in the region in their industry. As the company looks to grow in the future, they have considered expanding operations both to Northern Vietnam and outside of the country, but thus far they have continued to expand within Ho Chi Minh City.
I thoroughly enjoyed my entire experience with Glass Egg and I was amazed by their incredibly precise artwork and detail. I have been extremely engaged with everything we have learned thus far on our trip, and I cannot wait to see what the rest of it brings!