Day 3: It’s All Fun and Gaming – 5/8/19

Today I started off with a delicious breakfast as always, which consisted of cooked spinach and greens, watermelon, papaya, and an orange cake. The orange cake looked and tasted similar to a donut hole. After breakfast, we went to UEF for our class on development in Ho Chi Minh. We learned that Ho Chi Minh wants to focus on artificial intelligence (AI) in order to further develop. They chose to focus on AI because it is more of a “soft” approach. If they took a “hard” approach, which indicates a focus on manufacturing, they would not be able to compete with other large manufacturing countries like China. Ho Chi Minh has an initiative called Smart City in which they want to improve education, traffic, environmental conditions, among other things all using the common thread of AI. However, this must be approached with caution because with AI, businesses and governments can easily control the general population. The plan of further development with AI also includes creating globally scalable software companies, which will allow Vietnam to gain importance on the global stage. This demonstrates Vietnam’s desire to become even more globalized. The main difference between the urban and rural development is that rural development focuses on infrastructure while urban development is focused on technology and the increase of human capital. After the lecture, we had a break where I went to a small tea and coffee shop and grabbed some iced lychee tea. After the break, we had language class, and once again, I struggled to use the correct tones and inflections in my voice. The student that taught me was so kind and encouraging; he kept saying that I was perfect and should say a paragraph about myself in front of the class. I can’t get over how encouraging, eager, and kind the students are! After language class, we went to probably the most authentic Vietnamese restaurant possible: McDonald’s (I love a good joke). It was interesting to see the different decor, which was far fancier than any in the US. It was also interesting to see some of the different food options that they had. We had pretty much American classics: burgers or chicken sandwiches and fries. I have to say I’ve been craving vegetables lately though, as I’m used to eating a lot more than I have here. We then headed to Glass Egg Digital Media for our second site visit. It was so cool to see some of the 3D car designs that people were making on their computers. The designs and the process was incredible. The artists looked at pictures of cars and copied them exactly, making very realistic looking graphics. After walking around the office, we got to learn more about the company. They highlighted some of the challenges that they face in the highly competitive gaming industry. Most of these challenges seemed to relate to their location, although there are also many benefits to operating in Vietnam. In the earlier part of the company’s history, Glass Egg struggled with character creation for firms located in different countries. This was due to the fact that there is a difference between what people of different cultures imagine certain characters to look like. Furthermore, it was hard for Glass Egg to perfect features of people with Western face features because they are different from Eastern face features. Vietnam’s globalization helped to eliminate this problem because younger generations became more internationally connected and began to study abroad, which also added more Western exposure. Another challenge related to their location is that their country is less recognizable in the industry. For example, China is one of the most popular choices for outsourcing game design work, which can make it hard for Vietnamese companies to compete. However, there is less competition in Vietnam, so they have a higher employee retention and a unique advantage. In addition, with only a few digital media firms, Glass Egg can collaborate with other firms to improve the industry together. Another challenge that Glass Egg faces is in their mobile game division. Because mobile games must be under a certain size, the company has to choose which parts to make more detailed as well as limit their character number. In order to remain competitive in their industry, Glass Egg continually trains their employees on the latest software. This ensures that they stay updated with the technology and that they grow in a controlled way. The gaming industry has also seen a large increase in demand for first-person shooter games, so Glass Egg added the design of weapons to their portfolio. However, challenges come with this as well because Glass Egg must design new weapons for the games while making them impossible to recreate in real life as a safety precaution. Another avenue of growth is the live service model of games, which changes the business model of Glass Egg. The live service model eliminates the need for a disk and allows the company to make updates, similar to apps. This will allow them to work on certain projects longer and continually improve them, thus making games last longer. Glass Egg plans to add more characters, props, cars, and other items so that their games will be continually popular. Overall, it was really cool to see Glass Egg, especially because I have seen many of their games. This past semester, I always watched my friends play APEX, which is one of the games for which they designed the characters and the guns. After our visit to Glass Egg, we headed back to the hotel to take a break before we meet the Vietnamese students for dinner and karaoke. I can’t wait to sing my heart out!

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