Today started off with a lecture about development in Saigon. We looked at the history of the city, what it is like today, and where development is heading. After yesterday’s lecture on rural development in the Mekong, it was interesting to hear about urban development in Saigon. Even though the results of the rapid development appear differently, the situations are similar in that both areas are having some problems related rapid expansion that they are looking for solutions to. In the Mekong, problems stem from upstream dams that lower water levels, which makes traditional styles of farming harder. In Saigon, overcrowding is a concern. Future plans for a “smart city” are beginning to look to combat issues like a lack of affordable housing and traffic.
After language class and lunch, we went to our second site visit, Glass Egg Digital Media. This company does graphic design work for video game companies that have outsourced this part of production. As we walked around the office, we could see people designing small parts like steering wheels up to the entire car. I was on the tech crew in my high school drama club, and when I first joined, I was surprised by how many small details need to go into the props and set. Even though the audience doesn’t necessarily notice the details, they are very important because the audience would notice the lack of them. Today was interesting because it is the exact same process in terms of designing the props like the guns and the set like the track, but it is entirely digital design rather than a physical prop.
During our presentation, the COO Mr. Monier explained some of the pros and cons of being located in Vietnam rather than China where most of these types of companies are located. He explained that since there are relatively few of these companies, it is easier to retain employees because they don’t necessarily have somewhere else to go. Keeping good employees is important because they improve their skills as they stay at the company longer. These skilled employees are a key selling point for Glass Egg. However, he explained that their location can be a problem because potential clients do not always think of Vietnam as a location to look for this service. The industry seems to be expanding in Vietnam, so I wonder if these pros and cons will start to balance out. It will be interesting to see if the advantages and disadvantages of the location become comparable to those of working in China or if Vietnam is too small to ever come close to the level of competition faced by these companies there.