Donald, McDonald’s, and Digital Art

After a fun night out with some Vietnamese students and every student here from Pitt, I woke up this morning without an alarm to the hustle and bustle of the streets of Saigon. Going down for breakfast, I was not very excited to work with my group on questions for Glass Egg Digital Media for later in the day. But with yet another bowl of Pho in my stomach, coming up with interesting and intriguing prompts for those who work there.

First stop of the day was UEF again, where Donald, an economics researcher at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. (shout out IL whoop whoop!) He talked about both his and the country’s history and development into what it is today. He was a little hard to follow as he tried to cover many different topics at the same time, but he helped me see how the government of Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City are working to launch the country into a competitive global economic force.

After Donald’s lecture, another Vietnamese language lesson followed. Tôi là sinh viên. I am a student. We learned how to ask and tell people about our occupations and nationalities, as well as familial relationships. Every lesson gets harder, but also more interesting and I am very excited to see how much I will be able to speak by the end of the two weeks.

Once our lesson finished and we said tạm biệt (goodbye) to our teacher, I had no idea where the bus was headed to take us to lunch. As we drove around the city, my stomach growling, I was waiting to see what interesting Vietnamese cuisine I would get to try today. To my surprise we pulled up to a McDonald’s. Interestingly enough, it was actually like a real mid teir restaurant. We sat down and had our burgers and fries taken to us and as someone else said, it actually looks like the pictures on the menu. It tasted far better than a Mickey D’s at home too. Leaving, slightly disappointed I hadn’t tried something new but also pleasantly surprised at the quality, we finally headed off to Glass Egg.

Loading off the bus, we waited in the Ree Tower lobby for a few minutes while the elevators came to take us up to the 17th floor. This company is SO COOL. As an overview, they are an art outsourcing company for some of the biggest video games on the market today. They’ve provided work for all of the Need for Speed and Forza games, as well as Apex Legends, Titanffall 2, and Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII. Starting with a tour, a guide showed us around their studio, which houses 282 artists working on design projects right in front of our eyes. The most interesting part of their 3 floor studio, was the one section of 15 employees who actually work for another company founded by the COO of Glass Egg, Tirawa Game studios, which develops its own mobile games, mostly targeted for younger and casual audiences. Once the tour ended, the COO of Glass Egg, Guillaume Monier, gave us the presentation that he normally gives to potential clients, such as Microsoft, Treyarch, EA and dozens of others. The studio has been partnered with Microsoft for over 15 years.

Glass Egg has a unique position in the outsourced video game art market, since they are the largest and oldest company of its kind in Vietnam. While Glass Egg has established loyal clients, because of their high quality work, they still try to secure new ones. Many new clients default their outsourcing to China, since the market there is so saturated, but Glass Egg’s impressive portfolio of strong technical skills and experience make them an attractive option for potential clients. While Glass Egg itself does not develop any new software, they do have projects with deadlines and revisions. One major benefit of being located 10 time zones away from the game developers in Silicon Valley is that they can deliver a product at the end of a day, the client reviews it and sends revisions back at the end of its day, and then Glass Egg has revisions waiting for it by the time work begins the following morning. Mr. Monier was such an eloquent presenter and interesting guy that I was a little sad when our time at Glass Egg came to a close and it was time to head back to the hotel.

But with returning to the hotel comes getting ready for some local dinner and a night at the Karaoke bar! I cannot wait to see what kinds of songs I can belt out with the Vietnamese students who are taking us.

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