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Youth of the week: Sor Seanghong & Sor Seangheng

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Our student of the week will receive a $50 voucher from Boston Books. If you want to nominate a student or friend, email lift@phnompenhpost.com

Playing computer games is easy, but making them takes years of work. At the age of 16, Sor Seanghong was already researching flash software programmes and figuring out how to create the interactive animation needed to bring his ideas to digital life.

Sor Seanghong told Lift that his fascination with gaming began as a player. “I saw a cartoon game made in flash animation and it was interesting and fantastic,” he said. “It inspired my idea to create my own game.”

Despite spending seven to eight hours a day researching and playing games over the course of two years, Sor Seanghong said he didn’t find the work particularly difficult. “I was willing to do it and I love to play games as well,” he said. “My mother occasionally scolded me for spending too much time with computers, since she couldn’t see how I would benefit, but I still did it.”

While the dream of creating his own game might have seemed silly to most teenagers, who were content to just play other people’s games or watch TV, Sor Seanghong gained the ability to produce cartoon animation and his own video games by the age of 18.

Inspired by his younger brother’s work in creating interesting animation and games, Sor Seangheng decided to learn the craft himself. “Any teenager would want to learn to make games if they saw the programme my brother was using,” he said.

Without any training at school, they began to educate themselves on how to make video games. “We were learning new things every day and building up the capacity to make increasingly better animation,” Sor Seangheng said.

It took them three to five months to make a good-looking game, according to Sor Seangheng, the older of the two.

“Good graphics take at least a month and, of course, time, budget, determination and creativity,” said his younger brother Sor Seanghong.

With years of experience under their belts the two brothers, along with another friend, established the website gamebodia.com to share their work with other people. “If we create something and it’s only played by us, it’s meaningless, said Sor Seangheng. “We made this site with the intention of sharing our work with other people.”

Since the site’s launch in 2008, they have posted a number of games and animations, along with information on how to make flash content. “I am proud to know that someone is playing my game whether they admire or criticise it,” said Sor Seangheng.

The self-taught designers and their team are now working for a web design company. “If more Khmer students and youth are interested in learning how to make games and animation, development of the field in the Kingdom will expand in the future,” said Sor Seanghong. And that would be good both for designers and any Cambodian who enjoys online entertainment.

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