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Yok Chivalry (right) and the Osia Studio team
Yok Chivalry (right) and the Osia Studio team. The successful startup has few tought developers but lots of passion. Photo supplied

Osia Studio: world class mobile gaming created in Cambodia

At 24, Yok Chivalry was invited by Chuor Bunseng on Facebook to form a small mobile game studio with two other friends, Ly Song Sing and Ear Uy. Always wanting to create their own game to play, the group of young people started walking the first steps towards Osia Studio.

Mr Chivarly recalls the learning process for the project back in 2011: “While we were forming Osia Studio, we didn’t have any school training related to mobile gaming development. We didn’t have an instructor to show us how to make a game, but luckily, we live in the internet era, which has plenty of tutorials [on everything]. We learned from Youtube video tutuorials,” he said.

To make the dream come true, the Osia Studio team had to expand. They looked for people who loved being involved in gaming. “Then, we recruited people who were passionate about the game and trained them as game artists and game programmers,” said Chivarly.

Currently, they have 13 members, none of which have relevant training or education in game creation, but they have the responsibility of developing game for online and mobile use.

As of now, Osia Studio has released 13 games, most of which can be played online or on a smart phone. Some of the games they have created so far are Santa Adventure, Haunted Hut, Kravity, Asva the Monkey, Good Man Quiz and Cat Hop. Their newest game, Yak Aww came out this month.

“These games can surprise people that Cambodians can possibly make standard games,” Chivalry said. “One of our favorite games is Asva the Monkey. It got a 4.5/5 and 9/10 review by an international reviewer, which is very good, and it got 450,000 downloads. It’s a top 10 in 20 countries around the Asia-Pacific and top 1 in three countries among ASEAN.”

Asva the Monkey has also won the Special Jury Award in ASEAN Character Awards 2014, which was held in Tokyo, Japan.

Chivarly explained Asva the Monkey’s story.

A long time ago, there was a secret place, hidden deep in a forest. There, lived a peaceful tribe of monkeys. Asva was a lazy, little monkey. One day, he saw a magical light, and when he tried to touch it, he plummeted into a dark portal. Now, he is trapped in unknown, mysterious worlds. The point of the game is to help Asva get back home.

“Every player must solve puzzles in order to help Asva get back home,” he added.

The Osia Studio team spent six months developing Asva the Monkey. They started by having a game concept, including a storyline, character design, background and a map, then they moved on to game play experience, then finalized the game master plan.

Ear Uy, chief of Osia Studio, said, “In Asva the Monkey, we blend a lot of Cambodian culture into aspects of the game, such as characters, clothes and behavior. Our concept for creating the game is not just for fun, but we also bring our Cambodian culture into the modern world of online and mobile phone Apps.”

In some games, Osia Studio has hidden education methods for people. The game Good Man Quiz, for example, was created for the NGO of IPA education.

“Today in the technology era, there are plenty of platforms to educate people, as well as reduce to stress. Gaming has also become one of them, since the use of smartphones increased, mobile gaming and education application platforms have bcome closer to the user,” Uy said. “There is a trend with people using smartphones to play games and for kids to study, because educational games include sounds, visual arts and interactive animation that help capture their attention.”

The game Good Man Quiz, for example, challenges and measures the levels of gender equality and gender based violence. The quiz asks crital questions associated with gender equality perspectives, gender norms and strives to educate Cambodian men to act differently towards women, said Uy.

Both Uy and Chivarly have liked to play games since they were six and seven years old. They played with the SNES Game Console, which they continue to play until today.

“What I like about games is their storylines and game art concepts. Playing a game is just like watching a movie, except the player can control the main character,” Chivalry said.

After finishing high school, Chivalry spent five years in Reyum Art School, graduating in 2005. Afterwards, he studied finance and banking at the National University of Management until he graduated in 2009. Before joining the Osia Studio team, he worked as a designer at Naga Game Studio.

Uy studied at the National Institute of Management in the major of administration and management, then graduated with an MBA in the same field at Panhasastra University of Cambodia in 2006. Uy was a designer and a computer technician before he joined the Osia Studio team.

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