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Game on for tech champion

Game development studio Osja's Ear Uy, 30, known as Louis, pictured with co-founder and art director Chivalry Yok
Game development studio Osja's Ear Uy, 30, known as Louis, pictured with co-founder and art director Chivalry Yok, 27. SCOTT HOWES

Game on for tech champion

Softly spoken and with a self-effacing demeanour, you might not realise that Ear Uy (otherwise known as Louis) is a man very much in demand.

With invitations to attend technology conferences and exhibitions from Tokyo to the US embassy in Phnom Penh, and all the way to America’s Silicon Valley – all while running Cambodia’s first game development studio – Louis certainly has enough to keep him occupied. And that’s just his schedule for the next two months.

Louis’ visit to the States was only added to his bursting agenda two weekends ago, when he was selected as one of five winners of DEMO ASEAN 2013.

The two-day event, which took place in Ho Chi Minh, seeks to connect IT and tech entrepreneurs with investors, and to garner exposure for exciting new products within the industry.

Both start-ups and established companies are welcome at DEMO ASEAN, which features international panellists and speakers, including the country manager of IBM Vietnam and the senior vice president of DEMO.

While DEMO has been going strong for 22 years in its native US, this was the first time the event took place in an ASEAN country and it attracted some 100,000 visitors.

The co-founder of Phnom Penh-based game developers Osja Studios, Louis had just six minutes to pitch the company’s games to the 600-strong audience of conference attendees. In total, there were 37 entries, and Louis was the only Cambodian on the list.

Chatting with me at Brown Coffee on a Sunday morning, the game designer is modest about his newly found recognition and seemingly unflappable. Computer games are still a largely unexplored market for Cambodian developers, he says.

“For Cambodia it [game development] is new, but for other countries it’s not really new for gaming, and the event is more focused on innovative products. I was just focusing on introducing more [of] the company, what we’re doing and what we’d like to expand,” he says.

When we meet he is sporting a navy blue T-shirt branded with the name and logo of Osja Studio’s most successful game to date, Asva The Monkey, which has gained more than 130,000 downloads across the globe. It’s the same T-shirt he wore when presenting the company at DEMO ASEAN 2013, along with the traditional Cambodian krama.

As the only Cambodian taking part, does he feel a sense of responsibility as an ambassador for the country?

“Sometimes I think that because we’re the only ones I try to introduce Cambodia to them. I also speak some Cambodian on the stage – just something to introduce us,” he says.

Along with the four other winners he will be heading to the US in October for DEMO Fall 2013.

“Over there [in the States] there’s innovative stuff, so I’m not trying to compete with everyone, I’m just trying to show what we have and what we do and what we want to do. Over there they’ve got everything,” Louis says.

Aside from foreign travel there is yet more excitement from the Osja camp. The game developers plan to venture into the realm of social gaming, a la Candy Crush, and to release a new game within the next few months.

For now, all Louis will reveal is that the game will stick to a “Cambodian” theme. Whatever successes and opportunities may present themselves Louis is resolute in regard to his mission at Osja Studios.

“The most important thing is I get to show our games to the world, and at the same time I can connect with publishers around the world.”

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