Positioned at the northern end of Sumatra, Indonesia, Aceh is a special province. It has a long history of political conflict and was one of the hardest-hit provinces during the 2004 tsunami (an estimated 221,000 people killed or missing). Reconstruction and rehabilitation projects have brought more technology and communications infrastructure to the region, and the province’s capital Banda Aceh is becoming a leader in adopting Internet and information technology.
The economic growth, however, is still slow. According to the Indonesia Statistics Agency, the province’s poverty rate of 18% is the 5th highest in the country and far above the 11% national average. Its unemployment rate (2012) was 9.10%, the 3rd highest in the nation, where the national average is 6.14%.
The Aceh Cloud and Mobile Gaming Boot Camp seeks to empower young people with marketable technology skills, empower them to see the internet as a self-development tool and increase local economic growth through creative economy. The project is in line with the Strategic Plan of Creative Economic Development Indonesia 2025 about the placement of software application development and digital gaming as part of a creative economy group that has been encouraged to grow in Indonesia.
While only 15% of Indonesians have internet access, the country has 281 million mobile subscribers. A Pew Global Research study finds that 78% of the Indonesia’s population has a mobile phone. Penetration of smart phones has reached 23%, providing online capabilities where traditional infrastructure is lacking. As internet and mobile applications gain popularity, cloud gaming can offer new opportunities for local youth to be self-employed and create their own business.
The main objective of the bootcamp is to train community members in developing cloud and mobile gaming applications in multiplatform environments, such as Windows 8, Android and iOs. Several technologies are used in the context of training:
- Cloud Computing related technologies (Google Drive, Dropbox, Google App Engine),
- Game Development (Game Engines) related technologies (Construct 2, Unity, Corona, Cocos2D),
- Game Design related technologies (Photoshop, CorelDraw), and
- Multi-platform development related technologies (CoconJs, CrossWalk, Titanium, PhoneGap).
After learning technologies and concepts, participants work in groups to develop cloud and mobile game applications. In additional to technical skills on game development and design, the participants are also taught technopreneurship knowledge on startup formulation and online marketing strategies for app monetization.
The first boot camps were held 12-20 April 2014 in two cities in Aceh province. 110 Indonesians from diverse backgrounds (secondary school, high school and university students, along with some professionals) participated in the camps. At least 25 cloud and mobile game applications were developed out of the boot camp and will be put forth to compete for the Banda Aceh Madani City Award (which organizers are planning as the last stage of implementation of the project). In addition, at least five game software personal edition licenses have been distributed to support sustaining the development of the games by the community members.
The inaugural camps received the support of international organizations, nation companies and institutions and local government and communities. The camps’ success led the mayor of Banda Aceh to allocate money in its yearly city program budget for future boot camps. Bootcamp 2014 also boosted the value of Banda Aceh’s technology development programs in its community and contributed to the city’s winning of the IDSA (Indonesian Digital Society Award) 2014 by the Ministry of Information and Communication of Indonesia.