A session at November edition of Refresh Colombo

Nazly and Aloka had invited me to do a session at Refresh Colombo sometime back. So after a busy time releasing our mobile game, it was an opportunity to go for the much talked

Colombo Ride 3D branded car

Colombo Ride 3D branded car

about tech talk event in town. With a few slides (and a few ‘Colombo Ride’ branded tshirts) in hand, I came to the Royal College Union Skills Centre in Rajakeeya Mawatha,Colombo 7.

Thanks to Isura, I was able to get the ideal spot to park my ‘Colombo Ride 3D’ branded car (after all its important to promote one’s branding in every given opportunity 🙂 ).

Ok, before I get to the in-depth details, let’s get some things cleared out. What’s this ‘Refresh Colombo’ you may ask? It’s basically an opportunity to show our countrymen (and the world) the kinds of tech initiatives carried out in Sri Lanka. From the single twenty year coding away in his bedroom to the big established IT firms, all get an equal moment to shine and be appreciated. You can read a well composed brief on how the idea for Refresh Colombo came up in Sukanti Iyne Husain‘s blogpost ‘Silicon Island‘.

So as I was saying, I reached the location 15 mins prior to the scheduled start. Chamara, the scheduled first speaker also turned up soon after and we were ready to start proceedings. Well not exactly, there was a slight delay in the start and things I guess only took off at about 6pm….

Chamara Peiris

Chamara Peiris (Photo credit - Malinthe)

So Chamara gave his presentation on ‘benefits of web standards to your visitors, your clients and you!’. It was an interesting lecture with lots of details that would be helpful for anyone wanting to create a sustainable machine friendly website. Maybe a lesser number of slides might have been better suited but I guess it wasn’t easy to compromise since all points mentioned were vital.

Devaka Randeniya

Devaka Randeniya (Photo credit - Malinthe)

Second up was Devaka who gave an insight into the work that is undertaken by WSO2. His presentation highlighted that anyone with a clear vision can create a world recognised company like what Dr. Sanjiva had accomplished with his humble beginning at IBM and moving onto form his own company.

So two presentations out of the way, it was chance for me to go up and see if I could say something useful for the crowd to take back home. So with laptop bag on one hand and a few ‘Colombo Ride 3D’ branded tshirts in the other, I went in front of the crowd. The topic on discussion for my session was ‘Creating Games in Sri Lanka and the Optimistic Entrepreneurial Spirit’.

Given the opportunity, I lean towards having some fun with my audience from beginning till end. So this was such an opportunity and I thought of using the start to give away some tshirts to a lucky few from the crowd. So mentioning and highlighting on the ‘optimism’ part of my topic, I requested 3 volunteers to step forward to sit in the vacant 3 chairs. Naturally, I didn’t get the most enthusiasm from the crowd straightaway. About a min passed before 3 brave individuals (@TeagueGray, @ahamednizar & @SabreenRZ) stepped forward and sat in front of the crowd. Was I going to pull coins out of their ears? Hardly. They had no idea why they were called up for, but they were brave enough to face any situation. So without a moment’s hesitation, each of them were rewarded for their bravery with tshirts 🙂 That was it. With a cheer from the crowd, I began my presentation.

Audience getting tshirts

Audience getting tshirts (Photo credit - Malinthe)

Saradiel PC game

Saradiel PC game

So the slides began with a very brief history of games highlighting  ‘Computer Space’ and Atari’s involvement in the gaming industry. The slides quickly moved to the present day and highlighted some of the most common devices that is used to play games. From the mobile phone to the Xbox. Then some insights were given as to why we selected to start creating for the mobile as our primary device. Stats on the game were also mentioned to the crowd.

With a few slides out of the way, it was a good time to show a brief history of Colombo Ride.  (I couldn’t but help think whether I could have saved about 4 mins by not showing the trailer since most had seen it already I would assume). After taking a small break from my session, I was back on my feet and talking to the crowd about things we do apart from creating mobile games. And so a brief mention about our upcoming PC game ‘Saradiel’. I think more people were excited about the PC version of ‘Colombo Ride 3D’ and hopefully we would be able to launch it in 2011.

Creating games for mobile phones and PC was a good start if I say so myself. With a brand well known it was time to make ourselves heard on other media such as Facebook and the Apple devices (iPod touch, iPhone, iPad). So the road ahead for GTS Gamestudios were announced.

Creating games isn’t that difficult. As my brief article explains, anyone can create a first person shooter game in about 20 mins flat if they really wanted to. However it is important to have a clear design for the game, and  ensure that the business model is solid. Then it is necessary to balance the business end of things and the creative end of things.

Part of the audience (Photo credit - Malinthe)

Part of the audience (Photo credit - Malinthe)

Ok enough being serious, it was time to enlighten the crowd that it wasn’t just about creating games that we are in, its about creating an overall entertainment to the user. With that, the music video for Colombo Ride was shown to the audience (yes, it was not officially launched to the public prior to this, so a bit of an exclusive for the audience 🙂 ).

You would think that would be the end of my session, well there was just 1 more matter to get out of the way before I sat down to conclude. Just as it was in the beginning about showing people about being optimistic, I thought of playing out a trick that I read in Michael Michaelowicz’s book ‘ The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur.

So after a brief mention highlighting that each of them could be multi-millionaires (or billionaires) if they grab the opportunities that are thrown towards them, I lifted a 1000 rupee note. For any big plan it was necessary to break it into small chunks so that the mind can focus each step of the way. Similarly, an opportunity to be 1000 rupees closer towards that billionaire mark 🙂

Just like what Michael’s audience faced, it took a bit of time for the audience to get at what I was offering. A few hands raised when I inquired ‘Who wants this 1000 rupee note?’.  Raising hands wasn’t enough, someone had to come and just take the money that was being offered.

Maybe it was a trick and a moment for embarrassment, but an opportunity nevertheless. That was the key lesson in this trick.

So after about 3-4 minutes, one individual (Venura) stepped forward and grabbed the opportunity to walk away 1000 bucks richer.

Venura walks off with the 1000 note

Venura walks off with the 1000 note (Photo credit - Malinthe)

So with that ended my session about creating games and showing that with a positive mind that is not afraid, anything and any goal is possible. That is the optimistic spirit required by all entrepreneurs. (stating the obvious I feel)

Unfortunately, due to the late start and the presenters (including myself) taking a bit longer than scheduled, it didn’t allow time for the 4th scheduled speaker (Milinda) to take the stage. Hopefully he will get the chance in the December edition 🙂

A big thanks must go to the organisers for allocating the space for us to give our 2 cents to the rest.

Official photographer during event: Malinthe Samarakoon

Official twitter updater during event: Indulekha Nanayakkara (via @refreshColombo account)

2 Responses to “A session at November edition of Refresh Colombo”
  1. Dakshina says:

    Looks like a nice event. Missed previous sessions. I will try my best to attend to December edition. Thank you very much for this wonderful post.

  2. isura says:

    Super capturing of the event ! Great style of writing. So informative !

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