Speaker Spotlight: Farmville 2 lead designer on game design deftness and trends in India

"Game development as a career was almost unheard of back then in India."

Speaker Spotlight: Farmville 2 lead designer on game design deftness and trends in India

Pocket Gamer Connects Digital has returned once again, set to bring together some of the finest voices in the games industry and beyond. 

PGC Digital #4 takes place on November 9th - 13th. To give you a taste of what to expect, we'll regularly be publishing interviews with the speakers at the show.

The conference spans across five days and will feature a broad selection of tracks, talks and speakers, as well as various fringe events and a new and improved meeting system. For more details on PGC Digital and to book a ticket, head to the website.

Today's spotlight shines on Poornima Seetharaman, lead games designer on Zynga's Farmville 2: Country Escape. Seetharaman has been in the games industry since 2006, working on mobile titles at IndiaGames (Disney India), NetDragon, and Square Enix India, among others. She will be bringing a wealth of experience to PGC Digital #4, with a talk all about balancing in game design. Tell us a bit about your company?

Poornima Seetharaman: Zynga is a social game developer and publisher. The company primarily focuses on mobile and social networking platforms. Zynga states its mission as "connecting the world through games". Zynga was founded in 2007 with the vision that play would become one of the core activities on the Internet. They pioneered social games with the belief that if they could make games simple, accessible and social the world would start playing. Zynga is one of the leading game makers across the globe in the mobile space. 

What does your role entail?

I'm the Lead Designer for Farmville 2: Country Escape. I oversee the entire design for the game as well as set the vision for it alongside my team. Together we work towards providing enjoyable content for our players and address their problems as best as we can. Besides, optimising design process and encouraging new ideas, I also mentor junior designers and help them get to the next level of the career graph.

Why did you want to work in the games industry?

I used to create my own campaigns for Age of Empires II back in college without knowing that it was a part of game design. But as an engineering graduate, I took up a programming role in a game development firm (purely by chance). Game development as a career was almost unheard of back then in India. At that firm, I got the opportunity to try out for a game design role. I was given Dungeons & Dragons manual and remember just falling in love with the world and thus game design. 

What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into it?

Make a game. Start small. Understand the basics of what makes a game. Participate in game jams. Get an internship. 

What are your thoughts on the industry in the last 12 months?

Well, one thing is clear that with this pandemic we have the impact of games in people's lives. And that a remote work culture is something we can adapt into.

What major trends do you predict in the next 12 months?

In India, it is leaning towards Real Money Gaming (skill gaming) and fantasy/ e-sports, applied games especially for educational sectors.

Globally, cross-play / cloud gaming and streaming seem to be a trend. Also remastering of some older titles.

How has the games industry changed since you first started?

From making games for BREW and Java feature phones and dealing with operators to being able to publish a game of my own, we have definitely come a long way. Today game development has a larger foothold in India. Indie culture is growing and while it is still nascent, I hope they flourish. India has enough development potential and needs to be considered as more than an outsourcing unit.

Which part of the Connects event are you most looking forward to and why?

Looking forward to some informative talks and networking with some of the brilliant minds.

Want more?

The full conference schedule will be live very soon. Until then, we have a bunch of reasons to come along to PGC Digital #4 right here. You can also check out our other track rundowns and coverage of previous Pocket Gamer Connects conferences ahead of the event itself.

Register for Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #4 today!