Life for many can indeed be a very linear affair, with the daily grind and drudgery playing out in small snippets of time-lapse, which ends as soon as it begins.
However, for some, the journey is unequivocally circular, the ebb and flow of the path ending where it usually begins.
For Sukamal Pegu, Head of Publishing, India and South Asia, Riot Games, the relationship and journey with video games have been a rather curious affair. And in an exclusive conversion with Sportskeeda Esports’ Abhishek Mallick, he opens up about these aspects and shares some of his hopes and aspirations for Riot Games’ IPs in the Indian esports ecosystem.
Here is an excerpt of the conversation.
Q. Before we get into any of the Riot Games IPs, I would first like you to give our readers some insight into the very special relationship that you have with video games. As a professional, your journey leading up to Riot Games has been a rather curious (some might even say circular) one. Can you shine some light on the path that led to where you are today and the hurdles along the way?
Sukamal: Absolutely! I grew up playing games on Gameboys and the 16-bit consoles that we used to plug into our TVs to play Contra, Mario, and Donkey Kong. Parents could control my gaming hours at home, so you could say I was a little more ‘disciplined’ with my academics.
That changed when I went to college. CS 1.6 had just come out, and the whole college had outstanding LAN infrastructure. So you can pretty much guess what followed. I was gaming almost the entire time and even did some of the earliest forms of esport events in the college.
We even raised 50k INR as sponsorship for one of our college gaming events from NIIT. This was way back in 2001, mind you. The end result was that my academics suffered, and I had to overstay in college!
When I finally (managed) to graduate, I had to decide on my career choices, which was either B-school or join a tech firm. Neither interested me.
Just as I was about to say yes to a random offer, I got a call from Indiatimes.com that they were looking to start their online gaming portal and if I was interested in joining the new team. I said yes to the offer without even knowing what the package was. It was more like they were doing me a favor, and I would have said yes, even if it had no salary. Without any formal path to working in the industry available at that time, I am quite thankful that I overstayed in college. Otherwise, my path would have been very different.
After that, I never looked back, and even those stints where I was not working with a gaming company, my work was around the gaming ecosystem.
Q. What was the transition like for you when moving from Kreeda Games to Bharti SoftBank to putting in hours into your very own start-up, Marrily, and then finally, ending up with Riot Games?
Sukamal: Like I said, even when I was not working with a gaming company, my job was around the gaming ecosystem, be it helping developers monetize their mobile games, raising investment for studios, or simply spending time with developers and talking about our love for games.
The approach I took was to develop myself in layers. So, with each trend, I try to grasp its essence, learn from the best, and find something I can contribute towards. It helps stay relevant and makes us excited to get up in the morning, knowing that the day can be as exciting as we want it to be.
I believe that we can gamify a lot of our career and life path based on how we play games. We need to figure out broadly our objectives, look at the tools we have to start our mission, and simply improvise.
Q. As Head of Publishing, India and South Asia at Riot Games, what are your primary responsibilities? What is your day to day like, and what aspect of your job do you look forward to the most?
Sukamal: The primary responsibility that I have is to ensure that our players enjoy our games and service their needs.
Having come from the same background as most of our gamers, I remember how it felt when we didn’t get the attention and service from large publishers. But now, I have the opportunity to not only magnify the voice from our region but also accelerate some of the demands that have always held us back.
Day begins and ends with player sentiment. That helps me stay grounded, and I realize that our task is never finished. In between, I also try to stay connected with all our partners in the region who help build the ecosystem, and collectively, we try to unlock things that help elevate the player experience here.