Sitting in his small production studio situated in his flat in Phnom Penh’s Boeung Tompun district, Piseth Chhourm makes small adjustments to the music that will provide the soundtrack for his soon to be released online game.
Chhourm is the director of DirexPlay, one of the Kingdom’s better known games development firms.
He established the company five years ago along with his three siblings, Rothana Chhourm, who is character and animation artist, Visal Chhourm, who acts as the programming artist, and Malis Roeun, who is the environment and design artist.
DirexPlay’s best known release is action title Jailbreak, the eponymous game based on Italian director Jimmy Henderson’s 2016 Cambodian blockbuster. Upon its release, it became the first game in the Kingdom’s history to be based on a film.
DirexPlay pipped 37 other local candidates – including start-ups, private sector firms, NGOs and public service institutions – to win first place at the 2017 Cambodia ICT Awards for their work on the mobile game.
“We won the first place for Jailbreak after we received a lot of positive feedback following its release. At that time, we got more than 100,000 downloads in just three months,” 30-year-old Chhourm tells The Post.
Chhourm believes that DirexPlay’s games are so successful as they strive to incorporate Cambodian identity and culture into their products.
Inspired by Nintendo
Born in 1989 in Siem Reap province, Chhourm recalls a childhood of classic gaming, rushing home from school as a boy to play Rambo on his Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).
He first gained access to the internet in 2005 when he went to study at 10 Makara 1979 High School in Siem Reap city, saying it was a pivotal time for him as “he started to get very interested in technology”.
After graduating from his civil engineering degree at Siem Reap’s Build Bright University in 2010, he boldly decided to leave his family and move to Phnom Penh looking for work, taking up jobs as a consultant with several IT Companies.
But in 2014, with all his siblings about to graduate university, Chhourm saw an opportunity to break into the industry he first fell in love with as a boy.