Undergraduate Focus: From crime fighting to role playing
Forensic Computing: Any mention of the word ‘forensic’ and what comes to mind are the likes of CSI and Dexter. Forensics, however, is not just confined to gory murders and lifting thumbprints off bathtubs. With more crimes being committed digitally, like money laundering, online frauds and the such, forensic computing has gained a prominent spot in uncovering crimes.
Although relatively unknown, a career in forensic computing is not a new field. In fact, it has been around for some time, especially in developed countries like the US. With the rising cases of computer fraud, identity theft and other Internet crimes, this sector is starting to become quite an important part of security and investigation in the computer and technological industry.
Forensic computing is a branch of computer science that deals with the lawful data retrieved from computers that can be used as evidence. It is an integration of computer science and technology with criminology and law. Computers, storage devices and gadgets are basically used in order to locate and analyse data, which would ultimately be tracked to its source and used to solve the crime at hand.
For those interested in obtaining a degree in forensic computing, courses are quite limited in Malaysia. A few private institutions are offering this course, but to our knowledge, none of the public institutions have it. In general, students would need to have completed a diploma in a related course or a pre-university course. Those who take STPM would need at least two passes. This programme would take about three years or six semesters to complete.
A student undergoing this course would first need to familiarise themselves with the basics of computing and technology. During the later stages, they will learn about the investigative aspects of computing, like how to trace and recover data, in addition to the legal issues related to the cyberworld.
Currently, graduates in this field are able to obtain employment at law enforcement agencies, military and government agencies, private security companies or consultancies as investigators, managers and even consultants. Fresh graduates can expect a salary of about RM3,000 but with more experience, their salary can go up to RM5,000.
The field is not such a big one in Malaysia, as compared to the US, but the increase of crimes that take advantage of the technological advancement seems to predict that this field may not be that uncommon in the future after all.
Game design: Games have been evolving at a fast pace, as have their mediums of play. The rising popularity of the gaming industry has created a need for more designers in the field as the latest games and technology require more creative minds.
Game designing requires a lot of work. Working as a game designer, one has to expect to be involved in all stages of the game’s production, from its planning up to the final product’s release. There are a lot of aspects in a game that needs to be worked on – the gameplay, storyline, character designing, programming and software development, music and sound as well as the graphics.
Game designing is still a growing field in Malaysia, though in the United States and Europe it has become a highly marketable field. Established game companies such as Blizzard Entertainment and Ubisoft profit tremendously from games like World of Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed.
The job of a game designer requires a lot of passion and dedication as games nowadays require a lot of time and effort just to design one level. Game designers work overtime most of the time to meet deadlines. Though technology has developed to the point where there is software that eases the work of a game designer, new games require more work especially in the graphics department and working on specific characters and levels takes months to complete.
Besides being highly dedicated to their jobs, game designers are required to have good management skills. Games delayed from its original release dates might affect sales greatly and it is up to game designers to produce the needed product before its due date.
Though Malaysia’s gaming market is still slow, it is picking up pace as public awareness in this field is growing. There are more and more companies in this field being established and games are gaining traction for people of all ages. The field of game design is slowly booming in Malaysia and we will be able to see its full potential in a few years.
Animation: Animation has become a part of our digital lifestyle. Whether we watch films or advertisements in the cinema, at home or on the street, animation is in every digital media. Animation has come a long way with the use of computer generated imagery (CGI) technology. Malaysian animation began in 1946 through the establishment of the Malayan Film Unit which is called Filem Negara now. The first ever short animation was Hikayat Sang Kancil, which was screened in 1983 and led to other animations through its success. The long-form animation industry came in 1994 and led to the promotion of locally animated TV series. Nowadays, graduates in the animation field do not only get the opportunity to work locally but overseas as well.
An animator is given a lot of tasks to do on a daily basis. They are responsible for creating characters, drawing storyboards, creating models, designing an animated environment, creating frames, matching timing of the animation, script and sounds as well as liaising with clients to develop and pitch ideas.
There are different kinds of software used in creating animated media – Maya, Softimage, Dreamweaver, Lightware and others. Besides working during normal working hours, most animators out there work extra hours to meet their deadlines as the amount of work they are supposed to do takes a lot of time.
The job of an animator is very flexible as they have the choice of working part-time or freelancing besides a fulltime animator job. With all the responsibilities that an animator has to have, must possess good management, communicating and computer skills besides the required creative talent.
Though animation has become a huge industry in developed countries, Malaysia is slowly increasing its attention towards the animation field – animation successes like Upin dan Ipin, Kacang and Saladin come to mind. Despite increasing efforts to improve the animation industry in Malaysia, most animators tend to work overseas for higher pay and job satisfaction. This is due to the fact that animators are paid quite low locally, about RM1,000 to RM3,000.
Animation in Malaysia challenges the most dedicated and passionate people in the field. However, with hard work and patience, an animator will soon be acknowledged as talented and successful, and will be able to reap the rewards.