The gaming industry has experienced unprecedented growth over recent years, as more people show interest in the sector, either as players, game developers, event organisers or in any other related areas.

This rapid growth has also been evident in Malta, as was seen through the success of Playcon 2022, the game development and esports expo with the aim of showcasing what the industry has to offer. The event, which was organised by GMR and supported by Gaming Malta and the Ministry for the Economy, European Funds, and Lands, was first held in 2019, and after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, it returned at the MFCC in Ta’ Qali earlier this month.

Following the event, GMR Director Kersten Chircop took to social media to highlight the rise in local interest in the gaming industry through two very contrasting images that show the difference in attendance between GMR’s first event back in 2012, and this year’s Playcon, “exactly 10 years apart”.


GMR's first event in 2012 / LinkedIn

Speaking to, Mr Chircop, who is also Vice President at Malta Esports Association and Director at The Gamers Lounge, explained that since Playcon coincided with the anniversary of GMR’s first event, he felt it was the “right time” to share it to illustrate the difference that 10 years make.

The drive in Mr Chircop to host gaming events did not just emerge out of the blue, as like many others in the industry, he has been interested in videogames since he was a child. “I even competed in Call of Duty LAN parties when I was just 13-14 and through them I met plenty of my current friends. I played because I liked gaming and the hobby as a whole. I always wanted to stay involved in the industry and as a result of a project during my studies at MCAST, I started GMR with two partners,” he explained.

“Eventually in 2012, we decided to host our first event, and the response was very good. After five years, we took the decision for it to become our full-time job,” Mr Chircop added.

After years of organising multiple events, GMR opted to launch Playcon in a bid to address the lack of a local gaming convention. “The more we hosted events, the more we noticed that the industry is transforming at an international level. We noticed a gap in terms of expos and conventions that focus on gaming in Malta, as one had to go abroad for an event like Gamescom for example,” Mr Chircop said.

“We wanted to create an event that was purely directed towards gamers, and so we came up with idea,” he continued.

Playcon 2022

Playcon 2022 / LinkedIn

The aim of the convention remains to “expose the public to the gaming industry”, and during the first day of this year’s event, there were career opportunities as gamers and developers, “indicating the growth of the industry in Malta”. “There are a number of videogame studios opening in Malta, and an event like Playcon shows the potential of the industry,” he remarked.

Mr Chircop added that 5,000 students from primary and secondary schools attended, and they were shown “what the gaming industry, along with other related ones like technology, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and more, have to offer”. On the other hand, Saturday and Sunday were more tailored to families, and during those days, “it was more about competitions and having fun”. On the whole, there was “very good feedback” for the whole event.

GMR was originally formed as part of a hobby, and its founders used to meet during the evenings and through “the little time” they had, they used to see how to coordinate events. Following positive feedback, especially since it was “the only organisation to host such events at the time”, the company continued to grow and host even more events, Mr Chircop explained. “Over time, we noticed that the industry could sustain our employment, and we made the decision to switch to full-time and focus on growing our company,” he added.

Since then, GMR has grown to a team of five that are almost all working on a full-time basis, while at large-scale events like Playcon, “there are around 15 core team members, and a total of around 70 for the whole team, tasked with refereeing, media, managing competitions, and other responsibilities,” he said.

When asked about the general public’s perception of gaming and esports in Malta, Mr Chircop said that while he feels a change has taken place, “there needs to be more”.

“Over the last few years, the industry has been taken more seriously, both by the Government and the general public. Today, the mentality has changed a lot, especially when speaking to marketing managers for example, with them being younger. There has been a change in generation, and through this, the gaming industry is becoming much more respected, as various people are either gamers themselves, have children that are gamers, or else are aware of the industry’s importance,” Mr Chircop explained.

He remarked that gaming is “no longer considered as just a hobby”, which has “greatly helped” the way Playcon is treated, with both local and international companies being involved, indicating “a change in mentality about the industry”.

However, Mr Chircop added that there is still much more to be done in the industry, as he hopes that “more companies open in Malta, like what happened in the iGaming sector”, since there is a “great deal of potential”, especially with “our infrastructure and talent”. “As a country, we are a very tech-based island,” he continued.

He also feels that more local players have to take the industry seriously and make the step up to become professional. “There has to be a balance, as while not everyone can become professional, those that aim to take this step cannot give up simply because they lost or didn’t do as well as they expected in a competition,” Mr Chircop said.

Lastly, Mr Chircop also called for greater awareness and education about the industry “to encourage people to delve into it, either as gamers, event organisers, developers, or in any other areas”.

Apart from founding GMR, Mr Chircop simultaneously achieved a Bachelor’s in Computer Science from MCAST, developing his professionalism even further while he was still working at esports media company GosuGamers as PHP Developer. His prior experience also includes 10 months at Betsson as Senior Web Applications Developer, more than two years as Web Developer at PreeoStudios, and also two years as Software Developer Apprentice at Abertax Technologies.

Main Image:

GMR Founder Kersten Chircop / LinkedIn

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Written By

Fabrizio Tabone

Fabrizio has a passion for the economy and technology, especially when it comes to innovation. Aside from this, he also has a passion for football and movies, and so you will often find him either with a ball to his feet or at the cinema checking out the latest releases.