Young brains and game developers: Turkey’s real wealth
As Joseph Stiglitz said in 2014, unlike some African or Middle Eastern countries, perhaps Turkey is fortunate in lacking many natural resources. He argues that abundant natural resources lead to high revenues but low employment, harming necessary social and human capital equity for healthy growth.
Indeed, Turkey never suffered from what economists call the “Dutch disease,” which is shorthand for when good news, such as the discovery of large oil reserves, harms a country’s broader economy. For example, some studies comparing R&D development between Sweden and Norway suggest Norway’s lack of product innovation could come from overly relying on Oil Reserves.
What Turkey does have, however, is a young modern population willing to work to advance in life. While some deplore the excesses of social media, young Turks heavily use it and are present on the Internet. Through these tools, they see available opportunities in the world and are willing to take action to obtain them. Perhaps this entrepreneurship is best seen in the success of Turkish game development start-ups.
As of 2020, the number of gaming start-ups in Turkey amounted to 240, some of which have been generating significant revenue. Moreover, they have attracted international interest and have been acquired by bigger players. The acquisition of Peak and Rollic by U.S.-based Zynga were impressive achievements. Over the last five years, Turkish gaming start-ups have attracted $2.4 billion inflows. It is because of the smart and hard-working software developers and entrepreneurs that achieved it.
Aside from the financial benefit of these acquisitions, these achievements also give us hope for Turkey’s future. Gaming is an interesting software development area where mathematics, pure coding and a creative design background are all equally crucial elements for success. These young Turkish software engineers must have been both analytical and creative to come up with revenue-generating startups. It is proof that we can rely on young Turks to create and deliver.
If we are to push the boundaries of hope further, we can even envision a future where more developers and startup companies will be created in our country. For example, if we create an environment that produces around 100 Peak-like startups, then that can fetch a $180 billion incremental value for the country. Moreover, the additional jobs these enterprises produce are likely to increase the material wellbeing of the country further. In fact, the real golden bullet for the country would be its own Apple or Samsung brand. Today, the market capitalization of Apple stands at US$2 trillion.
The government can play an important role in unlocking the potential of young Turks. In this sense, the “1 million coders” initiative is an admirable start. Moreover, higher education institutions can create multi-disciplinary programs that will lead to a tech-savvy workforce. We should also ask the right and sometimes painful questions, such as whether we need so many university positions in non-technical areas and whether some young people could receive more targeted training in software development and computer sciences. This could be a game-changer for the future of the country and help solve youth unemployment.
These recent developments give the country hope and motivation. Through planning, support and positivity, young Turks can produce and deliver.