Game Research Roundtable
The Research Round Table will bring together researchers from Southern and East Africa to discuss the future of the gaming industry on the Continent from a regional perspective.
The objective of this Research Round Table, is to engage on key development challenges in the video games industries in Southern and East Africa, under the theme Strategies for Sustainability. It is also to exchange views on how evidence-based research can enhance private and public support for the creation of local video game products. The research aims to showcase the industry’s massive economic potential and the unique role it can play in addressing job creation within the creative industries and software sector.
The following will be key contributors presenting existing research:
MARS MAASAI & DR AKATI KHASIANI from HEVA, Kenya.
NICK HALL from MakeGames SA
DELON TARENTAAL from the South African Cultural Observatory
GABRIEL RAMOKOTJO from eKasi ESports
STEVE SACK from the Wits Cities Institute
XOLILE VUNDLA as facilitator.
Mars Maasai is the Insights Manager at HEVA Fund, East Africa’s first creative economy catalyst. He brings her extensive experience in research and analysis to HEVA’s policy development and ecosystem building work with stakeholders: public and private sector, international partners, practitioners and investees.
Built on his mathematical background, Mars’ role involves research and study into HEVA’s internal processes and external engagements with students, investees and industry practitioners/professionals, as well as state, philanthropic, developmental and corporate stakeholders at all levels. His findings and continued analysis inform our program strategy with regard to policy discourse both locally and regionally, and practical engagement with the wider HEVA community. Mars is co-author of HEVA’s Creative Industry Ease of Doing Business Reports: Stimulating Kenya’s E-sports and Gaming Industry.
DR AKATI KHASIANI
Dr. Akati Khasiani is the Relationship Manager at HEVA Fund, East Africa’s first creative economy catalyst. She brings her extensive experience in project management, research and administration to HEVA’s policy development and ecosystem building work with stakeholders: public and private sector, international partners, practitioners and investees.
She is instrumental in designing support programming for creative businesses, and is part of the strategy team for OTA, HEVA’s programmatic focus on women-led businesses. She is the project lead for HEVA’s Cultural Heritage Seed Fund, which supports, among others, cultural practitioners in gaming and virtual/augmented reality. Dr. Khasiani conducts research and analyses for HEVA’s newsletters, reports and studies and is co-author of HEVA’s Creative Industry Ease of Doing Business Reports: Stimulating Kenya’s E-sports and Gaming Industry.
Nicholas Hall is South Africa’s leading lawyer in the digital entertainment industry. Nicholas has worked and trained at one of South Africa’s leading ICT law firms. Nicholas is very well known in the South African video games industry (where he is a founding member and chair of Make Games South Africa the largest online community for game developers in South Africa, and CEO of the local industry association for video game development, Interactive Entertainment South Africa.). Nicholas advises on a broad range of legal issues facing the digital entertainment sector, including policy development with national government. Some of his experience includes:
– Advising games companies such as Free Lives (Broforce), Rune Storm Games (Viscera Clean Up Detail) and IGDA winner QCF Design (Desktop Dungeons).
– Drafting and advising on submissions for national policy and legislation, including the Intellectual Property Act Amendment Bill, the Films and Publications Board Online Content Rating Policy, the Films and Publications Amendment Act, The Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Act and the Copyright Amendment Bill.
Delon Tarentaal is a lecturer of Economics at Rhodes University, specializing in Mathematical Economics and Quantitative Finance. His research interests are focused on the Video Games Industry, ranging from demand drivers to eSports analysis.
Whilst studying towards a Masters Degree in Financial Markets at Rhodes University, he came across a documentary titled “Free to Play”, which followed the careers of professional DotA 2 players at the cusp of the eSports evolution. The documentary highlighted interesting economic concepts within DotA 2 as well as the eSports scene. Within the eSports scene, professional gamers were faced with steep opportunity costs with the outcome of their choice based on the evaluation of the DotA 2 economics. This, plus 10 000 hours of DotA 2 and membership of three competitive teams, led to the evaluation of the South African Gaming Industry.
Gabriel Ramokotjo is the CEO and co-founder of Ekasi Esports which is the first black managed gaming organisation in South Africa. He is also the Chairperson of Ekasi Tech Festival & Gaming Expo, township leading gaming expo. Gabriel was previously with the ZA Domain. Name Authority and is a former President of the Gauteng Chapter of the Internet Society.
Steven is an Honorary Fellow of the Wits City Institute. He recently undertook a mapping of the Creative and Cultural Ecosystem of South Africa as part of a six country study on behalf of the GIZ (The German Corporation for International Cooperation) in which Animation and Gaming formed a key component. The other countries included in the study were Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Kenya and Senegal. Steven has extensive experience as a senior government official working across the depth and breadth of the multiple domains that make up Heritage, Cultural, and Creative social and economic practices.
Xolile began his career as a software developer working at South African Airways in the mid-90s. Over the years he worked at a number of blue-chip companies in South Africa and the UK before venturing out onto his own and establishing a software consultancy in 2006 and with this endeavour became a winner of SAB Kickstart’s 2009 competition.
During this time he began to further exploring his passion for game development – culminating in the launch, during 2012, of a skills development and internship program that looked to support game studios with developers for a period of 12 months. Since then his work has focused on engaging in programs to support the growth of local studios and expand the skills base necessary for a globally competitive local gaming industry.
He is currently working with Wits Tshimologong on research work to get a better understanding of the workforce needs of studios across the country in order to design a locally-relevant curriculum for video game development education.
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