People of Play: African Game Developers

People of Play: African Game Developers poster

Curated by Vic Bassey co-founder of Games Industry Africa. A feature project of Fak'ugesi African Digital Innovations Festival's FAK’UGESI ARCADE in partnership with the French Institute of South Africa and the Gauteng Film Commission.

PEOPLE OF PLAY, engages African game developers as they unpack their worlds and work, and its importance and value to the African Games Industry.

Karmzah Run

Eyram Tawia from Ghana

An introduction to one of Leti Arts' games in development.

Morowa Adjei is an archaeologist who stumbles across a statue which gives her superpowers through her crutches. Morowa has cerebral palsy and walks with crutches. Morowa becomes Karmzah when on her crutches and fights crime across Africa. In this game, she chases kidnappers of a young lady in mining cities of Ghana as she hears young Ama cry for help! Save Ama!

I am the co-founder and CEO of Leti Arts, a digital media company in Ghana and Kenya leading the next wave of Africa’s rich storytelling tradition. Our vision is to shape a new generation of uniquely African content by creating engaging comics and games that pay homage to the continent’s greatest legends. Our content portfolio borrows from fables told by the Zulu, Massai, Ashanti and more to craft new tales appealing to a modern audience. Using exciting, interactive, mobile-driven mediums, our digital content will reignite the imaginations of children and adults alike.  As a game developer, I believe that Africa can making a salient contribution to the world of game development and preserve culture through this. I have pioneered developing the gaming industry in Africa with Leti Arts. I believe preserving cultural diversity through gaming and entertainment is very important and aim to prove this by creating world class games and comics using African talent.

Leti Arts

Leti Arts, formerly Leti Games was founded in 2009 by Eyram Tawia (Ghana) and Wesley Kirinya (Kenya). Leti was formed out of the passion to create a unique game studio in Africa, leveraging local talent while building quality games that could compete on the world market. These included digital comics and interactive applications that were targeted at mobile devices.

Afro Warriors: Battle for Power

Michel Nkuindja from Cameroon

A 1-on-1 indie fighting video game inspired by mythical creatures and landmarks from the African continent

"'Afro Warriors: Battle for Power' is a 1-on-1 indie fighting video game that draws heavily from mythical figures and landmarks from the whole of Africa as inspiration. However, the game’s characters, levels, and storyline don’t depict historical events but are more trivial in nature. The game world is set on an alternate timeline but has many parallels, references, and callbacks to cultural figures and events. The game was designed with the DNA of an eSport game; with Afro Warriors, our structure comes to offer the very first games made in Africa for eSport competitions and tournaments. The characters of the game are all inspired by the legends and mythology of the pantheon of African deities, which gave us a very wide field from which our creators drew inspiration to propose original characters. Drawing inspiration these legends and myths allows our game to connect to more than 80% of the cultures of the continent.  "

"The creative industry is a sector that creates thousands of jobs in Africa. With the advent of technological innovations, video games and cinema are enriching this sector by giving infinite opportunities for creators to offer content with high cultural value. I made the choice and I took the bet to invest myself entirely in this sector. It will soon be ten years of my involvement in the sector. At this point I am proud of the path I have taken and the impact I am beginning to make thanks to my work, in collaboration with many actors on the African continent. By continuing this dynamic, the e-sport sector will be enriched by games that will promote the cultures and colors of Africa in the years to come. We don't reinvent the wheel to be honest. We just bring our touch, our brand and our colors to make the video game market more diversified in terms of offers and content valuing African cultures, and that are addictive and fun to play."

Noohkema Game Studios S.a.r.l.

"Founded in 2017, Noohkema Game Studios S.a.r.l. is one of the leading game developers established in Cameroon. It is a creative company based in Douala and Yaoundé, Cameroon, which develops video games for PC and cell phones. Our ambition is to show how video games and interactive media can be the best way to change the global perception of Africa while preserving our cultural identity for the next generations. Noohkema has an experienced team with complementary skills, all passionate about digital innovation and video games. They have entered into strategic partnerships with leading software publishers and creation tools that allow them to save considerable time in the development of assets so that they can focus on the development of quality content. "

Whot King

Hugo Obi from Nigeria

A fun and addictive game for card game lovers

"'Whot King - Fun Card Game' is a fun, time passing game for card game lovers. You can spend hours playing this game and won't get bored for a second. If you are looking for a new and fun card game to add to your card game collection, you can surely add this one.   It's simple, fun, and exciting! For iOS: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/id1521652981 For Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.maliyo.whotking"

"We all need to unwind somehow. Some of us choose to read a book, some watch a movie and some play games.   I like how gaming makes me feel. The ability to immerse myself in a virtual world, to think and act, the sense of control, the reward and satisfaction of accomplishing something in quick time.   These experiences inspired me to develop games, more importantly to create African inspired games. We make games that immerse our players in familiar environments and for our non-native players into new environments, we give them the power to control the world around them, to empower and inspire the next generation of creators. "

Maliyo Games

Maliyo Games, based in Lagos, Nigeria, is a company known for its unique mobile games. Our products are inspired by African themes, clearly visible in the game environments, sounds, stories, and characters. A few of the fantastic projects that define Maliyo Games as a talented developing team include Mosquito Smasher, Okada Rider, and Aboki Run.

Kissoro Tribal Game

Teddy Kossoko from DRC / France

Play a strategy game that is deeply rooted in African board game history.

"Kissoro is a strategy game and it belongs to the Mancala family of board games. It has been played for centuries in almost all African countries and is even found in Asia and the Middle East. It is in fact a variant of the well-known Awalé, Senet, Bao or Congkak and is the equivalent of chess games. The mechanisms are similar to those of the game of Go. The goal of this strategy game is to capture all the opponent's pieces to prevent him from moving. It is of great pedagogical interest. "

I arrived in France in 2012 to continue my studies in computer science. Faced with the lack of knowledge of Africa in Europe, from 2014, in conjunction with my studies, I started to create video games to promote Africa. Today, in our studio we are creating the first store for all African creators. Our goal is to allow video game creators to generate money with their content anywhere in Africa and without intermediaries.

Masseka Game Studio

"Kissoro Tribal Game, the first game of the studio, was created by Teddy Kossoko (developer) and Matthieu Acloque (Lead 2D designer). Today, the studio is working on many projects at the same time and includes the team: - Rahul Patel: Android CTO - Landry Tené: Devops CTO - Pegy Mbassinga: Business Developer"

Clean my Beach

Julien Herbin from Senegal

Make the beach a paradise for sea creatures again through this fun slingshot game.

"'Clean my Beach' is a fun slingshot style game. No you won't throw animals this time, we don't hurt them. But by throwing trash that's lying on the beach, you'll make the sea animals eager to come back to the beach and make this place magical again! FEATURES: - A fun slingshot gameplay - Bring back 30 beach and sea animals - Nothing is wasted, craft more than 20 items - 20 achievements to unlock - Download and play for free! - No internet connection required"

Julien is the co-founder and CEO of Kayfo, the first game studio based in Dakar (Senegal). He has 13 years experience in the video game industry in Europe, Asia and North America, and has worked on games of all genres, from a small web game to major AAAs for PC and modern consoles. Julien is now leading his studio's teams in the production of non-violent African themed games, firstly designed for smartphones. His goal is to grow his team in learning by doing, and his ambition is to produce their first PC/Console title to be release in 2021.

Kayfo Games

Kayfo is a game studio based in Dakar (Senegal) and founded in 2019. We're producing non-violent mobile games with an African feel!

Cassette Roulette

Tutaleni Ilonga from Namibia

A dynamic and vibrant 2D puzzle game for music lovers with the gameplay of a card game

'Cassette Roulette' is a dynamic and vibrant 2D puzzle game with the gameplay of a card game. As the music in the game progresses through streaming platforms, listening to cassette tapes rapidly becomes obsolete. The music stores in the game are full of cassette tapes ready to be converted to a different medium, such as CDs. As an intern at a record store, the player is tasked to convert a bunch of old cassettes into golden CDs, using a custom-made Boombox with 2 cassette players. Some tapes are in Normal mode, and others are in Rewind mode. The objective is to merge two cassettes of different modes into cassettes of higher rankings until they become CDs. To do this, one tape must be put in the Normal Player, which plays music forward, while the other tape must be put in the Rewind Player, which plays music backwards. The Rewind button is used to rewind the cassette in the Rewind Player until the music is synchronized. Once it is synchronized, the merging process happens and produces a new cassette. There are 7 rankings of cassettes randomly shuffled within the “Cassette Deck”, providing different gameplay each time. Players can choose between two Game Modes: Time Trial and Level-Based. In the Level-Based Mode the player must collect a given number of CDs to complete the levels. In the Time Trials Mode, the player must collect as many CDs within a specific time. 'Cassette Roulette' encourages players to think ahead through strategic dealing of cassettes in order to reach the end efficiently. The inspiration for this game came from Software & Game Developer Developer Chubo Zeko's participation in a Game Jam earlier this year. Game Developer and Music Producer Mwaaba Alec Mugala and I joined forces with Chubo to work on various aspects of the game.

The value of play and playful engagement brings people together and creates a lot of happiness around something which is very rare in today's world. My work is very important in the African Game sector because the game jams I host with Game Jam Plus Africa are responsible for bringing people together to create games. The workshops we host online also teach people how to create games.

Chubo Zeko/Chandi Studios

Chubo Zeko - GAME DESIGN & PROGRAMMING/Chandi Studios Tutaleni Ilonga - GAME GRAPHICS & ART/TL Entertainment Studios Mwaaba Alec Mugala - MUSIC & SOUND DESIGN/EPIC Credos

Wildeverse

Jake Manion from Kenya

A mobile augmented reality game closely connected to ideas around conservation and environmental consciousness

Wildeverse is a mobile augmented reality game in which players join a crew of wildlife scientists and are transported into life-size, explorable holographic jungles to track and study the apes who call them their home. This game was created in collaboration with Borneo Nature Foundation and Goualougo Triangle Ape Project; two organizations at the forefront of the science and protection of rainforests in Africa and Asia.

I specialise in creating meaningful games, with a current focus on wildlife and its preservation. In that context, games are brilliantly placed to engage players intellectually and emotionally with complex and nuanced ideas. When that gets combined with enjoyment and an acknowledgement of the player's own sensibilities on the subject, we can reach a level of authenticity and trust which is very difficult to reach in most other mediums - but essential if you really want to make a difference. I've been working in the African games ecosystem for a little over four years, and in Europe for a lot longer prior. I've worked with indies and studios across the continent to bring my experience and industry network to their products. The global market is still sorely missing African voices, and I try to help change that.

Internet of Elephants

Internet of Elephants is an indie studio based out of Kenya, founded by Gautam Shah, a National Geographic Fellow. We are dedicated to producing games which ultimately benefit our planet's wildlife and its preservation.

The Wagadu Chronicles

Allan Cudicio from Ghana / Germany

Explore an afrofantasy world inspired by decolonial African cultures

The Wagadu Chronicles is an isometric MMORPG focused on role-play. Additionally, it has a companion Dungeons & Dragons 5E setting to allow players to explore its afrofantasy world both online and offline. In the game players are placed in a sandbox environment with an isometric point of view. Spirits and Ancestors can be contacted for resources and players will be able to get together in villages protected by totems in order to gain perks and strengthen their community. Character progression is skill based, and every day players get free experience points to assign - no grind is needed to progress. Combat is a possibility but most situations can be overcome by peaceful means too. Since roleplaying is the focus, we are excited to see people play around a table with their friends in a traditional offline tabletop session as well as to roleplay online with their avatar with new friends in the video game.

I am a Ghanaian-Italian who started Twin Drums, a Berlin/Accra & remote-based company, to develop games inspired by Africa. Some people ask me why my work is so African focused if I have spent most of my life in Europe. "You can take the black man away from African but can't take Africa away from the black man," I say. I grew up strongly connected to the Continent, visiting often and living in Ghana for some parts of my life. I understand two African languages and know how to move around. To some extent, being a black person in Europe sometimes means being even more African because one has to constantly represent the whole continent in the eyes of many people. You find yourself spreading knowledge and representation for Africa, no matter what. As a professional game developer and running a company, I decided to fully embrace this role and to continue this path of empowerment. So far it's brilliant and full of hope. I am excited for what comes next.

Twin Drums

We are a hybrid-remote team partially based in Berlin, Germany. Majority women, half black and a third queer. We are united by the beauty of all our differences.

Eji

Joy Ajayi from Nigeria

A personal project focused on counting and encouraging eye coordination.

Testing your eye coordination, or how fast you can count in five seconds? Eji was developed to do that, with no two counts ever being the same, you get to count how many times the 'number two' appears on your screen. Eji meaning 'two' in Yoruba was designed as a prototype for the United game jam. Designed using Adobe Illustrator, it is easy on the eyes and fun to play multiple times.

Brick by brick, a wall was built. Every brick was important and that is why I know my work matters in the African gaming sector. It doesn't have to be much but as long as I contributed for just a second, I am just as important. Play and playful engagement is just our interaction with the world. The laughter, the sighs, the smirks, the frowns, the frustration, all this sums up the engagement I hope to achieve with the games I create and the stories I tell. Life is vibrant and play should feel just the same. My love for escape rooms, cultural stories, and action makes me a Person of Play in Africa

Joy Ajayi

Eji was designed and developed by me using Adobe Illustrator and the Unity engine.

Doba-Dash

SpaceSalad Studios from South Africa

Race through the streets of Johannesburg using speed, strength and weapons made out of recyclable material to "doba" the most trash-bags and cross the finish line first.

Doba-Dash is an action-packed 3D combat racing game centered around recycling and its heroes. Play as Wandile, Azania. Nomkitha or Sello who belong to the Paper, Plastic, Metal and Glass street surfer racing gangs respectively, as they race through the streets of Johannesburg in the dark of night using speed, strength and weapons made out of recyclable material to "doba" (Zulu for "pick up") the most trash-bags and cross the finish line first. In this PC Demo, you can race on one of two race tracks: The lively Tshimologong track or the tactical Junkyard track. Test your how fast you can dash in either Time Trial where you need to collect 10 bags and cross the finish line in decreasing time or go up against your fellow street surfers in a fierce free-for-all Normal Race. Download, pick your race, pick your hero and let's race against waste!

We, as SpaceSalad Studio, believe that Africa is the future and play is the answer. We are inspired by our rich and ever-evolving creativity and stories that provide us with direction as to how to begin taking action against the many complex problems we face. To a people who use narrative & ingenuity to solve conundrums, games are an easy next step in the African evolution. Doba-Dash is the embodiment of the above. By taking our current solution to something such as waste & pollution, making it interactive & putting it on the world stage, we hope to use the behavioral reinforcement of games to shape young peoples mindset & habits when it comes to something like recycling. This is yet another platform to empower, encourage & entertain; to be People of Play, to be African.

SpaceSalad Studios

Established in 2019, SpaceSalad Studios is a content creation collective that seeks to be an authentic African storyteller in the age of the 4th industrial revolution through the use of interactive media.

Ambi

Estelle Mmathapelo Makhoba from South Africa

Translating themes around mental health into game play mechanics.

Ambi is a Dungeon Roguelike, where you engage in conversations with the NPCs and convince them to help you in battle and puzzles. This game features themes related to mental health.

Video games allow interactions with ideas and experiences like no other form of entertainment and or art. I believe my work is important to the African Games Sector because I get to have a say in what or who a game developer can be. I am a Person of Play in Africa because I get to tell our stories and experiences though the medium of games.

Naletsana

This game was developed by Estelle Makhoba and Clayton Barnard.

Warshmallows

Walid Sultan MIDANI from Tunisia

A universe of cuteness and excitement where you can text your speed and reflexes.

Warshmallows is an online and couch multiplayer game that wants to bring back the fun of spending quality time with your family and friends while playing intense matches casually in front of your TV or screen.

In a very cute universe you will have to fight in teams or as a solo player to be the last person or team standing. To do so, you‘ll take control of a Warshmallow; a tiny, cute and very skilled creature with abilities like triple jump, instant dash and slowing time to avoid bullets. Every match is an epic test of skill, speed, strength and reflexes.

I have been In the video games industry since 2004 organising esports tournaments. In 2011 I founded the first Tunisian Studio: DigitalMania.
After developing more than 125 games our focus today is on 2 verticals:
1- Serious games: Our latest game - www.theinfiniteloop.net - is a world wide best seller teambuilding game.
2- Casual competitive games: www.warshmallows.com is a 2D arena action game planned to be released in 2021.

Warshmallows

Yourun Ltd / DigitalMania SA

DigitalMania: Founded in 2011 in Tunisia, DigitalMania is a pioneer in game development in the MEA region. The studio has developed more than 125 games in entertainment, advergames and serious games on mobile, PC, console, VR, AR, XR, etc. In 2019 DigitalMania released www.theinfiniteloop.net, a worldwide bestselling teambuilding game.

Yourun Ltd: A fresh new indie Maltese studio/publisher focusing on casual competitive games and casual esports. It's main title www.warshmallows.com will be released in 2021.

Gebeta

Dawit Abrahim from Ethiopia

A new and updated version of the classic mancala board game

"Welcome to Gebeta, the new and updated version of the world’s favorite board game! NEW TAKE ON A CLASSIC  Play the classic mancala board game you know and love, now with special power-ups and boosters! Go on an individual quest, challenging fictional characters with new skills at every level. Test your brain and logic skills as the levels get more challenging. Pick up different tricks and customize your appearance with fun cosmetics as you play your way to the top! PLAY MULTIPLAYER ONLINE! Gebeta features a new, unique, and much-anticipated multiplayer mode. Online matchmaking lets you play in a whole new way online. Match and play against other online players as you test your mancala prowess. "

"Throughout history, art and play have held a significant role in setting the narratives and passing on the pride and virtues of a community. Unfortunately, over the past couple of centuries, the African narrative has been changed to a widely misleading and inaccurately negative one.  Gaming is one of the most technologically advanced forms of art today. It is a collaborative creation that brings together the diverse artistic realms of storytelling, music, visual arts, and many more. This is why games can prove to be a powerful channel for representing the identity of those creating them. As people of play, we can take back the front seat in telling our own stories. We can talk about the legacy, prosperity, magic, and abundance that others leave out when telling our stories. Africa has contributed a great deal to the world, not just in art but in science, society, and culture. Amongst many other things, ancient African games are great testimonies to the brilliance, wisdom, and artistry of our ancestors. Today, we are here to tell the story of the world's first and oldest board game, Gebeta (Mancala)."

Qene Games

"Qene Games is an award-winning studio based in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. We are known for the 3D mobile game, Kukulu, that won the 2018 Apps Africa Awards for best entertainment app. Founders: Samuel Sisay (Co-founder, Lead Game Developer) Dawit Abraham (Co-fonder, Game Developer, CEO)"