Video games are becoming a booming industry in Africa thanks to a mushroom of innovators and developers on the continent. Startups are spiraling across the continent coming up with unprecedented games and content with African themes. The gaming industry in Africa is now worth millions of dollars due to the relentless efforts of these developers, programmers, scientists, entrepreneurs, and other tech gurus.
Madiba Guillaume Olivier had dreams like any other teenager when he was growing up in Cameroon. His most pressing dream was to move to America or even to Europe in order to pursue not “greener pastures” but his zeal for video games. He lived a life of video games because his father owned a video store. Olivier did not sit and wait; rather he went online in order to understand more about game design. However, it was not until when he was doing computer science at the University of Yaoundé that his dream (and that of the continent) started to bear fruit. He partnered with a group of friends to work on a project they dubbed Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan.
Video Games Project and the Prince of Planet Auriona
The project was a 2D flight of the imagination game that featured Enzo and Erine, a Prince, and his fiancée. The two were embroiled in a quest to reclaim the lost power after a family member betrayed them on the planet Auriona. The team later improved the game design and used it to dive deeper into the industry. Olivier did not move to US or even Europe. The project led to a natural death of his dreams of moving but gave birth to even better dreams with continent-wide and later worldwide ramifications. Olivier and his team released the official version of the game in 2011 winning the hearts of fans, investors and everything else in between. That is how Africa got Kiro’o Games, the first video game studio to come up with an African-themed mythological video game.
“We started to think about the fact that we can make our own studio here [Africa] and sell games abroad,” Olivier remembers.
Olivier and his team are not the only innovators doing Africa proud in this emerging video game industry. In fact, over the last ten years, many video game developers and startups have sprung up across the continent. There are startups in South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Tunisia and even in Egypt. Because of growth in funding opportunities and supporting accelerator tech hubs on the continent, Africa is moving beyond the confines that resulted from inadequate infrastructure in some countries. Traditional fintechs in Arica are now normal and nothing to write home about anymore. The continent is expanding beyond what has now become normal tech disruptions in education, health, insurance, agriculture into other areas. Now is the time for the gaming industry.
Other African Themed Video Games
The African narratives, myths, legends, traditions, stories, creativities, mysteries and other mystical societal characteristics are more frightening than Halloween. Or at least to those who understand why it is commemorated in the first place. Tapping into this social heritage and cultural material is a sure success path for the gaming industry. That is why a Moroccan Telcom has invested in a mobile game.
There are other notable gaming innovators doing exciting video games. This boom can be observed with The International Game Developers Association having seven chapters in Africa.
Some innovators in this space include:
- Ananse: The Origin by Leti Arts in Kenya, is a game based on impressive folklore from Ghana.
- Celestial Games and Thoopid are also doing Africa proud with magnificent games from the South of the continent.
- Ebola Strike Force that touches on the story of researchers and scientists yearning to save humankind from the lethal virus is breathtaking.
- Mzito by Weza Interactive Entertainment in Kenya is a game that takes users on a journey to save the continent. Here, you play as a lion and use ancient spirits to save Africa from ancient corruption. “We wanted to focus on the African theme on because we think it’s time for Africa,” George Ohere, the Weza Interactive CEO said recently.
- Sambisa Assault is another one that gives game enthusiasts the chance to join the fight against terror movements.
- The Okada Rider by ChopUp studio in Nigeria that simulates the notorious traffic congestion in the streets of Lagos.
- Digitalmania has more than 87 magnificent games on Google Play, Facebook, and Apple Store. Sadly, these tech giants do not allow merchant payments in Tunisia. Because of this, the innovator cannot get revenue from their innovations.
The African Video Game Industry by Revenue