Interview with the team Behind GGJLagos


The gaming scene in West Africa is gradually heating up! Come next week in the first of its kind, Lagos Nigeria will be hosting the first Global Game Jam. This one event will give the West African gaming scene the visibility it needs. At the event, the developers of Titi Tilapia are scheduled to make an appearance. I had a long distance interview with the team and this will be the post this week. So let’s get to it.

Describe what your event is about?

The Global Game Jam (GGJ) is the world’s largest game jam event occurring annually in late January. GGJ brings together thousands of game enthusiasts participating through many local jams around the world. GGJ is a project of the International Game Developers Association(IGDA).

The inaugural GGJ in 2009 had 53 sites in 23 countries participating and 370 games were made. The 2012 GGJ increased the numbers to about 10,684 participants at 242 sites in 45 countries with 2,209 games created at this event and gained recognition to the Guinness World Record.

What do you hope to achieve with this event?

By hosting this event, we want to
(a) Create a serious attention, consideration of game development as a profitable investment, resource, career and form of expression
(b) Seed the kernel of tomorrow’s critical mass of game development investors, entrepreneurs and consumers
(c) Enable the environment for IP commercial realization

What is your view of game development in Nigeria?

Our view of game development in Nigeria so far is that there is some growth in the industry locally but we are barely scratching this industry so far due to the global nature that we  know of. There is still a lot to be done in regards to the actual gameplay of our games we produce, most of the games developed so far have either being for mobile, browser based and pc. So we need to look into other platforms like console and handheld were you have major block busters. Also the type of games being produced need to move from Role Playing (RPG) to others like Real Time Strategy (RTS), Alternate Reality etc.

What factors do you feel limit the industry?

Well factors that limit the industry so far have been
(a) Lack of research done by local developers as to what product they want to develop, how they are going to retain players who have taken time to play their title(s), what sort of market are they going to sell their titles either locally or globally via  what channels or distributors, weak marketing strategy.
(b) Lack of funding channels for game developers especially on the  African continent.

How can the industry develop?

First of all more research needs to be done by local game developers, then many developers need to form partnerships and collaborate with other well known established developers, this can only be possible when you have a great product on those company standards. Another point is that there are a lot of non – profit groups out there were local indies can get real industry knowledge and form partnerships with other people around the industry, the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) is one of them, as they do have a recognised local chapter in Nigeria.

What activities will take place during the event?

The activities that will take place at the Global Game Jam are
(a) On the First Day we have a game launch – Titi Tilapia developed locally by Sonbim Games. They will talk about how the title was developed, their inspiration behind it and then for the of the first day will be a meetup with the participants who have registerd for the event, and then there keynote speeches via video from global speakers.
(b) On the Second day, we have 4 talks lined up – 2 local speakers will be at the venue in person, while the other two will be done via podcasts.
(c) On the Third day, will be team formation for all participants at the event. All the teams will then have a brainstorm session on the content for the titles they want to develop and what  game tools they would be using at the venue. Though we have  approved Game Maker 8.1 and Unity Engine as the official game engine for this event, any team is open to use any other engine they can so far they have an official license to this engine.
(d) On the Fourth and Fifth day, the actual 48 hours game jam holds.

Who are the speakers at the event?

Speakers for this event are
(a) Leonard Duro – Emanuel who will talk on incorporating  Artificial intelligence into gameplay. Factors for consideration
(b) Antonio Emanuel who will talk on incorporating Virtual Reality into Reality Games
(c) Thomas Marshall CEO/Animator/3D artist – Pucas Studios U.S.A who will talk on how to do an honest Start – up with little to start with
(d) Luke Dicken who made the Forbes 30 under 30 list  of Tech entrepreneurs in 2012, and the brains behind the Scottish Game Jam

What will happen to games developed at the event?

Due to the event being volunteer based with a global coordinating body, all games developed at this event will handed over to the global organising body via the local orgsaniser which will then be featured on a global web portal were       people can download each zip file for any title for free. Each team is allowed to market its title on their own terms to anyone as we won’t hold the rights to that title, but if any of the team wants us to help with the marketing, then we will consider this action.

Who are the sponsors of the event?

Sponsors for our event are IGDA Nigeria,  Computer Science Department of the Unversity of Lagos, Unity Technologies, The African Events Company, CYPHA Interactive, Tech 360, Biztech Africa.

Where do you see the Nigerian gaming industry in 2016?

Where we see the Nigerian Game Industry in 2016, more robust with great game release and great opportunity for skill acquisition via our future game jams.

So that’s all for this week. If you are in Lagos, do take out one day and join the event. Join us next week as we take a complete and honest look at another issue in the West African gaming space.


Sonbim Games

The Blue Marble

Yesterday was phenomenal! Ghanaians had their 6th elections in the 4th republic. It was also the 4oth anniversary of Apollo 17 which was the eleventh and final mission of the United States Apollo Program. The above picture represents the one of the last few shots taken by the spacecraft

The gaming space in West Africa is heating up! This week I got to interview Idamiebi Ilamina-Eremie of Sonbim Games. In case you don’t know, Sonbim Games are the company behind Titi Tilapia Nigeria’s First Video Game! Enough talk on with the interview…

When did you first conceive the idea for Titi Tilapia?

My friend and I Jeff are gamers, and were working together at Ideacentric Global in Abuja, I had since discovered a game development platform but had never used it, I discussed it with Jeff… and we were like “We could Actually make a Game” but it should be really simple so that we don’t start the project and give up along the way if it simply becomes too large… Next thing you know… I got the idea of a Fish gathering eggs within a time limit… Jeff came up with the name Titi Tilapia… Then I called Fola, my friend, we were all 3D modelers and Animators, so art wasn’t going to be our problem, we would be more challenged with programming (we still are), but if there’s anything Nigerians are it’s resilient. We must find a way and we did. (I learnt…) no shaking… After that other things just fell into place…

How long did it take to build the game?

Actual Development  on Titi Tilapia started in August 2011, We released the demo in January 2012… Took reactions from people, took a break (since we all do other things to pay the bills) and went back to Development in August 2012, We are set to release the full game in January 2013 at the first Lagos Global Game Jam

Why did you build Titi Tilapia?

Titi Tilapia for us started as just a fun project, we also were excited that we could be pioneers in PC game development in Nigeria… then we released a demo, and it just blew up… So many people were interested… That’s when we decided it could be something serious.

Can we expect a version on Windows 8?

Because of our development platform, we don’t have any native windows 8 apps planned, but of course it will naturally work as a regular Windows application that is installed the old school way.

Is all the development done locally?

All development is done locally, From Programming , 3D Art to the 2D art,music sound effects, our team is a bunch of friends who just want to prove that this can be done here.

What awards has Titi Tilapia won?

Since we haven’t officially released the game, we are yet to win any awards, but we hoping we win a bunch in 2013, Fingers crossed…We aren’t looking at making the next “God Of War” or anything like that, so for us, even just finishing the game and having people actually play it will be amazing .

Can we expect more games next year?

Definitely, and i don’t want to let the cat out of the bag but let’s lemme just hint that our next title is a racing game that will be instantly recognizable as uniquely Nigerian, and it will be multi-platform (PC,Android, IOS,Mac) .We have learnt a lot, and  made a lot of mistakes in the development of Titi Tilapia,  So by our next title, we hope to have everything done properly.  We’ll also be developing an episodal game for an upcoming Nigerian blog. 2013 is looking pretty exciting

Where can a copy of the game be downloaded from?

Just the demo is available now… You can go to the site to get the demo.. The full game will be launched in January…

That’s all for this week! Next week I will be featuring the game on this blog.


Bootstrapper's Bible

This week was really exciting on the first day of the month I got in touch with a dear friend from Nigeria Victor Dibia who runs a startup called Denvycom. In the course of chatting with him I found out that he was participating in a training program organised by MIT AITI in collaboration with the University of Lagos and since curiosity kill the cat I decided to look up the site.

In the end, I found out about The Bootstrapper’s Bible on the website and finished reading it that same day. Its 103 pages in total and a great read. Its a story of how small platoons can take on big battalions and win! By building a business with financial probity at it core, it is possible to survive and thrive. Enough said!

This week the company in focus is one of the guest lecturers at the MIT AITI programme. It is made up of two renowned programmers Zubair Abubakar and Bayo Puddicombe. Before leaving Nigeria I sat down with Bayo to talk about his award-winning game Danfo.


When did you first build Danfo?
2007 Not too long after youth service.

Opportunity in between

What platforms is Danfo available on?
Currently available for download on Series 40 Devices

Based on market trends and demand. Nokia is the largest supplier of feature phones in this market. Device fragmentation led to focus on Nokia

Is all the development done locally?

Can we expect more games later in the year?

What awards has Danfo won?
3rd place in the Nokia West Africa Create 4 Millions

Maybe the judges were looking for business. UI was not too standard

So there you have it. Danfo is available from the Nokia Store if you have a Nokia Phone do check it out! Globally, Nokia is losing marketshare thus forcing them to consolidate on the Nigerian market where they have a hold in the feature phone market.

If I am right, some time in the future, Nokia is going to have to do a deal with Pledge51 for their game to be on their platform as an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer). Given losses in the rest of the world, it makes sense to focus on the largest market in Nigeria where they already have a hold. As at today, Pledge51 is one of 10 startups in the Nokia Growth Academy


On a personal note  Bayo Puddicombe and myself both went to the University of Lagos. He was my 4 years ahead of me. I remember him as quiet and confident. In between the time he left the University of Lagos and when our paths crossed again in 2011, he attended IVD where he met Zubair Abubakar. In that time the formidable partnership has gone on to do great things.

Bayo Puddicombe at Cocreation Hub

Bayo Puddicombe at Cocreation Hub

Maliyo Games

The fight between Android and Apple

Its been a while since I last posted anything on this blog. In that time I relocated to Accra. That is partly the reason why the blog was inactive. For me relocation was like dying. I had to get my affairs in order. Preparations had to be made. Farewells said. Today is my 30th day in Ghana and I am settled in.

One of the things I did before leaving was interview the founder of Maliyo Games Hugo Obi it was my first interview ever for this blog. Nice guy, put me at ease and even gave me advice on how to conduct an interview :-0

In between that time Zynga the Social Gaming giant reported some very serious losses. Before this time, most game developers thought like this

Business model before Zynga decline

This development means that gaming studios have to rethink their strategies in developing and distributing content. What does this have to do with the West African Gaming space? Time will tell.

History bears witness that the old civilizations like the Aztecs, the Chinese empires, the Native American Indians, were destroyed by a people with more sophisticated technology. The same thing is starting in the Gaming space. Maliyo Games unveiled itself to the public on May 31st 2012. Before that time what the gaming space saw was a bunch of programmers who wrote games part-time but never really committed to it.

All that changed with the coming of Maliyo Games. Now the bar has been raised once and for all. Game Developers must do it or let it die. Go home or go big. There is no more time to meddle. Enough said On With the Interview!

What is your background in the technology business?
Lots of failure
What made you invest in the local gaming industry?
Because there isn’t any industry locally and there is an opportunity to build it
How did you generate initial funding?
Personal funding
Did you carry out any market research before starting?
Who is your target market?
Everybody and anybody with an internet accessible mobile device
What is the focus of your games?
Looking at fun,entertaining, engaging with local narratives.
Why browser-based games?
Easier development and production cycles.
Rapid prototyping.
What is your monetization strategy?
None implemented yet. You need numbers to monetize
What can we expect by the end of the year?
Wait and see
Where do you see Maliyo Games in 2016?
A mature market with plenty of content and market diversity

Hugo Obi

Hugo Obi (Assume the background is the West African Gaming space)

The lessons of history do not lie. Christopher Columbus was the first white man the Native Americans ever saw. In time more white men would come and there would be a fight for the land in America. History records that all the Native Tribes that choose to fight were eventually vanquished by the invaders. Those that survive today do so by the largesse of the victors who gave them reservations to live in.

The lesson for developers is simple. The Gaming Space is pregnant with potential it is up to everyone to position themselves for the next 3 years. For those not familiar with history, study the Scramble for Africa because that is what is happening in the gaming space.

In conclusion as my final advice to game programmers, I will end with an image from the book The Sicilian by Mario Puzo.

The end of a world