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.