Cavalry and Infantry

Infantry and Calvary

Cavalry may win a battle, but infantry are needed to win a war! The fate of the gaming space hangs in the balance and in the end, there will be winners and losers. I had a talk with Emeka Okoye about the future of gaming in West Africa and he passionately spoke about how the war would be decided on the mobile phone.

As you all know I love developing games for the web. For me the integration of content, development and tools on a single platform is particularly exciting. However, by the end of this year, I would have a decision to make on if I will be starting a game studio.

Don’t get me wrong! Technically I have what it takes to build a world-class game studio. The problem is the environment the industry finds itself in need of a repeatable and scalable business model. Commiting oneself to the onslaught of the coming years with no startup capital and without a guarantee of victory is either an act of faith or a form of insanity. However being a creative person, I believe it must come from within. So for the rest of the year, I will be searching my soul for if I want to build a game studio.

From my conversation with Emeka Okoye I sort of realized that by commiting to the web, I had effectively wiped out the mainstream which typically use mobile phones. In Africa, today, the two most popular phone brands are Nokia and Samsung both supporting the J2ME and Android platforms respectively.

Last year, I got frustrated with the Java programming language and swore off it! I took a lot of courage to close a door on 3 years of development in a programming language. At that time the mother company of the Java programming language Oracle had a lawsuit with Google which was against the spirit with which Java was built. That said the trends in the industry shows that Oracle has acknowledged the threat to it.

Now in the gaming space, web game development offers the freedom to toy around with game ideas in a platform that offers stability. However, the downside of web gaming in Africa is latency. Our internet connectivity is horrible! By developing games for the web only, I commit myself to a single point of failure which from an engineering perspective is a recipe for disaster.

So developing for the web means taking care of the cavalry. However occupation of territory happens due to the infantry. A small history lesson the city of Ibadan in Nigeria developed because of the occupation of the infantry stationed there by the leader of the Oyo Empire. Though the Oyo Empire  had a great calvary force, occupation was done by its infantry.

Same thing will happen with the games we develop. We can get noise (sorry I mean engagement) by developing for the web, but at the end of the day occupation will be with infantry. In tech speak: Flash and HTML5 will be how we get attention to what we do but at the end of the day if we make the decision to be relevant on our own continent, the Java programming language  will be where the occupation forces will have to be concentrated.