It may sound like music put on endless repeat, but when Africa is said to be a continent on the meteoric rise to economic liberty, it isn’t a formality. From tech startups to bumper industries and world interest in the aspect of investments, the continent is more or less the next big happening in the world of innovation. From different nooks and crannies of Africa, there are entrepreneurial minds leveraging tech to build software and app to solve different issues. But sometimes, all work and no play does make Jack a dullard, and that is why these five African game developers are offering world-class entertainment at the click and tap. In no particular order, these are the praiseworthy African game developers and their products.
South Africa’s Celestial Games
This Johannesburg-based company is notorious for their Toxic Bunny title. Celestial Games was founded in 1994, and seemingly put the foot on the gas to steam with their coffee-guzzling, gun-slinging rabbit, while also working on Arni the Metal Armadillo as their second release title. When Toxic Bunny was completed, the developers roped in sales of 150,000 copies internationally and more than 7,000 locally – and that was no mean feat for a South African developer at the time. As a result of financial constraints though, the founders opted to close the doors of the company in 2001. After six years of Celestial Games’ dominance, the founders, Travis Bulford and Nick McKenzie sprang back up and concerted efforts to release a high-definition version of the Toxic Bunny and employed a new team of developers. Celestial Games eventually went public with the game in 2012.
Kenya’s Leti Games
Leti Games was cofounded by Eyram Tawia and Wesley Kirinya, and it has a Ghana-based studio that functions as a double-pronged machine that produces video games as well as comic books based on African characters. What can be regarded as their most popular title is True Ananse, which revolves around the legend of the West African trickster which the company reimagined as a comic and mobile game. Kirinya’s first gaming product was a 700-megabyte Tome Raider clone with an African theme, but since then the pair has synergized to work on a several of games. The company recently underwent a rebranding that saw them off with the name Leti Arts – to incorporate fully, the aspect of graphic novels. Let Games has also been featured on BBC and Polygon, and their True Ananse series was nominated by an international jury of experts to enter the next round of the 2013 World Summit Award. Reports are that Leti Arts brings Africa’s rich folklore to life through the media of comics and mobile gaming.
The proclamation to change the gaming landscape in Africa is a rather tall order, but that’s precisely what the brains behind Kuluya have their eyes set on. This Lagos-based studio, with more than a hundred titles already under the belt, comprises a team with experience in advertising, video animation, software development, and marketing. According to them, the forte is in the creation of games developed with African players in mind. From high-end games on Console to the casual browser types, there aren’t really much people developing games for Africa around African experiences. Kuluya’s games are built with themes that pervade the everyday life of the average Nigerian and African. Kuluya takes a commonly known theme, models it into a game and make it as fun as possible. The online studio was awarded a small seed-stage investment that increased its valuation to more than USD 2 Mn.
Uganda’s Kola Studios
Kola Studios majors in the building of mobile games for the Android and iOS operating systems, which they started back in 2011. Not looking back even for a second, this Ugandan developer has developed the very popular Matatu game for Android. The gaming studio currently has five games in their tech coffers, but Matatu, which is a two-player game based on a popular local version of the same name, is the developers’ most prominent. Kola believes that they have a secret formula for making these successful titles – talented people, freedom to think and a passion for their own products. The studio works out of a true-to-the-core incubator because they love working in an environment lively and abuzz with budding tech-savvy people, especially in Kampala.
If you want to have some African fun, you could perhaps check out these culture cum experience-rich games on the different platforms, and tell us about the experience.