East Africa Sees a Rise in E-Gaming

Globally, e-gaming is a phenomenon that is developing rapidly, and by the end of 2018, the amount of money that the sector generated totaled to US $125.4 billion, a sum that was 15% higher than that which was generated in the previous year. The Global Games Market Report also indicated that the number of gamers who were attracted within the sector stood at 190 million.

However, within the east African region, the growth is becoming exponential, and one of the major contributing factors is the fact that the gaming ecosystem is one that is emerging, as it consists of communities of gamers and organizations, some of which include the Africa Game Developers Community. In the continent, it is the first of its kind as it includes friends and developers of games, most of who have their roots in east Africa.

Africa Game Developers as a gaming community was an initiative that was started under Ludique Works, an organization that headed by Nathan Masyuko, Lillian Nduati, and Douglas Ogeto. The fact that it started in January 2018 did not limit its membership, as by mid the same year it had more than 150 members from over ten countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, Ghana, Cameroon, Zambia, and many more. The main aim of the organization was to ensure that the games that are developed within Africa are commercialized more than how it happens.

In collaboration with Liquid Telecom, the community holds meetings on a monthly basis where some of the issues covered entail demos, talks, and the showcasing of various developed games. Some of the games that the members have developed include Recce Squad and The Orchard from Kenya, and Kukulu from Ethiopia.

The developer of The Orchard, David Kamunyu, is one who taught himself the art of game developing. The game is meant for PCs, where one needs to engage with foresight and logic as means of restoring an old farm into being productive once again. The game is not clear-cut as one may think, as the player needs to make sure that they govern their general well-being that entails personal health, abide by the seasons of Kenya in such a way that they successfully grow crops and get yields from animals. The yields need to be taken to the market in a timely manner as a means of ensuring that one gets the most profits from the same, or also get money from elsewhere, as the intention is to ensure survival.

At the end of the year 2017, the game gained recognition in various events that are organized internationally, including A Maze that is hosted in Johannesburg South Africa, where the main intention is to have a showcase of alternative and independent games, and also virtual simulation. The other event was The Game Mixer as planned by the Goethe Institute in Johannesburg that was intended at the promotion of professional exchanges between developers of various games. David was also emergent among the top five best game developers with the platform referred to as Digital Lab Africa Competition.

Another rising star in the sector of game development is Kenyan CukiaKimani, a current student of Computer Science and Digital Arts from a university in Johannesburg. In 2015, he was the winner of the Amaze award for the game that he developed with a colleague known as Ben Crooks called Boxer. The game was also part of a selection of various international awards that include the Utrecht Indigo of 2016, the 2016 edition of the Chicago Bit Bash, and the Birmingham Leftfield 2016 edition.

The Region is experiencing a Rise in Gaming Tournaments

NAICCON 2017 was the first international multiplayer video game competition in Africa, where the number of participating teams using PC and consoles were 16, emanating from Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. More than 3500 inventive minds were attracted, most of which came from the comic book, animation, and gaming industries. Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, also experienced the largest pool of prizes, as it received Ksh. 1 million in the second edition of the gaming tournament that was created by Pro Series Gaming, where one of the games that featured was Mortal Kombat XL.

At the same time, gaming using PCs is also shifting to theatres, where fans and supporters, newcomers and enthusiastic gamers are being offered with a platform where they can have viewership that is exemplary, not mentioning the fact that they are getting to use large LED screens accompanied with live commentary. As such, organizers are also getting a better source of making money, not forgetting the owners of the cinemas, and some of the agencies that rent out their sound and video equipment. The entire eco-system is a bee-hive of activities that has resulted in the creation of many job opportunities for various people and agencies, including people who deal with creating animations, music composers, modelers of various user interfaces, creators of sound effects, customers support employees, and many other positions. In all these David is mainly dealing in making sure that local music is assimilated into the game The Orchard, while also bringing on board local advertisers that include hotels and local clothing brands. The main intention is to promote the commercialization of the games with a feel that is African.

Liquid Telecom leading in the promotion of E-Gaming

As the industry is rapidly developing, Liquid Telecom has played a key role in the commercialization of e-gaming, with specific interest in games that are developed locally. The past four years have seen the company being the main sponsor of a gaming community from Uganda through the website www.gamersnights.com, where people engage in multiplayer gaming. The company has mainly supported in the form of hosting the gaming servers, besides providing internet connectivity, something that is crucial for the sake of having seamless online playing of video games.

Liquid Telecom is has also been the main partner in major regional online gaming activities, especially in the provision of internet connectivity as a way of ensuring the experience is modern for the gamers. The main intention of providing such support is the fact that the management believes in the industry as one that can create many jobs for the youth, while also ensuring the region experiences infrastructural development and in the creation of content locally.

Despite all these positives, there are issues to worry about considering that there are problems that come in with a lot of online gaming. For instance, addiction is a major problem, as of June 2018 the World Health Organization (WHO) came up with the identification of gaming addiction as a mental disease, and as such there were plans for coming up with public health strategies for the same. The nature of dependence on the game is mainly driven by the fact that people abandon other duties for the sake of engaging in gaming activities. In the year 2016, researchers from Oxford University found that the addictive nature of online gaming cannot be compared to that of gambling. In most cases, gamblers may not stop themselves from gambling once they start engaging in the vice, while online gamers are always engage in the games to an extent that they may forget that they have to engage in some other life activities.

The addiction can also be seen from a positive perspective, where professional gamers and talented enthusiasts spend most of their time in gaming, not for the wrong reasons, but rather as a means of earning a living. Besides that, making a name for yourself in the gaming world is as essential as making money, as that is also a means of making connections of getting sponsorships with gaming companies that seek potential gamers to promote their products.

In that case, the fact that the internet infrastructure is one that is rapidly developing when compared to other regions in the continent means that East Africa is a region that is leading with regards to the development of Africa as an ecosystem of online gaming. The opinion that Africa is lagging behind with regards to online gaming is gradually becoming a powerhouse that will be the envy of many other industries globally. With the spread of internet coverage increasing by the day, there is a possibility that the industry players will have to do more to provide the increasing number of enthusiasts with platforms where they can showcase their skills and create more content.

The article was published in Magazine E-PLAY Africa 3/2020


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