28 November 2018
Gaming exhibitions, game development seminars, virtual reality expos and robots. This is the ultimate gamer’s dream.
And it’s all coming to life this week when part of the Castle of Good Hope is transformed into a gamer’s playground.
From Wednesday November 28 – Cape Town – a city fast becoming recognised as Africa’s game development hub – hosts the inaugural Africa Games Week.
It will also feature conferences, gaming industry-related activities as well as workshops focusing on securing investment for projects and promoting ideas on the international market.
Currently more than half of the game development studios in South Africa are based in Cape Town including indie game development studios and services companies working for the AAA industry.
Event organisers Interactive Entertainment South Africa believe the 5-day showpiece will further shine the light on African game development.
Game development is one of Film Cape Town’s areas of focus working with the strong local gaming community while the City of Cape Town is also creating an enabling environment for the sector with lower costs of living, as well as the presence of a thriving film and creative arts industry.
The City of Cape Town is also providing financial support to the event.
Adding Africa Games Week to the city’s events calendar provides yet another opportunity to showcase and stimulate growth of the local game industry.
Hardcore gamers and developers from different parts of the continent will also have an opportunity to connect with their African counterparts, cultivate partnerships and grow their knowledge when interacting with local and international gaming industry experts.
One of those experts is Kate Edwards – CEO of Geogrify, a California-based consulting firm specialising in content culturalisation and strategy in video games.
She is also former executive director of the International Game Developers Association. Edwards is one of the speakers billed for the Make Africa Games conference.
She told Film Cape Town in order for a city to become a successful game creation centre; it must have a complete game development ecosystem which consists of the game industry education, government and the public.
“The industry, educational institutions and governments must have an open dialogue and cooperate with each other to create a place where the industry is supported through grants and tax concessions. A solid education system exists to provide the needed skills, and the public is directly engaged to gain their support of game creation as a positive aspect of the economy, and a positive medium that is universally enjoyed around the world,” Edwards said.
With all those pieces working together, she says, Cape Town and the rest of the region can become a major visible force in the global industry – which has revenue of over $100 million.
Edwards has advised African game developers to forge their own vision for their games and their local industries going forward.
While it’s important to take lessons from more established game markets like the US and the UK, she said, it is also critical for African game developers to use their unique culture to influence their process and how they make their games.
“Don’t try to be someone else or mimic others’ approach; create games that reflect your culture and values. And don’t treat each other locally like competition, work together to solve whatever problems you face and help each other succeed,” Edwards said.
Dubbed the playful media festival, Playtopia falls under the Africa Games Week umbrella and is a celebration of the country’s “diverse game development community”.
Johannesburg-based game developer Cukia Kimani will be one of the drawcards at the event. He is the co-founder of game-development studio Nyamakop.
“We need more events like this that highlight the industry on a global scale. The more we have international awareness it allows us to be more visible and attract business opportunities,” Kimani said.
“It is the first of its kind in South Africa with international business experts to speak and distil their wealth of experience in the industry with us. As a business owner myself, it’s great to have this event on the home turf allowing us the opportunities.”
Kimani is in agreement with Edwards about African developers creating games using their own unique voice – an approach he believes fascinates both local and international audiences.
Africa Games Week is at the Castle of Good Hope until Sunday December 2.
Photo Credit: Nyamakop