When did you see an African video game hero for the last time?


Why not be a courageous hero fleeing demon monkeys or a glamorous mannequin in gown up video games? Players are too usually drawn into worlds filled with violence and unhealthy physique picture, in keeping with Jay Shapiro, co-founder of Usiku Games, primarily based in Kenya.

The Canadian entrepreneur hopes to upset the gaming market in Kenya – and Africa – by providing not solely the "adrenaline rush" of competitors to win, but additionally delicate messages on themes like conservation, local weather change and tradition.

"When did you see an African hero in a video game for the last time?", Is interviewed Shapiro earlier than the official opening on December 14 of Usiku Games and Nairobi Game Development workplaces. Center, a collaborative workspace additionally created by Shapiro. .

"We've been looking at how to create games that do not look like what's out there now. These are made in Africa, for Africa, with African heroes in African environments … so that when someone plays it, it is reflected in the game. "

"Turkana", a video game from Usiku Games, permits gamers to direct water from the Kawalasee River to a farm.

10 video games to date

To date, Usiku Games has developed 10 video games of reflection and indifference for cell phone customers in Africa, with the purpose of selling a #GamingForGood tradition, with situations through which the participant should save poachers' lions or clear up visitors jams.

The game "Turkana" – named after the arid county of northwestern Kenya – permits gamers to direct water from the Kawalasee River to a farm whereas in "Jam Noma" they’ve the alternative to drive a minibus matatu native and handle congestion to finish their journey.

The firm, which has 16 workers, additionally employs younger folks from Nairobi's Kibera, a big casual settlement with greater than 200,000 folks, to talk and produce rap music for video games in English, Swahili and native slang, Sheng .

"Jam Noma", a video game from Usiku Games permits gamers to drive an area matatu minibus and handle congestion.

Positive messages

The firm is presently growing different video games, together with "Seedballs", a reforestation game the place the participant should drop seeds on floor targets, and "BeYOUtiful", a gown up game for women with African characters.

"These dress up games for teenage girls are very popular, but each of them has a white woman in her twenties with 'barbie' curves that can not be reached," mentioned Shapiro.

"If I'm a little Kenyan girl playing this game, the game subliminally tells me that the standard of beauty is this blonde, white and skinny woman. We think that is wrong. "

The video games are presently free, however Usiku Games plans to cost customers about 10 shillings (US $ 0.10) to play a game. The winner earns cash, a few of which may be transformed into money in an account. cellular financial savings to pay faculty or medical charges. .

"It's great Usiku Games is focused on socially responsible games," mentioned Gautam Shah, founding father of Internet of Elephants, which produces conservation video games, including that almost all of the fashionable video games give attention to subjects removed from the mainstream. 'Africa.

"I think their success will depend on the relevance of these games for local users."



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