ITTHYNK Gaming’s Impact on show at Africa Games Week 2022
It’s been just under a year since ITTHYNK Gaming was born with the goal of accelerating growth opportunities for people of colour in the African video game industry. The issue of inclusion and representation in both the local and global video game industry is one that ITTHYNK Gaming understands well. In 2021, ITTHYNK Gaming progressed to the global finals of the Map the System Competition after placing first in the regional finals hosted by the University of Cape Town in April 2021. Map the System is an initiative of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, based at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. In Map the System, participants use systems thinking as a guiding approach to understanding complex issues and challenges.
ITTHYNK Gaming’s research for Map the System used the South African video game ecosystem as a case study to determine the root causes of the underrepresentation of Africans in the video game industry. Once systemic issues that hinder prospective game development professionals from underprivileged communities in South Africa were understood, ITTHYNK Gaming launched a Video Game Development Incubator and Academy with financial support from Microsoft and Free Lives. ITTHYNK Gaming also partnered with Letsema, Ludique Works, Immortal Media, HP and Phumelela Consulting to deliver its inaugural programme that kicked off in July 2021.
Over 400 applications were received for the programme. A total of 30 students were trained and equipped with video game development skills and learnt how to use the Unreal Engine. 3 video game development studios namely Dream Shards, Alkemaiz, and SkinnyBoy Studios received incubation services to develop playable minimum viable products (“MVP”). The MVPs were on show at Africa Games Week 2022 in Cape Town on 23 February 2022. ITTHYNK Gaming’s 13-member team that flew down to Cape Town for Africa Games Week included participants from the academy, the 3 game development start-ups from the incubator, ITTHYNK Gaming and Ludique Works staff.
Dream Shard’s game “The Traveller” was an instant fan favourite amongst the Africa Games Week attendees. The 2D action-adventure game with an emphasis on exploration, storytelling, and challenging boss and enemy encounters piqued the attention of both avid gamers and potential investors. The game presentation was accompanied by a comic book that interested parties received to guide their understanding of the game world along with some stickers. The majority of the attendees displayed interest in the game’s world and would often share their knowledge with their colleagues and friends. The 1st PC demo release for the Traveller is available for download on itch.io, with the full version expected to be released in 2023. The Traveller is developed by Alexander Poone, a Centurion-based game designer.
Rapz! was another of ITTHYNK Gaming incubator games on show. Similar to The Traveller, Rapz! is based on the animated book Rapulani created by storyteller and film producer Yolanda Mogatusi, the founder and CEO of A 1000 Hugs Films and Alkemaiz. The game is about a young girl, Rapulani, with a magical afro who must endure many obstacles and a gauntlet of an adventure with her hair just to get through the day. Since its demo was released late last year, Rapz! has won a continental award in the mobile gaming category of the final African App Launchpad Cup 2021 edition.
Alkemaiz has also been selected as a winning studio for the African Games Co-Production Market by Spiel Fabrique. The goal of the African Games Co-production Market is to foster collaboration between Indie Game Studios in Africa and Europe. Yolanda and the Rapz! the team will attend a mentoring programme of 6 months, composed of several milestone events. The goals of the mentoring will be to provide support to the studios as they develop their co-development model, financing strategy, business model and relationships with potential co-producers in Europe to further finance and develop their game. Yolanda was also an Africa Games Week panellist discussing the development of the African Gaming Ecosystem, where she shared her experiences in the gaming industry to date.
All the way from Soshanguve in Pretoria, SkinnyBoy Studios closed off Africa Games Week in style by winning the 2021 NORDIC GAME DISCOVERY CONTEST. The contest is a competitive challenge where contestants compete live in an entertaining, online, round-based battle for points. Skinnyboy Studios won with their game ‘’Banana Republic’’, a semi-open world RPG (role-playing game) set in the modern age and inspired by South African politics. The player controls a former political leader embroiled in scandals that forced him to escape to a utopian land called Nkandla Islands. The team had previously made it through the intensive pre-selection rounds and will now turn their attention to the global leg of the Nordic Game Discovery Contest in Malmo, Sweden in November 2022 where they stand a chance to win great prizes and meet potential investors. Skinnyboy studios is led by Thabile Maganyane.
From the ITTHYNK Gaming Academy side, students from the “ITTHYNK Elites” team also had their playable MVP “Path of the Righteous” game on show. Team representatives Nqobile Mhlanga and Phologo Machailoe enabled the attendees to experience their action-adventure platformer game which is currently in the early stages of development.
At the heart of what ITTHYNK Gaming does is a desire to enhance the lives and livelihoods of young Africans through Games. To achieve this, ITTHYNK Gaming provides youth with scarce creative industry skills which enable them to not only excel in the growing video game development industry but also to have opportunities to apply their relevant skills to other industries. The training academy and incubator are part of a much bigger vision. ITTHYNK Gaming seeks to become Africa’s biggest video game studio and publisher focusing on the development of African mobile, PC, and console games for a global audience. The team from ITTHYNK Gaming is very excited for the future of gaming and game development training, and all aspiring game developers looking to bring their video game concepts to life or learn about video game development are encouraged to apply for our 2022 programme on ITTHYNK’s LinkedIn page or via email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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LudiqueWorks is a video game publishing and video game development company based out of Africa. With a network of 150+ studios in 30 countries across Africa.
LudiqueWorks invests in nascent video game development studios on the continent through training and funding, as well as building a growing video gaming community through the Africa Game Developers network.