MAGAZINE The Adventurous Art of Playing
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Dear Readers, We have a dream This issue is dedicated to black in all shades. We are featuring black game developers, digital artists, thinkers, studios and games. The content is a mixture between sociopolitical statements and black as an aesthetic choice in games and digital art. It›s crazy how, over 50 years after Martin Luther King’s incredible “I have a dream” speech on August 28, 1963, you can still read about oppression, violence and discrimination against black people. At an editorial meeting with Krystle Wong and Franziska Zeiner, we decided on the theme Black because of the timely brutal events by the police force against citizens of the United States of America. We were all very shocked. We’ve been asking
emergent countries in the field of digital infrastructure and technology, including Kenya, Senegal, Nigeria, Togo, South Africa and the Ivory Coast. All over, technology hubs funded by international brands, startup incubators, universities with uplifting contemporary degrees, animation studios, and game studios are popping up. People are ready to build an independent industry that will cover their growing market and also expand internationally until a much-needed success story will be celebrated and finally get the government by the balls to support this African Games Movement. This is the dream.
ourselves: Why are there no games out there that condemn these actions and put obvious facts on the table? Why should there only be yet another movie or book about it? These art forms have proved that they are able. But games are too, right? Around the same time, the website http://www.blackgamedevs.com came online. It felt like a sign. It underlined our decision to work with the theme Black for our next issue. We have asked several interesting thinkers, game creators, and artists from around the world to write about their thoughts about blackness and the use of black in society, in games and art.
Since 2012, we have been producing A MAZE. in Johannesburg. It has been a great success. We have established an annual platform for the growing games-creator scene in South Africa. But there is just one
We also wanted to feature game development in Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa boasts some of the most
Content 4 Sunshine Black
10 Essay: A Small Act of Defiance
5 It’s All About Fluidity 12 12 Little-Known Facts That Prove 6 The Rise of The Comic: Roba And Videogame Industry The Athletes in Africa 7 13 Kenya’s Gaming Essay: We All Share Generation One Story And It Is Called “Black 8 Transnationalism” Essay: Having a Game Jam? Invite Everyone.
I’m naïve enough to believe that we all have the same dream. If not, well, fuck off. I wish you a pleasant read. Peace Thorsten S. Wiedemann
14 Interview: White Is The Absence Of Something
22 Feature: Fast Forward Africa: A Digital Movement
18 Photos by Lerato Maduna
25 Indie Arena Booth
20 Games Without Colour That Will BlowYour Mind 21 Making South Africa’s First Modern Boardgame 3
thing that is very striking: the scene is dominated by the white minority in South Africa. So, to foster more diversity this year, A MAZE. Pop Ups will do its part by gathering interested young people in the townships of Alexandra and Soweto to show the potential of working in games and to connect them to the existing open community.
30 The #BlackGameDev Backstory 31 Music: Moonchild Sanelli 31 Colophon
SUNSHINE BLACK B y Z o l a Va l a s h i y a
fter an intense legal philosophy lecture I decide to quell an annoying craving for vanilla ice-cream that I had been trying to ignore all day. While navigating through the sea of faces that populate the student centre, I’m met with polite smiles and courteous nods. Despite its spurious name, the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein South Africa, carries with it a long and recent history of racial friction and disharmony – of course a common feature of many universities in the country.
While waiting for my dietary contraband, I turn to start a conversation with a lovely young lady with piercing green eyes. I introduce myself and scoff down a crunchy cone while she talks about the recent Serena Williams match (a deliberate prompt from my end after noticing her running shoes, sports tights, ponytailed hairdo and choice of purchased beverage - a sports-ade of sorts). It was her choice of words, or more aptly, a lack thereof, that struck my curiosity. She used every possible word to describe Serena Williams as a successful public personality and female role model except for the word “black.” I ask why she was consciously avoiding the word “black” to describe Serena Williams – an identity trait, I think, Ms. Williams would probably proudly claim. She tells me confidentially: “My parents said I should not use the word black when talking about black people.”
The purpose of my color assignment is clear. This was never about accurately describing skin pigmentation or colouration – it was about social and political ringfencing to distinguish fellow compatriots and political constituencies from ‘the Other’ – usually to the prejudice and exclusion of others. “Black” isn’t just a physical disassociation from reality. It’s also a cultural and ideological one, with a clear agenda to degrade a specific human identity to uncivilised, unintelligible or subhuman status.
“An existential crisis served on a platter if there ever was one,” I think to myself. As we draw the conversation to an end and exchange pleasantries about meeting again in the future, I revisit this same old, intimate inquiry of mine in solitude. I don’t generally subscribe to using the word “black.” In fact, I often reject using the word as part of my identity. I am 100% African, but “black” has nothing to do with me. You can’t derive anything about my personality from that label, short of stereotyping. Not my music taste, my political views, values or ideology. You’re only going to get to know these things about me if we have a real conversation.
It is by no happenstance that the word “black” became a base definition for a people, mostly of African or Australian Aboriginal ancestry. Early social programming through popular classical works such as by Mark Twain, Joseph Conrad and Walt Disney have made it a habit of common speech to use ethnolinguistic exonyms, i.e. an outsider’s name for ethnic groups. This is in contrast to endonyms, the name used by the group itself.
It is also an inaccurate observation about the hue of my skin. When someone calls or refers to me as “black,” I feel immediately struck by the yoke of centuries of Eurocentric notions neither defined by myself nor those like me. The term leaves no space for my identity and I feel totally disassociated from the construct. Yet at the same time, I feel a palpable discomfort when that very aspect about me is not acknowledged – as though a big chunk is missing and that big chunk is regarded as unimportant to see.
Maybe I could construct an identity outside of social parameters – completely of my own design. Just like centuries of women in the past who had to write under pseudonyms to avoid prejudice, I too have to partition my identity beyond the corporeal. In the 21st century, we hold three identities. The inner personal realm, the public external identity we project, and the digital identity – the ego, superego and digital ego as it were.
Have you ever looked up the word “black” in the dictionary? Let me help. Usually, the first characterizations are “lack of hue and brightness or absence of light.” As an adjective, black is often synonymous with words such as “dark, hidden or evil” and connotes tragic or disastrous events, causing despair or pessimism. When used to describe a person’s state of mind it can mean that one is “full of gloom or misery,” or “very depressed” or “brings about feelings of fear, anxiety.” When used to describe conduct, black can mean “wicked, shifty or socially questionable behaviour.” But if you look up the word “white”? A plethora of pleasant depictions related to purity, light and the like. The thought suddenly makes my snow-coloured ice-cream difficult to swallow.
Of the three, we have more freedom to craft and control the digital identity – to digitally construct pieces of who we already are with pieces of we would like to be. As I try to deconstruct the social racial schema and conceive of my own identity outside its vice grip, I have sometimes come to believe that the digital realm has become the only place in which I can be free from this superimposition. But would I want that? At some stage, we like that the three identities can be reconciled and we recognise a part of ourselves in them. 4
I once selected a social media platform that I imagined would serve as my digital birth place. I conceived a Zola 2.0, a digital projection of myself devoid of notions of color identity. I feel elated by the idea that I could live a prejudice-free cyber life, and that this experience would in turn vindicate my own conceptions of a colorised world. Online, my friends and circles are determined purely on similarities in interest. The algorithmic gods do not see colour. Alas, there are limits to my pixelskinned digital persona. Once I turn on my browser, news of the Rachel Dolezal saga can be found on every feed. A robust conversation on slavery, apartheid and ‘blackness’ is spreading across cyber space. The color-coded binary virus is everywhere. Immediately, my world is dyed black and white again. I consider myself a smart young lad, a graduate of the University of Wikipedia, but my conversational insights and comments receive no affirmatory retweets unless I make my racial identity known. These conversations are loaded with the notion: you cannot talk about what it’s like to be black unless you are black. The harmony of my trichotomous identities is disturbed. I, like Rachel Dolezai, only wanted to revel in the glory of having for once fully chosen my own identity and not having it ascribed to me by man or state. All to find that the world had already created and entombed me from birth, according to an inescapable template of identities. I crave for the peace that comes with a de-colorized mind. I have to create that space within myself so that my true identity, unique and idiosyncratic, can radiate in the real word. I want to become the clear lens through which the essence of ‘I’ can be recognized, unencumbered by miscoloration. But before that can happen, I have to take off my colored glasses too. Only then can colour melt away like ice-cream in the sun, and a true essence can arise from a meeting of the “I’s”.
don’t remember a time when video games weren’t a part of my normal routine. As a child, I spent hours rolling through dystopian lands as a blue hedgehog, exploring crevices for rewards and saving wildlife from destruction. As an adolescent, I generated fear-inducing roller coasters, extracting fried food from the stomachs of thousands of theme park attendees. Now, I make my own games for fun and self-expression. By my teenage years, I’d played dozens if not hundreds of games. My body was changing, and I constantly worried about my appearance. Existing as both a Black person and a woman was an arduous challenge, especially when I began to notice how the media treated people who looked like me. I learned what it meant to be Black from my parents. My mother and father are younger baby boomers who celebrated Kwanzaa until the early 2000’s, work at not-for-profit organizations, and heavily value technology. They helped me understand that Blackness was flexible. In our household, Blackness didn’t just refer to the way you walked, talked, or moved your neck. You could be Black and an astronaut, a writer, painter, or physicist. In video games, it seemed like Black people could only be dancers, slaves, drug lords, prisoners, or low-class workers.
Fifteen years later, Blackness in video games is still often absent or poorly portrayed. The reason is obvious to most people: the American game development scene lacks diversity. Both indie and AAA developers are overwhelmingly White and male. Even the majority of women in game development are White. Approximately 75 percent of White Americans have entirely White social networks. How can most of the industry design nonstereotypical Black characters? They haven’t spent time with Black people in a social setting, and empathy often requires association.
Like all humans, Black people are just people. They adapt to and exist within various other cultures. The opportunities for character creation are endless. Many creators subconsciously model the art they make after their own identities. As a result, self-inspired character design in a low-diversity industry has been contributing directly to low-diversity games.
I don’t expect the game development industry to be immediately flooded with Black people who will fix everything. Most initiatives that are in place probably won’t affect industry demographics for at least another ten years. In the meantime, here are some things that all game developers can do to help mend issues related to diversity and representation in games and game development.
Marginalized players feel encouraged to play games in which the characters positively represent them. For example, the main character in Prism Shell – a game I created with my team at Brooklyn Gamery – is a Black woman named Beretta. Beretta’s appearance on the game’s title screen has made a palpable difference in how the game is perceived by marginalized players, especially those who don’t openly identify as fans of action games. All games can benefit from diversity because all games benefit from an increased audience.
Game developers of all colors, including White ones, need to design Black characters that feel less like caricatures and more like human beings with positive aspects and flaws. When designing a Black character, preconceived notions about Blackness must be ignored. Instead, research Black cultures (there are many!) and consume media made by Black people. Data often helps creators to generate constraints in which they can better design.
With each video game, developers choose whether representation helps or hurts players. With each conversation we have about games and game development, we choose whether to help or hurt marginalized creators. Regardless of skin color, gender, or any other quality, all game developers have a stake in improving the diversity of video games and the industry itself. I look forward to a future in which Black characters in games reflect the lesson my parents taught me: Blackness is fluid and does not take one single form.
There are hundreds of Black game developers who are currently in the pipeline and need support. Many social media conversations regarding diversity in games fail to recognize marginalized game developers. Marginalized creators struggle to reach the same level as people in more privileged positions. Black game developers need additional support and mentorship in order to continue making games. I created blackgamedevs.com for this purpose. The website can be used to find published games by Black creators, as well as mentees, collaborators, and conference speakers.
I didn’t see many Black people in the games I played as a child or teenager, but when they existed, they were composed of generic stereotypes. Most of them were beefy, stupid thugs. Others were sassy fingersnappers. Even non-human characters were still subject to stereotypes: Knuckles, a red echidna who raps in the Sonic Adventure series and has dreadlock-like spines, is often portrayed as a violent bonehead.
I t ’s A l l A b o u t Fluidity By Catt Small
Roba Mutwafy is an ex-con turned crime-fighter after 10 soul-searching years in Kamiti Prison. At first his sole-purpose is to exact revenge on his ex-boss Rashid Mwamba, but now all of Kenya’s underworld is in his cross-hairs. Roba was originally written and illustrated by Chief Nyamweya
Link to complete the story of Roba #4 “Roba and the Athletes”: www.facebook.com/Robacomic www.kenyanoir.com
By Chief Nyamweya
n unintentional experiment was carried out on Kenya’s urban youth born during and after the 1980’s. Whereas previous generations had only enjoyed the haggling trade of loud and colourful open-air markets and bazaars, many in this urban generation would instead gravitate to a new temple of modernity – the shopping mall. Keen to differentiate themselves, these malls (most notably The Sarit Centre) lined their corridors with arcade games which entranced toddlers and teens alike. Racers, shooters, sports games were conveniently located near game consoles and comic book vendors. This was the soil of Kenya’s gaming culture that would eventually pulsate into schools and neighbourhoods. The playtime rituals of this generation included prolonged meditations inside strange new alternate universes created by SEGA, Nintendo, Sony and others. These universes and the actions of the avatars within them were as real to them as the socalled “real world” with its countless distortions. This was the ground in which the seeds of Kenya’s gaming industry were planted.
The Players There’s something desperately unnerving about moving through spaces in the city I know so well as the sole survivor of an urban apocalypse. I am playing Andrew Kaggia’s Nairobi X. The strangely exuberant Kenyan voice in my ear urges me on as I hunt down aliens in the bowels of the Kenyatta International Conference Centre – the crown of Nairobi’s skyline. My avatar’s name is “Otero,” or Sheng for “Badass,” a name he wears perfectly as his laser and machine gun lay waste to a city of aliens hiding behind sponsorship banners. Kaggia, a prolific 3D animator and game developer who has been honing his craft for over 14 years, is – like many digital artists of this generation – self-taught.
The FuTure Content development is on the rise in Kenya. But you wouldn’t know it by looking at the “Africa Rising” headlines, which are more preoccupied with commodities and infrastructure than with intellectual property.
Nathan Masyuko, the founder of NexGen and After 6 Labs has dedicated himself to the promotion of a gaming culture and the “gamification” of ordinary life. His started down this path after meeting professional gamers at an online gamers’ tournament in China. This path has seen him win awards and share a stage with Larry King at Games for Change for his development of the Android game Haki–Shield and Defend in concert with South Africabased Afroes Transformational Games. He is circumspect about the heavy involvement of corporate sponsors in the local gaming scene. “It hints at the growing awareness of the power of gaming,” Masyuko says. “The global gaming industry overtook the film industry by revenue a long time ago. It will take some investment for us to hit critical mass.”
This growing awareness is undeniable. One example is the success of Ma3Racer (www.ma3racer.com), a racing game by Planet Rackus in which the player is a matatu (minibus) driver. The game draws on the considerable cultural power of matatu culture which is an unrivalled engine of music, language and iconography. In a bid to drive audience growth, Wesley Kirinya of Leti Games’ (www.letiarts.com) has been partnering up with other game-developers around the continent, most notably Ghana, in order to crosspollinate Africa’s growing games market. The list is growing everyday as new start-ups such as ScrinArts Studios (www.scrinarts.com) are hard at work testing the potential of game engines such as Unity. 7
The intersection of high literacy, mobile phones, cheap internet, digital migration and local legislation has led to a massive content gap for which Kenya’s legacy media has found itself utterly unprepared for. One consequence has been a massive migration of talent and treasure to new media platforms by advertisers, educators and anyone trying to get a minute of the fleeting attention of a generation evolving at warpspeed. Yesterday’s challenges of underinvestment, slow technology transfers, and the absence of defined career-paths are transforming into strengths. However, much work still remains for the country in improving training, especially in game design and development. Nevertheless, the “scramble for Africa’s imagination” is underway, and the likely custodians of the information empires of tomorrow are walking avatars in Superman t-shirts. All bets are off as to what the universe they create will look like, but something tells me it will be much more explosive.
E S S AY
Having a Game Jam? B y A n j a Ve n t e r
o to any games meetup in Cape Town and you will see the usual suspects: young white men who have had all the privileges our unique South African history has afforded them. White women are slowly inching in on the pie, but the participation of people of color in the games industry in South Africa leaves much to be desired – and nowhere more so than in the city of Cape Town. As a PhD candidate researching creative cultures and technologies at the University of Cape Town, I started with this informal research question three years ago: Why is the creative industry in Cape Town so damn, well, white? In 2012, I explored the video gaming ecologies in Ocean View, a previously delineated “Coloured” township on the Southern reaches of the peninsula. Despite space, time, and money constraints, it was obvious that young people enjoyed an immersive and locally well-networked gaming culture. Yet few of these young people participate in global gaming communities or become gamemakers in their own right.
Black games, whiTe guilT In African game development, the majority of titles either feed into global gaming trends led by white African men, or fall into the “games for good” or “serious games” repertoire – yet another Euromericanhatched idea to foster “developmental” goals in the African context, well-funded by international development agencies.
aParTheid is sTill alive In this way, the segregationist modus operandi of Apartheid is still alive in 2015. Alternative voices in creative production are muted before they even have a chance to emerge. And this happens during the most formative years: only 1% of young people in South Africa are able to study visual arts and information technologies until a schoolleaving level. After that, the fight for economic survival is often more pressing than expanding one’s visual and software literacies.
Such games do more to appease global white guilt and promote ideological assimilation, than actually inspire and sustain participation from actual Africans. Exceptions such as Kuluya (Nigeria), Maliyo Games (Nigeria), Kiro’o (Cameroon) and Leti Games (Kenya) are still far and few between. Increasingly, it is becoming downright unacceptable for the industry to continue on this trajectory.
Today, representation of Black people in games remains entrenched in offensive stereotypes (the jive-talkin’ thug/hooker/victim/slave is pretty common) while most of the protagonists are white. Many factors play into this tired media trope, but to a large extent this can be explained by how few Black developers there are in the industry. Only 2.5% of industry developers globally are people of colour. As a result, most games are written and designed from a western male perspective. These games are then developed and played on software and hardware that originate from these contexts too.
The magic oF game jams So what can the existing South African games community do? How do we get more people making games, sharing knowledge and not simply consuming western titles that don’t speak to the lived reality of local players? How do we decolonize gaming? The answer, I think, might lie in game jams. The game jam shares much in common with music jamming, in which you have a professionals or amateurs contribute to a central musical theme. Improvised, in-the-moment and loose, this mode of production offers a “bring what you can” attitude – compose while you learn. It has a wide range of incarnations across most global cultures dating back thousands of years – from Jazz, Djembe drumming, Indian Raga, and any form of modern/post-modern remixing. This mode of knowledge production exists in informal learning practice too. Communities of Practice (COP) and the Guild model are two examples of peripheral learning. By applying certain skill sets within a creative genre, newcomers learn from old-timers, becoming Masters on their own terms and often challenging existing paradigms and forming their own distinct signature. Through this hands-on informal mode of learning-throughdoing, n00bs become l33t, applying the knowledge learned, and in turn, attracting their own apprentices to pass knowledge on to. Jamming also invokes the Scandinavian tradition of “co-design,” which fundamentally changed the structure of Scandinavian industries. By scrapping any notions of hierarchy in their workplace systems, this incarnation of jamming dictates that all participants have their own knowledges to contribute, and are experts in their own (albeit nonaccredited) fields. It’s very Ubuntu, really. Sharing knowledge and expertise, and hearing divergent voices, whilst moving towards a central design goal has an unprecedented emancipatory effect – furthering the ideals of equality. This mode of jamming leverages the cultural, emotional, spiritual and practical needs of participants to point at emergent ways of creativity, and by extension, of being and belonging.
THE NEW ART EVENT IN THE DIGITAL AGE
Fresh PersPecTives Game jams can inspire participation from a wider demographic of people. Initiatives such as the Danish ‹Girl Game Workshop’ have successfully applied this model of creating and learning to empower young girls from marginal contexts. Their workshops on the West Bank at Anabta, Nablus and Balata (the largest refugee camp in the region), have succeeded in demystifying code among a group of young girls in Palestine. The outcome of these jams had similar ingredients to games made elsewhere – designed in PhotoShop, compiled in Unity, and music composed in Sibelius – yet these games were unlike any existing titles. The stories were fresh, the mechanics new. While learning valuable skills such as coding, designing and composing, these girls succeeded in showing and teaching others about their own lived experiences through an immersive medium. Locally, researcher Marion Walton is busy developing coding syllabi for mobile phones under the “Creative Code” banner. She teaches high-school students in Makhaza, Khayelitsha, how to code and design through remixing and re-skinning games, in his way relaying a number of creative literacies through a familiar and popular medium. Their first title, a Mario mod called Khazatown Blues, uses the famous platform to share the daily life of a high school kid who has to navigate homework, teachers, bullies and gangsters in the township.
doing iT righT These examples are great, but still pretty isolated. Games have the ability to communicate across social and cultural boundaries. To play, we have to trust our fellow players, we have to trust that they will abide by the same rules as us. It’s time that game development in South Africa takes up this spirit of inclusivity and expands the magic circle. Games do more than carry the ideologies from which they were born, or simulate experience and tell stories: they create models for collaboration and participation. As a games community we need to share our knowledge freely and move beyond our centers of privilege. Jamming, if done in the right spirit, can offset some of the thorny inequalities that keep so many gamers from potentially making the next generation of awesome local games.
11.8. 2015– 17.4.2016
Maybe by jamming together we can change what it means to be a gamer and a game-maker in South Africa. Forget the existing models of what a gaming community should be, and get really excited about that.
The Interactive Exhibition at ZKM | Karlsruhe
Sponsors of the ZKM
Partner of the ZKM
Funded by the
Invite Everyone. 9
E S S AY
A Small Act of Deﬁance
By Allan Cudicio
In the 1980s, Amiga’s version of Tetris paired the famous coloured bricks with pictures of Russia such as the Kremlin or an astronaut. Was this necessary? Did we really need to know if Tetris was an abstract representation of the USSR’s growing power or the embodiment of Yuri Gagarin’s thoughts as he stares down at Earth? Not all games need settings – Tetris most likely being one of them – but most do. What would Bioshock be without the decadent city of Rapture? Or Candy Crush without its sugary world? That said, we end up seeing the same settings again and again. Western or Japanese historical settings, Scandinavia-based fantasy worlds, Eurocentric sci-fi and so forth. (Considering current demographic trends, is it really reasonable to expect all future humans to be white?) There are surely many good reasons for this. Most game developers are Westerners or East Asians and consequently more aware of these cultures and locations. Most players are based in these parts of the world and therefore share a common understanding of these settings with the developers. The Dragons of Skyrim do not require much explanation to Western players, just like the appearance of samurai Jubei Yagyu in Onimusha (though it conveys many more subtleties to a Japanese player).
Yes, India had colonialism as well. But the level of destruction and displacement it brought to many parts of Africa by far outstrips what happened in Asia. Most Africans have abandoned traditional religions and are increasingly using European languages for their everyday interactions. They know too little about their history. Kumasi, the historical capital of the powerful Ashanti Kingdom (in present-day Ghana) was razed to the ground about a century ago. Nowadays, most Ghanaians barely know what the elegant ancient architecture of the city looked like or that in the town centre there used to be a royal mausoleum, replete with symbolism and ancient traditions. Imagine London without Buckingham Palace and Westminster, Rome without the Coliseum or Paris without the Louvre and Eiffel Tower.
Players are, of course, often exposed to unfamiliar settings. As Le Blanc famously said in his “8 Kinds of Fun,” one major pleasure of many games is discovery, where players can enjoy “games as uncharted territory.” This is why we love learning about Game of Thrones’ Westeros or Dead Space’s Ishimura. Many writers, game designers and storytellers go to great lengths to create interesting, vast new settings. However, as a game developer of African heritage, I can’t avoid noticing that elements from the African continent are almost never part of these imaginings. It would be too easy to blame the lack of a strong African developer community or to point to the small – yet growing – African player base. I believe that there are deeper, more troubling reasons.
As harsh as it may sound, let us face it: colonialism and the slave trade have left a double legacy. Westerners are still unconsciously influenced by the rhetoric of Africa as an uncivilised land and Africans themselves have not truly recovered from the enfeeblement of their cultures.
A few weeks ago here in Berlin, I decided to ask a few game design students if they could suggest a few themes for games based on Indian and African cultures. Both are areas with similarly underdeveloped gaming scenes. I received many ideas for India-inspired games, including reincarnation, a few Hindu gods, the caste system and even Gandhi.
I think this issue should matter to all of us, not just to Africans. This large landmass, which is the very birthplace of our species, has so much diversity and beauty to be explored. Each culture is the result of countless iterations of human experiences and expressions. Behind the stories, symbols and aesthetics of a people’s tradition, there are universal human themes that speak to all of us. No medium, including games, should ignore this.
But when it came to Africa, the students really struggled. The Savannah came up, obviously, and the most sincere had the courage to mention civil war. I heard almost nothing on Sub-Saharan cultures and aesthetics.
The absorption of Japanese themes into global gaming culture is a wonderful example of how a medium can be enriched by diversity. But African countries currently do not have the economic might of Japan and have gone through so many kinds of domination that have all severely weakened awareness of their cultures.
Interestingly, some quick research on “Africa in videogames” yields mostly FPS levels or Safari games as results. It almost looks as if Africa has no cultures, just lions and wars. This is telling of what the main issue is: colonialism and its consequences. 10
Adding African cultures into the toolbox of developers would unleash new ways of creating memorable games. It would do good as well, inspiring Africans to be prouder of their traditions and to make more games. Additionally, it would put the medium at the forefront of exploring an incredibly underrepresented part of the word, proving that gaming is not just cutting-edge technologically but culturally innovative as well. Books and films have often pioneered exploration of lesser known cultures, influencing society and empowering minorities. Gaming, too, can do this. Kirikou is one of the rare examples of a non-stereotypical Africa in games. Developed by French studio Étranges Libellules, it is a platformer based on the fairytale-like cartoon of an African child who has to fight an evil witch. The themes, aesthetic and music are typically West African, and even if the gameplay is not extremely original, the atmosphere is refreshingly different. Making a game with an African setting is currently more challenging than with a European or Japanese one. There is less available information and existing game references are almost non-existent. I can understand why an AAA developer would not want to take the risk but for indies? This is an amazing opportunity. Creating an African game is a small act of defiance against the legacies of colonialism. It gives voice to cultures that have been oppressed for centuries and it enriches our game dev language. Look for books, view films, visit your museum, listen to African music, speak with Africans and ask them about the African stories they were not taught at school when they had to learn about Napoleon and Caesar. Make an African game!
Ku m a s i ’s n ow l o s t a r c h i t e c t u r e , t h e s e t t i n g f o r a n e w r p g
In 2015, Menagames.com, the first conference on the videogame industry in North Africa and the Middle East took place in Lebanon under the patronage of the Minister of Telecommunications in Lebanon.
Despite the stereotypes conveyed by the media narrative on Africa, several stories are reshaping this generally negative perception inside and outside the continent. One of those stories is #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou initiative on Twitter. Another of those stories is the gaming industry. Here are some facts that justify the increasing formalization of the videogame industry in Africa.
12 By Kofi Sika Latzoo
With more than USD 113,093,835 million in annual revenue, South Africa is the top-earning African economy in the video game industry followed by Egypt and Nigeria.
Tunisia is home to a League of Legend players’ community of more than 30,000 players.
Morocco has one of the few telecommunication operators that has developed locally produced mobile video games, such as Trombiya on Android. Inwi, another mobile operator, was elected multiple times by Technomag Morocco ICT as the most innovative company in services.
Senegal is the only French-speaking country of Africa where the International Association of Video Game Developers (IGDA) is present. Its aim is to help Senegal-based game developers behind titles like Ha Buggy and Cross Dakar City penetrate the international market. There are three IGDA chapters operating in Africa: Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa. A littleknown fact: the Senegalese singer and vocalist Baaba Maal is the only African artist who has contributed to the soundtrack of AAA video game Farcry 2, a Ubisoft bestseller in 2009.
Developed in Cameroon, Aurion: Legacy of Kori-Odan is the only African videogame to be greenlighted by a community vote on the online game sales platform STEAM. Its director of production, the Cameroonian Olivier Madiba is part of the 30under30 Forbes ranking in Africa.
LittLe-Known Facts that Prove the rise oF the videogame industry in aFrica 12
In May 2015, Ethiopia became the first country in the world to host a hackathon on gamification for social impact thanks to the German development cooperation GIZ during the tenth edition of the eLearning Africa Conference. Thirty participants from all over the world took part in this hackathon to develop mobile apps within four days.
Algeria is the only African country to have participated in the Electronic Sports World Cup in 2006. The ESWC-preferred e-sport disciplines of Algerians are Counter Strike, Pro Evolution Soccer and Gran Turismo. Gamecamp Algiers is the most dynamic videogame event of the Maghreb region, with performances in Tunisia and Libya.
Chawi’s Life is the first set of 100% African emoticons available on LINE instant messaging. According to MIT, this mobile messaging app is amongst of the top 50 most innovative companies in the world. It also develops its own mobile games, such as Ranger LINE.
Each year more than 18 African cities take part in the world’s largest hackathon organized by NASA: the International Space Apps Challenge (http://2015.spaceappschallenge. org/). One of the latest challenges was to prototype an educational mobile videogame on the dangers of asteroids and Mars exploration. The most dynamic cities in terms of participation were Lagos and Abuja, who competed at an international level with cities like NYC.
With over a thousand gamers in 10 countries, the #Gamecamp network is one of the largest community of gamers in Africa and the fastestgrowing in francophone Africa. The most active cities are Algiers, Oran, Conakry and Tangier.
With currently over 700,000 downloads, the mobile game Sambisa Assault is one of the most downloaded titles in Nigeria.
E S S AY
By Anna-Theresia Bohn
t may come as a surprise, but all stories always come down to one shared pattern – direct or indirect experience of discrimination as a political minority.
I’ll never forget the stories from my time in New York City. How my neighbor moved from Puerto Rico to the United States as a child. How invested my students were in their African-American department at college. How I struggled to explain Austro-Hungarian history to my Texan gym-trainer when he asked why I was raised bilingual only to find out we shared a similar family story. How I suffered weekly failed test-runs of my room-mate’s cooking whenever she tried to reproduce her grandmother’s Korean dishes. How I almost kicked out a visiting German friend during a heated discussion over her cynical remarks on political correctness only to hear her ordering something in Polish in a bakery in Greenpoint the next day.
That trite old adage is true: do not judge a book by its cover, a person by his or her appearance. It is so important to give everyone the space to tell his or her own complex life story. And what remarkable stories they will tell! And how much we have in common! It was Suheir Hammar’s poetry that taught me the use of “black” within Black Transnationalism.” Born in Palestine, Hammad now lives in Brooklyn. In her first poetry collection Born Palestinian, Born Black, Hammad suggests her definition of “black”: Black // like opposite of white / the other / Indians in England, Africans in America, / Algerians in France and Palestinians in Israel / the shvartza labor of cleaning toilets and / picking garbage
Within the Black Transnationalism discourse, you can finally turn away from formulaic ethnic and genealogical descriptions such as “AfricanAmerican” or “Arabian-American” in favor of a unisonous voice and a willfully provocative use of “black”. It raises awareness of global structures of power, of discrimination as a global grievance, and of the oppression of all those who do not belong to a white supremacy. In this way, scattered groups all over the world that identify themselves as “black” may enter into a larger community. The Black Transnational community is made up of those who are excluded and disadvantaged, and who, in the specific situation they live in, are not offered the freedom to pursue happiness.
With these lines, Suheir Hammad points out the political dimension underlying the term “black”. She defines “black” broadly as everything that is different, that is Other. Her use of the colors black and white highlight the provocatively homogenizing binary labels. Although she names nations and ethnicities, these are less important than the shared experience of discrimination. Hammad takes it a step further by playing with the Yiddish “shvartza”, using “black” to refer to illicit employment as a consequence of systemic political discrimination. Through a shared experience of discrimination, she shifts the meaning of “black” from being a signifier of color to a reference to a political cause. The reader is confronted with the uneasy revelation that
If you’re thinking this sounds a lot like planetary citizenship, you wouldn’t be far off the mark. Black Transnationalists have usually experienced multiple migrations across the globe, suffered exile and displacement, such that their individual experiences shape their morality as planetary citizens and motivate them to engage in politics with the purpose of improving social conditions of life. Let me be clear: Identifying with Black Transnationalism does not demand an abandonment of one’s individual life story or genealogical identifications, such as being
Hammad has claimed the international stage of political poetry and performance for about 15 years. There are numerous video recordings of Hammad online, documenting her being among the first to speak out in the face of changing politics such as in the aftermath of 9/11 and during the Arab Spring. Now in her early forties, Hammad is a tender woman with full hair and distinct jewelry, speaking in a melodic voice, moving her hands to stress her rhythm. As Hammad is supported by sudden cheers, she grows louder, repeats verses, engages her audience to join her. Women move their lips to Hammad’s verses. She is one of the few female spoken word poets who have claimed her public sphere of poetry and activism. Her voice has become an advocate for the oppressed, her
We All Share One Story And It Is Called “Black Transnationalism” discrimination against minorities is a systemic global practice.
African-American or RumanianGerman. All concepts of identification are fluid. The individual needs to be free to form political identities, and these are formed between a biographically shaped identity and a transnational approach, both of which transcend the confines of any national or racial identity.
Around the world, marginalized groups experience manipulation and dismissal as part of a larger narrative. If you are born a political minority, you are structurally guaranteed a likely negation of aspirations and a limited set of life choices. Understanding “black” in this way unlocks the label from specific ethnic and national identifiers. Instead, all those who experience discrimination, inequality, oppression and dehumanization are part of transnational “black” community. That’s Black Transnationalism – a way to acknowledge this pattern and channel the diversity of individual voices to form a united voice against discrimination.
And you know what? The creative tensions within the dynamic process of forming an identity are what give us authentic artistic expression. Such an authentic voice will always be a clear advocate for the freedom of speech. With such an emphasis on voice, it is unsurprising to see the success of artists of Black Transnationalism, artists like Suheir Hammad, as they engage in performance poetry. 13
language has gained political power. That comes with a promise to push and challenge words, labels, and definitions. We are political beings. And as political beings, we cannot help being aware that our phrases influence political reality. Words matter. Our use of language directly forms our perception and likewise our perception is mirrored in our language. The problem of who has a story to tell and who has the voice to tell it is still a complicated one. But I nevertheless believe that a transnational community of storytellers is a powerful way to responsibly address the state we live in. Then maybe the question of who’s speaking may be answered with: a voice who has been silenced too long.
ou know how science says darkness is the absence of light? It’s not like that for Devine Lu Linvega. A self-taught visual artist, music composer and game developer, Linvega’s work has a singular polyvalent quality. Every piece feels like a slice of experience taken out from a multilayered stack of reality, as though each piece was once conceived in one dimension and then expressed in another. His blacks, his dominant palette, pulse with energy,
I n t E rv I E w not unlike the deeply concentrated pigments of the ancient Tantric paintings of India. You know how science says dark surfaces absorb light? Well, Linvega’s blacks radiate. They are the building blocks of his cosmogony. They don’t stay still. They throb. It’s almost midnight when the video livestream from Devine Lu Linvega starts to fill up my browser window. We’re speaking from opposite ends of the world and on my screen the pale black-clad Linvega is lit up from
An Inter view with Devine Lu Linvega
To begin at the beginning, tell us: why black? I used to use colors. But then at some point I started to strip everything down. Writing, composition, everything. Every word that I could remove that was not helping the story. I removed all the adverbs and adjectives, everything that is just fluff and that hides the idea. From writing, I started doing that with music. I wanted to be more empty and straightforward. And then I started doing the same with illustration. I think I’m almost becoming a caricature of myself. ‘Cos people are like, you just use black and white. But I use colors also. I just don’t want to use them carelessly. i find your work magnetic. Peaceful, even. what does the color black mean to you? A lot of people see it as a negative thing. But for me, I write in black. I fill in a page with black. When I add this color, it adds something. A lot of people say white is the absence of something. But for me, black is the ultimate something. is there a universality to black? is there a philosophy, a single story, of the color, that we can all understand without words? I don’t think so. A lot of people look at my work and think it’s dark but I don’t see it as dark at all. There’re two ways to look at it. When you mix colors together, the process is either additive or subtractive. If you add them all together, you will get white. That’s true for computers and most systems. When you add up the RGB codes for blue (0, 0, 255), red (255, 0, 0), and green (0, 255, 0), you get 255, 255, 255 – that’s the color white. But in reality, if you were to add up all the colors you would get black. So some people see black as an absence of a thing. But I see it as a thing. so, in a way, you understand the color black the same way it’s pro-
behind, softly framed by the late morning sun. Linvega has three black circles tattooed on the front of his neck, just over the Adam’s apple. The circles are an emblem of his work, a triumvirate of his chosen mediums. The soft-spoken French-accented Canadian quit formal education after high school but has since established himself as an extraordinary autodidact in three disciplines. To help me navigate his world, Linvega switches views so that I can
see his screen. We go to his website, his very first coding project and an intimate personal wiki documenting his life’s learnings and work, a space a journalist once described as “a tear in the familiar.” For the sole purpose of getting to know Linvega’s work, xxiivv.com is the beginning and the end. It strikes me vaguely that in this brief digital connection between night and day, we are tumbling through Linvega’s starkly meditative world like a domino hurtling through space.
WHITE IS THE ABSENCE OF SOMETHING
B y K r y s t l e Wo n g
duced in reality. others only see it the way computers would. Photoshop sees white as all the colors. Reality is the opposite. Sometimes I explain this to people and they’re like: “Shit yeah that’s true!”
this for me somehow. For instance, I can think in languages that only I can understand. That sort of thing. I like that I can do something that is just for me, once in a while. There’s a lot of work I don’t show and that I just make for myself. I often think, like, if I were stranded on a desert island, would I still be making linguistics stuff or music or art? And I think yeah. Because I’ve grown in a way that allows me to make stuff just for me. When I first left school I thought: “Fuck, I’m so screwed.” All my friends were moving on and going to university. But I just told myself: “I’ll do whatever I feel like doing and I’ll become so good at it that I won’t have to do things that I didn’t want to.” And that worked. I was really lucky in that aspect.
Besides making art, you also create languages, time-telling apps, music… you have even invented your own shorthand. what unifies these interests of yours? I think it’s all the same. My mediums are audio, visual and programming, but my themes are dimensions and travel. It’s what inspires me. I use a lot of black and white now because it’s so contrasted, because it’s so clear. I’m trying to make all my work super obvious and super straightforward. I’m not trying to disguise it. I’m not aiming for pretty. I’m aiming for function. I think dimensions and time are the only truth. I would say death is the only god. It’s the only thing that we can rely on. In the end there’s only this.
i’m going to ask this on a whim. do you have synesthesia? Yeah actually I do. When I listen to music it’s like watching movies. I see sounds as colors.
what are some of your influences? Mostly books. Flatland by Edwin Abbott Abbott. The Morning of the Magician, a French book about natural things that we can perceive as magic. I love alchemy for its whimsical aspects. A lot of Borges stuff. Mark Twain. Number 44. Linguistic stuff. If you look at my last album, the tracks are named after cities from these influences. There’s a city from Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. There’s another city from the books of Jorge Luis Borges. Then another city from a comic book called Obscure Cities by François Schuiten. This album is a tribute to all the things that inspire me. All this inspiration seeps into my universe.
wow, that really explains a lot. I think it’s nice. A lot of my interest in music and time comes from that. I’ve always struggled with the concept that music is temporal. A millionth of a second of music is not music – it’s just a tone. But color can live in a millionth of a second. I always felt it was kinda weird that music gave me colors even though it can only exist over a period of time. I struggle with the mixed sensation that a combination of tones could actually manifest itself in a millionth of a second. Tell me more about how you experience sound. does it have to be music? what about language and, well, noise? Well I guess sometimes when I hear a foreign languages, it’s not the linguistic part of my brain that catches up on that but the sensory part. It’s not exactly that i see colors. It’s more like...tones. Morse code. Before I became fluent in Japanese, it felt in
you’re interested in so many things. dimensions, perspective, layers of reality. what is it that draw you to these themes? I’m thinking like, escapism, kind of. There is hope in getting lost in all of 14
some way like I was hearing music. Not constant music but intermittent bursts of music and noise. So it would go like: sometimes music, sometimes noise. It reminded me of like when your speakers catch cell phone interference and makes modem-like sounds, glitch sounds. This appeals to me a lot. I approached Japanese like this. Now I’m learning Russian full-time and I think it has a lot of sound and music to it too. But it’s not really about speech, it’s about sound and music. you’re a self-taught polymath in three disciplines doing all the things you love. what are you doing differently from everybody else? Nothing. The idea is just that if you do something long enough, you’ll become good at it. Just by doing the thing you like, you beat anybody else doing it as a pastime. If you want to be a programmer yet you’re working full-time doing something else and you only do programming at night, then it gets really hard. I also think it’s so good to bring something outside a medium inside a medium. For example, if you play video games all day and you start making video games, your video games are only going to be a rehash of the things you consume. So I think it’s really important that, whatever you do, you bring something new into the medium. Mix up the disciplines.
Normally based in Japan, where he speaks the language fluently, Linvega is spending the summer in Canada. But all that will change soon. In January, Linvega is planning to sell everything he has and move onto a sailboat. He should be around Panama in the summer and in Asia around fall. In the meantime, a fragment of his reality can be experienced through xxiivv.com
Illustration by Devine Lu Linvega 15
Illustration by Aubrey Serr
Photos by Lerato Maduna
’ve always been drawn to black. I admire its simplicity and presence, even though technically it is the absence of reflected visible light or the complete absorption thereof. Fun fact: there once were two names for it in Middle English: swart for dull black and blaek for luminous black. For me, this is a good example of how words do not encapsulate meaning but are actively shaping
it. I probably wouldn’t even have known the difference between those two types of black because I had no expression for them. More than 90 percent of my wardrobe is black. It is the non-color of outer space, the non-color of everyone’s pupils, a reverse blank slate.
of candy-colored worlds in which my childhood and teenage self could lose herself in for days. But for me there is something very special about games devoid of color. They enthrall with their complete artificiality since they don’t aim to mimic the reality outside the game. Form, music and gameplay really come to the fore. In those types of games the very duality of the noncolors itself often takes part in interactive storytelling. By
Video games have always been a part of my life. My eyes quickly became accustomed to the endless number
reinforcing basic gameplay mechanics they allow the art style to play a central role in the construction of meaning. And that is something that makes noncolored games truly fascinating to me. Here are some games that I recently played that strongly resonated with me and that I think are great examples of noncolor usage in game design.
By Merle Leufgen
GA M E S W I T H O U T C O LO R T H AT W I L L B LO W YO U R M I N D
whiTe nighT By osome sTudio (PC, MAC, LINUX, PS4, XBOX ONE) The title of this game itself is an oxymoron, an antithesis. Tropeheavy, raspy voiceovers and the sound of a jazz piano evoke a film noir atmosphere in this game, a game that truly deserves the survival horror label. Film noir was all about shadow, duality and contrast, and so is this game. There are only black and white, no in-between tones of grays. You had a car accident and now you are seeking shelter in an apparently abandoned mansion. Pitch black darkness encloses you and this darkness and the horrors within can only be pushed back by lighting matches or finding a light switch. What truly amazed me about this game was the way the light/dark art style transcends its pure visuality by becoming the key puzzle solving mechanic.
memory oF a Broken dimension (ProToTyPe) By Xra (PC, MAC, LINUX) A black DOS screen. You are trying to figure out what to do. Maybe you are part of a generation that never really had to use text commands in order to get a program running. You download a number of strange files. The displayed text glitches at an increasing frequency. And then you’re in. Inside the machine. Decaying space and an all-consuming soundscape. A constant static of electric wind. Disorientation in an abstract glitch storm. You explore the often frightening surroundings, putting together scattered dark fragments in this monochromatic cyberspace. Data turns physical object turns architecture turns monument.
hiversaires By devine lu linvega (ANDROID, IOS) Alien. That’s the first thing that comes to mind. An environment foreign in its not-quite-abstractness, the surroundings bearing some resemblance of a research facility on another planet. You are alone; there will be no guidance other than Linvega’s eerie soundtrack and indecipherable symbols. You’ll need a piece of paper and a pen to write down your path as your own curiosity drives you deeper and deeper into the labyrinth-like structures of this adventure puzzle game.
sym By aTraX games (PC, MAC) “In the darkness gravity is inverted and I jump.” The duality in both the black-and-white artwork and the fragmented existence of the game character serves as an allegory for coping with anxiety: living in fear or retreating into isolation. You navigate through an unpredictable and dangerous maze, solving puzzles by switching between the positive and negative space alter egos of your character. Like in real life, it’s never clear where you are supposed to go next. This game will frustrate you because it is meant to be frustrating and you will fail because you are meant to fail. 20
MAKING SOUTH AFRICA’S FIRST MODERN BOARDGAME By Tsitsi Chiumya
After Robot is a game about dominating the taxi industry. It puts the player into the role of a taxi boss, exposing the player to the many frustrations faced by taxi owners and drivers. How far are you willing to go to become the ultimate taxi boss? In South Africa, taxis transports over 70 percent of the country. The name After Robot is taken from the lexicon of the South African taxi industry, which has inspired a rich compendium of phrases and hand signals to meet the needs of the drivers and commuters across languages and traffic conditions. Because this industry developed informally, its modus operandi is equally informal. After Robot is an instruction to tell the taxi driver to stop after the traffic light, which most South Africans refer to as a robot. Growing up in Lebowakgomo (a small township in Limpopo) taught me a lot about community and games. Board game culture has always been a huge part of my life. I remember when I was little, my grandfather bought me a Snakes and Ladders set from the local store. It was so exciting because it meant that I could play games with all
and reassembled. I chose to make a board game because community is so important to me: I want to bring people together. At the jam, players went around the board collecting scrap to build taxis and start a taxi business. Since then, with help from other game designers such as Ben Myres and Nick Hall, the game has transformed into something more accessible to the public. After Robot has come a long way. Since 2012, we have received plenty of help from some very talented people at Heart Idea Engineers, who make the board look amazing. The game became professional enough to be presented at the rAge expo – the biggest game expo in Africa. We were actually invited by skycastle game to show the game at their tables. The reception at rAge was fantastic for getting many more players. We showed it
my friends around the neighbourhood who, like me, could not afford video games. When I think back, we were always playing board games or physical games. And if not, we were probably watching Dragon ball Z or hanging out at the local arcade. My childhood environment probably forms most of my inspiration even today, when I make both video and board games. From the Ludo, Morabaraba and Crazy 8 tournaments that we grew up hosting to having my neighbour teach me how to play Chess, games made us feel like we were doing something constructive. When I first got to the University of the Witwatersrand, known as Wits, to study a new course on game design, I was very confused because I had not grown up playing tripleA titles like FIFA and GTA. There was a disconnect between what I grew up with and what I was expected to know. But as it turned out, the lectures made me realise the many forms of making games and it was not as hard as I predicted. I learned how to turn my experiences into games and how to make game systems that make players feel a certain way. I also learned how to make interesting rules and, most importantly, how to make fun games. Two years ago, the prototype for After Robot was born at the 48-hour Amaze 2012 Game Jam. The theme was “Chop Shop,” which refers to a place a where cars are disassembled
again in 2014 at the Amaze Festival and it was well received by both international and local game developers. One of the Swedish game designers took a copy home. I imagine they are enjoying it very much, since they constantly ask me to send them any changes of the game I make.
We are still looking a distributor who will help us publish the game and have it featured as one of South Africa’ first modern board games. Self-publishing is also an option, thanks to the existing high demand. We plan to make versions of the game for each major city in the country so that players may enjoy playing in their own towns.We are going to try get the game into international games awards, mostly in Germany, where there is so much love for board games. I hope the game will continue evolving and bring together as many players as possible. That is what inspires me.
F E At U r E
FA ST FORWA R D A F R IC A: By Lien Heidenreich-Seleme, Head of Cultural Prog rammes Sub-Saharan Afr ica, Goethe-Institut South Africa
eapfrogging” is a buzzword in Africa. It is being used in the context of technological development in African countries, and refers to skipping inferior, less efficient and more expensive stages of technology, and moving on directly to advanced ones. An example of “leapfrogging” would be how Africa skipped landline phone communication and moved on to mobile phone devices. On a continent where more than 50% of the population is under 25 years old, this is significant. It shows a growing potential in digital technologies and its various uses. In Kenya, for example, farmers are known to successfully use mobile phones in remote areas to do their banking. In view of this, the Goethe-Institut in Sub-Saharan Africa is making digitalization and gaming a focus area in the coming years. The Goethe-Institut South Africa has been working with the A MAZE. Interact Festival on Digital and Game Art in Johannesburg since its inception in 2012. Since 2014, A MAZE. / Johannesburg has been featured under the Fak’Ugesi Festival, run by the Digital Arts Faculty of the University of the Witwatersrand and supported by the City of Johannesburg, amongst others. There is a growing number of interesting game developers on the African continent, with South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria taking the lead. This year, we are proud to be able to support 15 game developers from 6 African countries to join the Gamescom Cologne 2015 as part of its visitor’s program to Germany. The idea is to reach out to a growing industry on the African continent to visit the world’s largest fair on gaming to give them the possibility to not only network with German and international gaming initiatives, but to also meet each other; such opportunities in Africa are rare and traveling on the continent is expensive. To further the exchange, some of the members of the visitor’s programme to Germany will also visit A MAZE. / Johannesburg 2015 under the Moving Africa Programme of the Goethe-Institut. We wish them all an exciting stay and look forward to hearing from their experiences!
adeBayo adegBemBo Genii Games uses gamification to teach kids about various African cultural subjects such as languages and folktales. It has a range of apps under its Asa (meaning “culture” in Yoruba) brand, which caters for the promotion and preservation of indigenous African Cultures using a combination of games, voice, text, sound and colorful graphics.
andrew kaggia Black Division Games seeks to establish itself as an authoritative game development company in Africa through developing high quality, culturally relevant and uniquely engaging products. Our first title, Nairobi-X, is Kenya’s first multiplatform 3D first person shooter experience. Now available on PC and Android platforms, NairobiX can be downloaded for free at and Google play. Making awesome games is our passion.
Our mission is to stimulate the interest of kids in African cultural subjects by providing them a fun way to learn about them. Our work is important as it helps address the declining interests and knowledge of African cultures among kids, especially Africans at home and the diaspora.
Andrew Kaggia 22
ayodele arigBaBu I have a background in architecture, arts and digital media, which has afforded me a strong capacity for collaborative work cutting across design, film, digital media, publishing, for producing/curating arts-related events, and more recently, the development of digital applications. The pace at which fast-paced economic growth on the African continent is being matched by ICT growth and demand for media content by the continent’s rapidly urbanizing and youthful population is stunning. At Design And Dream Arts (DADA) Enterprises, our work is informed by the convergence of design and the arts in the creative industries, especially in the digital space. We employ digital tools in creating different creative content for different media and, given the growing adoption of interactive media, we are increasingly leveraging gamification and other interactive elements in our output, hence my interest in Gamescom. And oh, yes, I’m absolutely nuts about digital technologies. www.dadaenterprises.net
Bayo PuddicomBe I run a mobile gaming company. At ChopUp, we develop entertainment content primarily for an African audience. Mobile is the most pervasive tech media in Africa and games are quite popular. However, culturally relevant game content is in short supply. Our objective is to create game-based experiences that are relatable for our target audience. We truly believe that games are a powerful means of interactive communication and we are exploring opportunities for applying gaming concepts and technology to address some of Africa’s challenges, specifically in the field of education. www.chopup.me gareTh Fouche Founded in 2012, Rogue Moon Studios is a South African game developer dedicated to crafting rich imaginary worlds through engaging mechanics, deep narrative and interesting characters. Its mission is to transport players to the frontiers of their imagination. Drawing together a team of talented contractors from around the globe, Rogue Moon is currently wrapping up development on its first game, System Crash, a narrative-driven, cyberpunk noir collectible card game. System Crash will be launching on desktop in the final quarter of this year. www.systemcrashgame.com
jason ried Fuzzy Logic are award-winning South African developers that create high quality, multiplatform games, apps and augmented reality titles. With over 19 years of international experience in the AAA games industry, our aim is to create products that are simple to use and cuttingedge in functionality and design. We are registered Apple, Android, Windows and Nintendo developers and are a ‘preferred developer’ for the two major AR technology providers: String and Qualcomm. We are proud to have won ‘AR Developer of the Year 2013’ at the European AR Awards. Our first game, Soccer Moves, reached #1 in 52 countries, achieving over two million downloads.
salim and evans Busuru Urbandesignkings is a studio comprising Kenyan artists who believe our African heritage is rich and diverse, filled with wisdom and ideas as well as mistakes that should not be forgotten lest they be repeated. Our vision is to represent our traditional and current African culture in the projects that we do to hopefully give understanding and a fresh perspective about ourselves to our fellow Africans and the world at large that is now a global village. We choose to deliver our message through our talent and skills in making games, comics and illustrations.
nick hall Nicholas Hall is the chairperson of Make Games South Africa, an industry body that strives to develop and grow the game development industry in South Africa. Make Games hopes to make contact with other industry stakeholders who would be interested in partnering with Make Games and its many development programs. Make Games wants to promote South Africa as a destination for outsourced game development work and showcase their locally produced games. www.makegamessa.com
A DIGI TA L MOV EM EN T 23
wynand groenewald Sea Monster creates emotive, engaging digital content and experiences. As Africa’s pre-eminent cross-platform gaming, augmented reality and animation company, we have a VCbacked virtual reality product at an advanced stage of development. Our team has produced over 75 hours of international animated content, hours of explainers and over 50 games and apps. Our goal is to create digital learning products that can tap into the unique storytelling skills and culture in South Africa, and to distribute these internationally. We are looking to partner with individuals and companies who have sales and distribution know-how and technical and creative expertise. www.seamonster.co.za edoukou Fowndi Afrikatoon is an animation studio in the Ivory Coast. After producing two animated features, Afrikatoon decided to open a video game development division. Our goal is to emulate the development of the video game industry in our country. As a developer, I am grateful for the chance to participate in this great adventure. www.afrikatoon.com hanli geyser Hanli Geyser is a lecturer in game design and a PhD candidate at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg. She is the coordinator of the game design programs at Wits, which kicked off in 2012. These programs provide an introduction to the technical, conceptual and critical foundations needed for students wishing to enter this exciting field that merges technology and the arts. She graduated with an MA in History of Art from Wits in 2008 with her dissertation entitled “Surface Tension – Examining the implications of intentional disruption of the Photographic Surface”. Extending her interest in arts and education into the digital realm her PhD, Geyser investigates the pedagogic frameworks for teaching game design in a South African context. While her PhD focuses on games education her research interests are diverse, spanning many areas of popular cultural production. She is primarily fascinated by the conjunction between visual arts and narrative texts found in video games, hypertext fiction, comic books and film.
luke lamoThe Based in Johanessburg, South Africa, 24 Bit Games was founded in 2012 by games industry veteran Luke Lamothe. It specializes in providing programming and art production services for mobile, web, and desktop games. Our team’s core strength lies in the production and programming of cutting edge graphics and effects, engine and API development, and performance evaluation and optimization. www.24bitgames.com koami wodouFia The UntrucdeFous studio was born in Lomé, Togo. Why a crazy thing? Because you had to be crazy to create the first Togolese mobile video game. These two crazies, Koami Dzifa Wodoufia and Giovanni Latévi Lawson-Danku, are gradually crossing the barriers that separate them from the publication of their first creation, the game Fi –Torch. This adventure began in February and still continues today. Follow the adventures of these two young passionate, talented men.
Koami Dzifa Wodoufia and Giovanni Latévi Lawson-Danku
www.untrucdefous.com BinTa coudy Binta Coudy is a founding member of Jjiguène Tech Hub. Jjiguene Tech Senegal seeks to become the first women’s tech hub in Senegal. Our aim is to encourage, inspire and train more women in the tech ecosystem in Senegal through networking, training, mentoring and sharing knowledge. Women in Senegal work and share in many sectors but not in the technology sector. In order to increase the number of women in tech, more girls should take science courses at university so as to reduce the gender gap and compete favourably with our male counterparts for jobs and improve the livelihoods of women in Senegal.
sky arena Hammer Labs Sky Arena is a multiplayer shoot ‘em up in which you pilot a jet fighter to battle either against three of your friends, in local couch-multiplayer, or online against the rest of the world. You can even bring your friends to the servers and play 4 player split-screen online. In the spirit of the Star Fox games, you take control over a jet and take on battle in a spherical arena.
INDIE ARENA BOOTH
gamescom 2015, haLL 10.1 Booth a050 B051
the Flock Vogelsap The Flock is an asymmetrical multiplayer thriller. You get to play as one of the agile hunters that make up the Flock, but your goal is to become the hunted Carrier. As the Carrier you need to shine your light upon objectives placed in the world in order to win the game; while at the same time fending off Flock that attempt to gain the Artifact for themselves! The Flock are vulnerable to the Artifact›s light, but their key to survival is to stand still when the light is shined upon them.
BadLand: game of the year edition
Deliver Us The Moon
with this project the developer Keoken wants players to experience how it’s like to be on the moon, surrounded by emptiness and loneliness. On the moon the player is given an important responsibility concerning the future of mankind. However, they do not want the player to stay alone during his mission. So he will come across a robot called ASE. A helpful companion who eventually becomes a friend. together with ASE the player will travel on the moon to complete his mission. Throughout this journey the player will have to use all resources he can find to overcome all diﬃculties.
Badland is a multi-award-winning side-scrolling action adventure game with innovative physics-based gameplay, deviously creative levels and stunning atmospheric graphics and audio. The Game of the Ye ar Edition for Stream and console features over 4 times more content than the original did when it was launched. It has over 15 hours and 100 levels of singleplayer story content and 100 co-op and 27 multiplayer death-match stages in an upto-four-person local multiplayer mode. badlandgame.com
Curious Expedition is a roguelike expedition-sim set in the late 19th century, in which you will venture on unprecedented expeditions to regions never explored before. Explore procedurally generated worlds, each with its own distinctive set of challenges for the ambitious explorer.Balance your needs with the desire to carry all that precious treasure back home. visit and interact with the land’s natives. Enter villages, trade and communicate with local tribes and civilizations that are unknown to mankind. curious-expedition.com
Momonga Pinball Adventures Wii U Paladin Studios
goetia Sushee Goetia is a point-and-click adventure game for PC and Mac – and, as in any adventure game, you’ll be seeking out clues, finding objects, and figuring out how to use or combine them in order to progress through the different areas, puzzles and encounters. In Goetia, you play the part of Abigail, the ghost of a young lady. And as a ghost, you can walk through walls and fly through ceilings, you can explore everywhere as you see fit. But to manipulate objects, you’ll have to possess them, just like a real poltergeist would. And once you possess an object, you can’t pass through walls anymore. playgoetia.com
mushroom 11 Untame
Spaces of Play
Destroy it and it will grow. Mold an amorphous organism into any shape by pruning its cells. new cells will immediately grow, allowing you to traverse a mysterious world across brain-twisting obstacles, overcome swarms of bizarre mutated creatures, and understand the true nature of the devastation from which you emerged.
Curious Expedition is a roguelike expedition-sim set in the late 19th century, in which you will venture on unprecedented expeditions to regions never explored before. Explore procedurally generated worlds, each with its own distinctive set of challenges for the ambitious explorer.Balance your needs with the desire to carry all that precious treasure back home. visit and interact with the land’s natives. Enter villages, trade and communicate with local tribes and civilizations that are unknown to mankind.
Momonga is a unique pinball game, where you bounce through different worlds. On the way, you team up with friends to defeat enemies and conquer bossfights. A little flying squirrel takes on the forces of evil - join Momo, Panda and Fry in a quest to save the momongas from the claws of the evil owls.Join Momo in the first episode of an epic adventure to save his tribe. One day, evil owls turned the momonga village to ashes. They took the momonga tribe and vanished. Only one momonga got away. The panda brought him to his sanctuary to heal his wounds. paladinstudios.com
Metrico+ Digital Dreams
Earthcore: Shattered Elements
Metrico+ centers around infographics. It’s an atmospheric puzzle action game with a mindset of its own. The idea was born a few years ago, out of admiration for the beauty of infographics as an art form. It was reinforced by seeing that infographics have become increasingly important in contemporary pop-culture.
Tequila Games Earthcore: Shattered Elements introduces an incredible new dimension to digital card games, merging its unique style of gameplay with the truly revolutionary art of Card Crafting.In Earthcore, YOU are the designer. Use the Card Crafting to create 500,000 new cards for endless strategic possibilities. Beware, Shattered Elements is skill-based, so even the most powerful cards can lose if used in the wrong way. Gather your forces and craft thousands of new cards to build powerful decks. earthcoregame.com
Vennril (Headup Games) treasure Arena is a fast-paced multiplayer arena brawler with charming, retro-inspired pixel art graphics and a peppy, rocking soundtrack. Choose a character and battle it out on tight top-down maps, filled with angry monsters and shiny loot. various weapons scattered across each map can be picked up and will help you blasting away your opponents, including bows, magic staffs, bombs, rockets and more!
Jetpack Squad Vapgames Jetpack Squad is a horizontal SHMUP with a focus on speed, interactivity and explosions. You control a small team of jetpack fighters to shoot, slice, grab and throw enemies (or anything else that moves). SHMUPs are usually centered around avoiding stuff that flies at you, but in JPS you can use everything to your advantage including enemies and their bullets. well, if you like playing classic way - nobody stops you, there are plenty of ways to deal with the dangers in your own style. The game is still in development, but it›s already full of explosions, enemies and some bosses.
CrossCode Radical Fish Games CrossCode is a retro-inspired 2D Action rPG set in the distant future, combining 16-bit SnES-style graphics with buttersmooth physics, a fast-paced combat system, and engaging puzzle mechanics, served with a gripping sci-fi story. You follow a player called Lea as she logs into Crossworlds - a fictional MMO of the distant future. Lea is not your average player though. She hast lost her memory and is mute. now the only way to regain her memory is to play Crossworlds, disovering all the places the game has to offer and meeting other players on the way - hoping they won›t mistake her for a bot. cross-code.com
tricky towers is a 1-4 player physics tower building game set in a magical world where once a year the best wizards convene to compete in a tower building tournament. Using a large collection of magical spells players can improve their towers or mess up those of their competitors. Crazy towers are guaranteed! It’s not all about the on- and oﬄine multiplayer though, players will also be able to test their skill in single player mode and compete in the leaderboards. trickytowers.com
Experience an action-adventure game in a whole new way, which incorporates music into every aspect of the beautiful world. Players interact with the environment and a variety of creatures to open paths and solve puzzles throughout their journey. Featuring an exclusively produced soundtrack with original songs composed specifically for the game by known artists including Austin wintory, Parov Stelar, Sabrepulse and La rochelle Band.
nowhere Prophet is a roguelike card game. It is set a century after a galaxy-wide, catastrophic technological failure. You lead an exodus across the hostile planet Soma, looking a mystic place promising safety and technology. to win the battles along your randomly generated trek you will need to play and master a card game. with each new game your journey will be different: The locations and events you encounter are randomly generated.
In Between gentlymad In Between is an atmospheric, awardwinning platformer where you solve mindbending puzzles by manipulating your surroundings and gravity itself. You are invited to reflect on life while getting to know the story of the dying protagonist and his inevitable struggle for existence. Dive into the atmosphere of a dense, hand painted game while exploring the reason why you are here. welcome to a world In Between.
Dieselstörmers Black Forest Games Dieselstörmers is a roguelike action platformer for up to four players in local and online multiplayer mode. Discover the crazy city of ravensdale and its sprawling undercity … Just join the game and start shooting the damned monsters – you’re a Dieselstörmer, a trained battlemachine and a freedom fighter, and you wAnt this damned city to be yours again! So gear up, recruit! And join the fight for ravensdale! dieselstormers.com
What Games ?
Thunder Lotus Games
Starfallen is an exploration procedural action-adventure game that takes place on an undiscovered alien world. You play as the Engineer who escapes from a large malfunctioning spaceship falling into Starfallen›s atmosphere. After crash landing, alone with no survivors, the Engineer explores, and uncovers a vast alien world, filled with civilizations, and a dark conspiracy. The player must learn to explore and understand the hostile alien world, and at the same time, ﬁnd a way to go home.
Jotun is a hand-drawn action-exploration game set in norse mythology. In Jotun, you play Thora, a norse warrior who has died an inglorious death and must prove herself to the Gods to enter valhalla Jotuns core loop revolves around collecting runes to summon and fight the jotun, gigantic norse elementals. The world is randomlygenerated and filled with different areas to explore and environmental puzzles to solve. traveling to the far reaches of Purgatory is key to finding runes, Shrines to the Gods and many more viking mysteries.
Chasing Carrots Cosmonautica is a fresh take on space trading in a procedurally generated universe, paired with quirky humor for your intergalactic enjoyment. Cast off! Are you ready for some hilarious adventures in outer space? Start by boarding a washed-up space cruiser and fulfill your destiny as an aspiring captain on the hunt for fame and fortune. Cosmonautica combines elements of space trading and crew simulation to create a unique experience. Only if you take good care of your crew you will be able to succeed. cosmo-nautica.com
Cloud Chasers Blindflug Studios
Son of Nor Viva Media, Inc As a Son of nor, consecrated by the Goddess of the night, you are all that stands between the human race and total extinction. Only one human enclave remains in the vast desert world of noshrac, a hidden refuge called The Edge. After 400 years of peace, humanity’s ancient enemy the Sarahul appears once more, forcing you into an adventure to save your people. Armed with telekinesis and terraforming, the gifts granted by the goddess nor, you will explore the world of noshrac, fighting through enemy territory and uncovering long-forgotten secrets. sonofnor.com
Hero Defense: Haunted Island
Data Realms Planetoid Pioneers is a 2D physics-based action-adventure driven by User Generated Content and inspired by the classic action/exploration games Blaster Master (1988) and Exile (1988). Initially you find yourself marooned on the first Planetoid in a robinson Crusoe scenario after your prized space yacht blew up. Use your Atomizer/Assembler tool to gather resources and turn them into various vehicles, contraptions, and even organic life forms to help you explore the mysterious caves beneath the surface of the uncharted circular world. Eventually you’ll be able to move enough stuff from the depths of the Planetoid to the surface in order to build an expensive rocketship and blast off!
Happy Tuesday Haunted Island combines the addicting mechanics of tower Defense and rPG elements within an immersive world of hilariously loveable creeps and characters. take control of five different avatars with unique skills on their quest to support vampire Hunter van Holsing against the evil Count tooth. Make your way to his holiday residence castle and fight waves of dandy skeletons, zombie grannies or vampire kids. www.happy-tuesday.com
The earth is seared, more and more turning into one enormous desert every day. The most privileged are living on artificial floating islands in the sky. As they are harvesting the clouds for their own needs, Francisco, a corn farmer, can no longer sustain his family on the ground. So he takes his remaining daughter Amelia and tries to take her to the spire: The gate to the promised land above the clouds. Guide Francisco and Amelia through five deadly deserts full of dangerous events.
Distance Refract Distance is a windows/Mac/Linux survival racing game that combines the intense action of arcade racing with the exploration of an atmospheric world. You control a unique car that allows you to boost, jump, rotate, and even fly through a chaotic and twisted city. The world has a mysterious history, and as you explore you›ll be able to uncover pieces of its past. In short, it›s trials Evolution + rush 2049 + Halo + tron: Legacy. refract.com
Shift Happens Klonk UG
Kingdom Rawfury A wise King knows that his kingdom will fall. A brave King does not despair. A great King knows that his riches can rule, But spends every penny with care. In Kingdom, each coin spent can tip the balance between prosperity and decay. Attend to your domain, border to border, or venture into the wild to discover its wonders and its threats. Master the land, build your defenses, and when the darkness comes, stand with your people, crown on your head, until the very end.
Shift Happens is a local co-op platformer for two players. The game was built with great coop experiences in mind, such as »ibb and obb«, Portal 2 and rayman. You control the fate of Bismo and Plom. The two were linked together in an accident and now have to deal with the consequences. with your ability to shift mass, you jump and run your way all through the various stages of Shift Happens. Each stage features new challenges and obstacles. Your goal is to find a way to get rid of your involuntary friendshift.
Move or Die Those Awesome Guys Move or Die is a very fast paced party game with up to 4 players on the same screen (or online)! All players go through a series of various games modes with different levels and sets of rules, each one of them lasting about 20 seconds. The goal is to be the last one standing. The catch? As the title says, move or die! Your health is constantly draining as long as you stand still, you have to move in order to regenerate it. moveordiegame.com
Shattered Worlds: the SciFi Card & Wargame Black Zeppelin Studio Activate your Arcship, assemble your fleet and plunge into the neverending Faction warfare of Shattered worlds – the combination SciFi Card & wargame. will you be able to claim the ancient secrets of the Singularity? Join our free Pioneer playtest sessions and use your tactical insight to create decks, move units, play effect cards, start collecting and help us shape the Story of this new wargaming experience. shattered-worlds.com
SpeedRunners The Masterplan Shark Punch Set in the early 1970s, the game features beautiful hand-drawn 2D art and an authentic soundtrack recorded by a real band. The Masterplan is a tactical teambased game where you plan and execute bank robberies and other heists. Drawing inspiration from both legendary tactical turn-based games and classic heist movies alike, the goal of The Masterplan is to put together the right crew, get the right equipment, and finally plan and execute the biggest heist ever. playfield.io/themasterplan
tinyBuild Speedrunners is a 4 player competitive platformer with grappling hooks, power-ups, and interactive environments. run, jump, swing around, fire rockets, grapple onto people to knock them off screen. Keep up with the fastest player in-game, or fall offscreen and get eliminated! Use weapons like missiles, mines and grappling hooks to screw over your friends, and make new enemies. The game features a local and online multiplayer. Can you have 2 players on a couch against 2 other players on the internet? Ye s of course! A full blown level editor with over 10k user created levels is also available, as are bot matches. tinybuild.com/speedrunners
Hue is a stark puzzle platformer where you shift the hue of the world, creating rifts when colours collide. In this world, everyone sees in grayscale. Anne, a researcher specialising in colour theory, has created a mysterious ring which grants the ability to perceive and alter colour. After a fracas with her research assistant, she disappears into a coloured void. You play as Hue, Anne’s son, as he discovers fragments of his missing mother’s research and learns to perceive and alter colour for the first time. huethegame.com
Kathy Rain Rawfury Kathy rain, a sassy rocker chick with a knack for detective work, returns to her hometown after being gone for many years. Joined by her enthusiastic roommate Eileen, she starts investigating a local mystery, the legacy of her recently deceased grandfather. As they follow a trail of clues he left behind, questions will emerge: what was Joseph rain really looking for that night all those years ago? what turned him into a mere shell of a man, confined to a wheelchair? what secret did a young artist suicide take with her to the grave, and why are so many people in Conwell Springs going mad? rawfury.com/games/kathy-rain
Shu Coatsink Software
Venture Kid Fallman
Glad Game Studio
venture Kid is a lovingly crafted 8-bit retro action platformer that goes beyond just pixels and chiptunes. It shines with excellent level design, highly entertaining action levels, responsive controls and a great variety of bosses. Grab your controller, blow the dust of the D-Pad and travel back through time. venture Kid is here to deliver!
Fallman is a trampoline jumping action game for iOS starring an 80’s trampoline champion with his athletic career gone south. Keep your jumping rhythm going while performing crazy trick combos in the air by tapping, swiping and rotating. And do not fumble a landing! Six beautiful stages with different visuals, soundtrack, challenges and an unique freeform combo system built for gesture controls.
Shu is a 2.5D side-scrolling platformer, where the player can harness the unique abilities of a group of unusual and adorable hand-drawn characters. A deadly storm has forced villagers to seek refuge across the land, but many have become trapped. Your journey will take you across savannah and through forests, all the way to the very peak of a desolate mountain. As Shu climb your way to the top with the storm hot on your heels, you will happen across these stranded villagers. take them by the hand and guide them to safety while harnessing their unique abilities. Can you outrun the end of the world? coatsink.com/games/shu
Shiftlings Rock Pocket Games Shiftlings is the universally popular hyper-show that has the two tenacious tech’s bravely battle blunders and booboos through the most zany and exotic locales of the known universe. Shift work at its best! Jump into the thick of things and take control of either (or both) of the state of the art custodial clones and jump, push, puzzle, and giggle-snort your way through over 50 levels of shenanigans and insanity through five gorgeous, quirky, and hilariously narrated worlds. rockpocketgames.com/shiftlings
The Red Solstice The Red Solstice The red Solstice is a tactical, squad-based survival game set in the distant future on Mars, playable in single-player or with up to 8 players in cooperative online multiplayer. roam freely over huge maps, complete randomized objectives and deal with surprise events that keep you on the edge of your seat. Survive and conquer by any means necessary. Get stronger every time. Level up to unlock new weapons and abilities. try to survive the storm. Issue commands and set waypoints and objectives for your friends as you outsmart and outgun your way through the derelict domiciles of Tharsis. theredsolstice.com
Space Orange Studios
with a variety of distinct massive weapons and grenades, up to four players are able to cast mayhem on each other on miniature planet battlefields. The integrated high precision destructionmechanic allows you to wreck the planet with diverse tools of destruction, leaving a new challenge for every match! There are different themed planets (ice, grass, clouds...) with lush environment suiting the theme. The matches are quickly decided, they end if only one player is left alive or the planet destroyed. Play with up to 4 players via split-screen!
run, jump and butt-slide into the glorious toy-filled world of Action Henk! Become a master of momentum and defy physics as you race against a band of ragged 90s action figures to once and for all prove that Action Henk is the fastest of them all! with over 70 tracks all set in different environments, 5 playable characters, dedicated grappling hook levels, a whole host of medals to beat, and a full-fledged level editor, Action Henk is ready to be played on windows, Mac & Linux.
Gang Beasts Boneloaf Gang Beasts is a silly local multiplayer party game with surly gelatinous characters, brutal mêlée fight sequences, and absurdly hazardous environments.watch in horror and amusement as gangs of floppy antagonists grab, push, pull, and shove their enemies from permanently suspended window-cleaning scaffolds, unattended ferris wheels, and commercial haulage trucks. Gasp with shock and delight at the spectacle of stupidly pugnacious thugs punching, kicking, and throwing their foes into unspecified hazardous machinery, flaming incinerator pits, and the paths of moving trains. gangbeasts.com
th e #BLacK game d e v Bac K sto ry By Shawn Alexander Allen Earlier this year a black game creator I had been following online for a while, Micah Betts, relaunched his Kickstarter campaign for the game Combat Core. It had previously looked rougher and failed to get the attention of press, fans, and other outlets, ultimately failing to meet its crowdfunding goal. But this time you could tell he had worked hard to polish the game before reintroducing it on Kickstarter. As someone who has failed and then gone on to succeed on the platform, and as a person genuinely interested in his game project, I wanted to see him succeed. Black people make up a very small part of the games development space worldwide, which has been dominated by white and Asian creators since its inception. In many ways,
this is to be expected as the video games space was created by white and Japanese creators – unlike with hip-hop or countless other cultural innovations by black creators.
ently lead to decades of black people thinking that the video games they play were not something they could or should try to create. While there are more people are making games than ever in 2015, black voices are still absent – as are a great number of other marginalized groups. As a biracial black person myself who constantly struggles with my own identity, I have found that I have the knack for being outspoken about these things and that, to some extent, have been able to enact change or at least create awareness.
That isn’t a problem in itself. The real difficulty is getting people who aren’t generally represented in a space to see themselves there as valuable contributors and to see it as a place that they can succeed in. It has been documented that black children in the United States tend to view themselves as inferior from birth and consider being white as the ideal. Society at large enforces these ideas, telling black people to stay in their place while fetishizing black bodies and culture for fashion and style, and attempting to erase black inventions and innovators. This vicious cycle has inadvert-
When I started the Support #blackgamedev movement I thought I was just saying what needed to be said; I didn’t know I was starting a hashtag. I just wanted to see Combat Core succeed, as well as other
games on the market today and in the future. We need more and more creators, and the different voices, stories, art, and design choices that come from that. Games will only become better with a more diverse set of creators but in order to keep those people in the space, they also need to see success, or else we will see more and more people abandoning the industry. Blackgamedevs.com was started by friends and colleagues whom I have mentored or otherwise supported and promoted in the past. I am proud to see a simple hashtag grow into a small movement, and then into an open-source website as a resource to hopefully grow the success of black people in this tiny corner of the game development sphere that we currently make up.
ama zing Fast growing List o F B L acK gam e deveLo Pers www.blackgamedevs.com Status: July 26, 2015 Ahmed Abdullah Ajari Wilson Akira Thompson Andreas J. Hester Andrew Augustin Andy James Nicholis Anne Shongwe Arthur Ward, Jr. Audley Gordon Auriea Harvey Ben Wilson Bradnon J. Bruce Bradston Henry Brandon Perry Bruce Johnson Bryan Williams Bryson Whiteman Catt Small Carrill Munnings Charles Webb Chase Bethea Chris Moody Chris Wells Christian Howard Christopher A. Butler CNIAngel Corey Holmes Cukia Kimani Dain Saint Damien A. Morris Darryl Johnson
David Pierre Davon Marquis Sanders Derek L. Manns Derek Smart Demond Rogers Des Gayle Ebrima Leigh Errol King Ethan Redd Evie Powell Frank Silas Frenel Djossa Gaming Pixie Graham Reid Greg Goodson Greg Johnson Gregory Jean-Baptist Harold Pichol Hillmon Ancrum Hoop Somuah Issac Nichols Jacob Mooney Jae Lee Jamal Seaton James Garvin James Seetal Jarryd Huntley Jason Coker Jason Paul Jay Adeloye Jermaine Belcher Joe Palmer John Davis Jorge Palacios Joseph Saulter
Joshua Parker Justin Woodward Kidando Kieron White K.L. Smith Kojo Kumah Lauren E. Scott Lavon Woods Lee Hinds Leonard J. Paul MABManZ Marcus Terrell Markus Heinel Mat Broome Matthew Findlater Melissa Avery-Weir Melvin Samuel Micah Betts Michel Nkuindja Mike Adebajo Mike Murray Nicole Anetra Lewis Neil Jones NostalgiCO Noyemi Karlait Patrice King Paul Davey Paul LaCen Pierre Joshua PinkTreeLeaf Polkritude pyun-pyun Quintin Rodriguez-Harrison R. Lateef Ramone Russell
Ray Batts Reggie Fils-Aimé ReJean DuBois Rejon Taylor Rekcahdam Richard Terrell Richie Branson Rokashi Edwards Ron Jones Sean Bellinger Sean R. Scott Shawn Alexander Allen Shawn Pierre Silentrivr SolarLune Somara Atkinson Spritewrench Sterlyng Powell Sylverstone Khandr Terrance Smith Tim Lewinson Tion “VAGABOND” Bruton TJ Thomas Tony Barnes Tony Powell Tony Yotes Tramell Ray Issac Travis Estrada Triston Edison Troy D. Patterson Tyriq Plummer Ventroy Rolle Warren Price Wayman Harris Wilbert Roget, II
MOONCH I L D SA N E L LY Moonchild was born to an extroverted woman of song who’s independence was before her time. At the age of 6 months Moon found love in front of the camera. She quickly made a name for herself in the Durban music scene, performing at festivals across KwaZulu Natal. She has since relocated to Johannesburg where her presence has been no less noticeable. Moonchild has performed alongside artists such as Madala Kunene, Gcina Hlope and Busi Mhlongo. The move to the city of lights has also presented the opportunity to collaborate with the likes of the BLK JKS and Thandiswa Mazwai.
PUBLISHER A MAZE. GmbH Brunnenstr. 153 DE 10115 Berlin Germany
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A MAZE. Magazine © A MAZE. GmbH E-MAIL REDAKTION email@example.com www.a-maze.net Thanks to all the contributors, partners, friends and family. This magazine is for everyone who sees games not only as a product and believes in a playful future where technology is used for artistic expression.
A MAZE./ JOHANNESBURG SEP 9TH-12TH 2015
KuNst uNd KuLtur der digitaLeN spieLe dortmuNder u 03.—04.12.2015
Gestaltung: Lambert und Lambert Düsseldorf // Foto: kallejipp/photocase
Next Level co ference 2 15
Published on Aug 13, 2015
We have a dream This issue is dedicated to black in all shades. We are featuring black game developers, digital artists, thinkers, studios...