Localized games:The future of video games in Africa

The Africa video game industry is taking off, slowly but surely. In a continent where the majority of games on mobile phones and consoles are Western developed, there is need to also have localized games that are based on African social dynamics and have a distinct African identity. Most of the games available for download from mobile stores and for purchase as physical copies have heavily westernized themes. These games are popular across the world since they are well thought out and feature impressive game-play and remarkable graphical fidelity. International game development companies invest millions of dollars in developing and distributing these games. For Africa to compete with or compliment the international game development industry, Africa needs to offer games that are not only unique in terms of graphics and game-play, but also offer an experience that in truly African, based on African narratives.

Africa does not have a self-sustaining video game industry yet, but there is progress and promising prospects from the small studios across Africa making steps towards developing enjoyable African game titles. There is interest globally on the prospects of a self-sustaining African games industry.

The growth of the African game industry is also attracting foreign investors who are setting up studios in the hope of securing a part of the video games market. Indeed it seems that the ball is rolling and African game development is at the onset of an exciting frontier. With the development and growth of African games, the African video game market is offering more relatable content to Africans and games that are adapted to African society and way of life. This provides African gamers with games that feel African since they are adapted from African experiences and bear a unique African identity.

As the industry grows, more and more localized games will continue being offered and the portfolio for African games will continue to grow. The trend can be likened to the music industry in Kenya and its subsequent phenomenal growth from the 90's. In the 90's the consumption of music in Kenya was dominated by Western artists and music, this was partly because there were few Kenyan artists and Western music was more accessible and of significantly better quality in terms of sound production and music videos. As the music industry grew and music content started getting localized by the artists of the time, there was greater acceptance and accessibility from the market and the "local" music genre was born. Fast forward to present day and localized content now has a significant market share, from Bongo to Gengetone there is now a significant fan base and the industry is now self-sustaining. The future of localized games is taking a similar path as more game developers get into creating and distributing African based games. This will go a long way in providing the market with alternative electronic products and with improving the entire video game industry. As we move towards this exciting future, there is need to work together for African game developers and to have partnerships with international entities that want to invest in the African video game industry. The future definitely seems exciting and we want to be a part of it.