Regina KgatleCompany: Founder and game designer at Educade and 67games Location: Johannesburg What functions do video games serve? Games provide a safe space for failure. If your avatar dies you get another chance at life. It’s a good message to motivate learning in young people — that it is fine to make mistakes. Games provide a space to be able to rectify your errors. Games are also fun to play. You don’t struggle to get the attention of the player. You can use that time to push important educational skills throughout the interaction. Games are more interactive then a book — you can engage with your content. With the many platforms available nowadays it is easy for people to access content through the mediums that they already use.
We have built games that are centred around many lived experiences of South African children. In our games you will find characters like black girls with their natural hair, you will pass the beauties of South Africa like Table Mountain, you will ride cars in the village, pass across cows and stuff like that. Representation is important, thus we make sure that our graphics and art speak to it. — Regina
Ben RauschStudio: Co-founder of Cowabunga Industries and Team Lazerbeam. Location: Cape Town Top tools: Unity3D Engine, Photoshop and Adobe After Effect Tell me about some of the gaming trends in SA that you are excited for? Humour, biting sarcasm and satire are common threads running through different South African games. Looking at disparate success stories like Desktop Dungeons, Broforce and Genital Jousting I think this is true. I look forward to more snarky, funny South African games in the future. What do you think are the greatest challenges that face an indie developer in SA? Access to the internet is overpriced and under-delivered. Hardware to build or test games on incredibly expensive. The sad reality is that, while a small privileged percentage of South Africans can afford to pay their way around these obstacles, for the average South African simply getting by is a constant battle. This also means that our best and brightest young developers can’t even get a start in the industry. We have more and more people making games, but I don’t know of a single local publisher, or even a South African PR guru that helps devs get their work out to wider audiences. This kind of thing is a vital part of the business of games, but individuals and studios need to do everything themselves, or turn to specialists outside of South Africa. In too many ways South Africa can be a very regressive, normative, oppressive country and as a result, many people are held back. The idea that average people can even make games is a totally foreign concept to most. For those that do start making games, the conservative South African mindset often limits the creativity seen in their games.
I think soul is what really sets a great game apart from the many good games out there. All too often particularly in the mainstream where games are worked on by hundreds of people over the course of years, whatever soul a game had to begin with gets lost in the process of trying to make a game that will run smoothly and make lots of money. — Ben