Gaming industry hits high points

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021 00:00 |
A gamer plays a game on their phone.

Adalla Allan @Adalla_Allan

The video gaming industry has long considered the cause of depression, aggression, laziness and addiction among its users, especially in Africa.

For others, it for youngsters or the idle. However, a new generation of tech developers have rolled out various video gaming start-ups thanks to the introduction of broadband internet in Kenya, with the aim of changing this long-held narrative

Among these companies is Tactical Execution Esports [TEx Esports] Africa, which was established in Kenya in September 2020 by Usama Welton, an Ex European Call of Duty professional after he saw a lack of opportunities for Kenyan gamers.

Usama says the organisation wants to change the narrative that “gaming is a waste of time” when it is a great profitable industry.

Esport is competitive video gaming usually between human and human as compared to other gaming between human and machines, and comes with an audience just like traditional sports.

“Gamers who got recruited from September when we launched TEx Esport, began to train and have since been allowed to compete for cash prizes.

TEx Esports launched with the idea of doing its best to give everyone an opportunity, from the amateur gamers to the most popular,” he says.

In December, TEx Esports Africa started expanding to the rest of Africa by having their players compete in tournaments and leagues across the continent for prize pools of Sh100,000 and above.

TEx Esports has begun creating rosters (line ups) in different parts of Africa, mainly South Africa and Morocco. 

Same opportunity

“Kenya has a youth unemployment problem. One of TEx Esports objectives is to create a way for youth to earn a living through Esports just like how first  world countries and parts of Asia do.

Professional gamers in the US and Europe make up Sh10 million per month on salary, and TEx Esports with its partners are working hard to give African youth the same opportunity,” Welton says.

The earliest known game development in Kenya was Adventures of Nyangi, created in 2007 by Wesley Kirinya.

It is an action-adventure game inspired by a video game titled Tomb Raider, a masterminded of a British gaming company.

Though Kirinya’s brainchild had low graphic quality it is considered one of first video games on the continent.

Later video game enthusiasts Nathan Masyuko and Ayub Makimei founded NextGen, which played a great role in surge of gaming in the country. 

With most people having stayed at home due to covid-19, they turned to Esport for solace to fill the gap that left them jaded while staying at home. 

For Farid Kipirash, the founder of Lag Alert, a content creation app that feeds gaming enthusiasts with interesting materials, agrees that this is the best time for Esport. 

High revenues

 “The stay-home-directive has undeniably helped Esports indirectly. When confined in a space, the only thing you can do is interacting with what you can reach.

You saw that certain things sort of skyrocketed and picked. The gaming industry is not different, so it has benefitted during this period indirectly,” he says. 

However, Farid says funding Esport tournaments is a huge challenge for the industry. 

“Funding tournaments and even online ones is a hurdle in furthering the sport. The other big challenge is the audience.

For anything to thrive, you need a number of audiences that want the content, so personally, I see it as a challenge because if the audience doesn’t know that this exists and is a consumable avenue for content, you will have very low numbers and this proves a low rating that considers the number of people willing to invest in your sport,” He says. 

With smartphones, tablets and laptops on the rise, gaming has greatly developed.

Around the world, game development is predicted to have revenues of over $108.9 billion (Sh10.8 trillion), while in Kenya it is estimated that revenues will be over $29 million ( Sh2.9billion). 

Interestingly enough, the industry which was renowned for being dominated by the male is currently having female enthusiasts as well. 

Gloria Adhiambo, an animator and a staunch esport gaming fan, says there are women who are out here doing amazing work in gaming but they are still treated as the vulnerable in the society. 

“Most conversations and reviews around gaming arts always have men in the panels. We need to be celebrated on the work we are doing just like women gamers are celebrated in the first world countries.

So what we need to do is produce the work and keep on sharing it. We should focus on being so good that they society can’t ignore us.” she says.

Victor Abedi, a software developer at Microsoft says gaming is developing in an interesting way in the country. 

“With massive growth of the video gaming audience locally, the industry is advancing and it may reach a point where it will be the top form of entertainment.

We also have new trends in gaming that promise a bright future, including cloud gaming, virtual reality (VR) games, home and handheld consoles, and the likes of Esport gaming,” he says.

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