Developing nations: How Gamsole is bringing 'African realities' to mobile gaming
That's a bold ambition for any fledgling studio, let alone one that also has to contend with the African reality of infrastructure problems.
Fortunately, Gamsole has received some assistance from 88mph, a accelerator program for African start ups run in collaboration with Google for Entrepreneurs.
So, to find out more about the studio, its projects and mobile games development in the world's second most-populus continent, we spoke to Gamsole founder Olaniran Abiola.
Pocket Gamer: Could you tell us about your latest game, Traffic Madness, and more generally how you attempt to portray 'African realities' in your games?
Olaniran Abiola: Traffic Madness is a racing/action game with a difference, in that it depicts the African environment. You can race in Nairobi, Lagos, Freetown and other African cities.
It's a free-to-play game in which players can buy weapons with the coins they earn while driving or pay 99c to get an equivalent of 1,000 virtual coins.
And unlike a typical racing game, Traffic Madness lets you bribe the African policemen when you are busted.
After all, human situations and behaviours are not the same everywhere. We create fun, with captivating graphic arts to represent the African environment.
Traffic Panic on Android
One of the games in our pipeline is about mosquitoes in different African societies. Meanwhile, one of our past games was called Corruption Monsters, and had you playing as a hero eradicating corrupt Nigerian politicians.
We developed it while still in school, and it got attention from our fellow students as they could relate to it.
So, we create games which African people can relate with, and games new to people from other parts of the world.
What markets are you targeting with your games?
Our games are for both a global audience and an African audience.
We always make sure they have great fun factors and captivating graphics, but they also deal with subjects that our African audience can really relate to.
How prevalent is smartphone use across Africa? Is one operating system particularly dominant?
As a team from Nigeria, but currently present in Nairobi, Kenya, we have seen that generally Android mobile devices have more penetration in Africa.
Companies such as Samsung, Nokia and LG have good presence in Africa.
What can you tell us about the state of the mobile games industry in Africa? Are there a lot of studios?
We see a great opportunity in gaming in Africa.
A few other studios are also coming up, most of which are more focussed on browser based games.
We, on the other hand, think smartphones are the only device you can find with majority of Africans and this gives us a huge advantage and opportunity, also putting us in the leadership position as the studio with the highest number of users.
What are the unique challenges of operating in Africa as a mobile games developer?
Infrastructure and capital can be the biggest challenge which is one of the main reasons why our team moved to Nairobi, Kenya.
Gamsole has been participating in an accelerator program called 88mph. Could you tell us a little about how that program has worked, and how it has helped you?
We have been part of the program since October, and in that time we have been making use of their facilities plus we have gotten some seed investment from European investors.
Our demo-day is on 13 December where we will be showcasing some of our unique African games.
Thanks to Olaniran for his time.