Andrew Kagia made history in June 17, this year, when he launched Kenya’s first Video game. This first has caused quite a buzz, and Kenyans are still talking about, two weeks after the launch.
The first person shooter game is set in Nairobi, and is centered on a fictional character, Otero, who is part of the recce squad, and is intent on saving the city from an alien invasion.
The game begins at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, where Otero begins his mission after being briefed.
Though the game pales in comparison to global heavyweights such as Call Of Duty and Grand Theft Auto, it will forever be the cradle of the Kenyan gaming industry. Playing a game with Kenyan music in the background and Jua Cali billboards on the streets is quite an experience.
Nothing beats blasting away aliens with Times Tower in the background, and “sheg” commands blasting through the headphones.
With over 22billion dollars turnover in 2014, the gaming industry is serious business. From programmers, scriptwriters, animators, costume designers, to Hollywood super stars, video games employ an unimaginable number of people.
As they aim to thrill and out do themselves; these games spark technological advancement that ultimately find use in other industries.
To improve a gamer’s experience, companies are constantly engaged in an arms race that has seen video games rival traditional entertainment.
It is estimated that more than 155 million people in the USA play video games, many of whom admit watching less TV, and movies as a result. Also, video game graphics have become so realistic, that it almost feels like you are watching and acting in your own movie.
As game income surpass those of Hollywood blockbusters, Game developers are even using Hollywood stars in their games, where they use advanced videography to capture facial expressions and body movements.
Mad Men star, Christina Hendricks, starred in “Need for Speed: The Run” and Liam Neeson voiced the main character’s father in the postapocalyptic “Fallout 3.”
Often, these stars likeness is replicated on screen, so gamers can take part in a street fight as Carmen Electra, or take part in a street race as Vin Diesel.
Speaking of likeness, Kevin Spacy’s appearance on “Call of duty: Advanced” in 2014, cemented the dominance of games, and established them as a legitimate artistic expression.
Andrew’s achievement is no mean fit, considering it takes a team of approximately 200 five years to develop a game at a cost of 100 to 500 million dollars. He says:
“I actually lost weight during the development process, I’d lock myself in a room for days without eating. It took me a year to make this game; I did all the work on my own.”
He adds, “I’ve always played games where I killed aliens in New York, Los Angeles and London, so I thought to myself, why not bring aliens to Nairobi?”
Andrew’s love affair with coding and animation began when he was young. Unlike other children who watch cartoons for entertainment, he wondered how they came to life. In high school, he got his hands on animation software and was immediately hooked. Before launching his own game, Andrew worked for several high profile clients, including The XYZ Show, Nescafe, V500, The Property Show and The DB Agency.
“Programmers have a ‘God’ complex, I think it’s because we have the ability to create something that we can manipulate. Math fascinates me, when I start coding, I get into a zone and can be fixated on it for days. I just love the art of creating something out of nothing, the satisfaction of seeing my vision come to life.”
Hard core gamers had been waiting for the release of Kenya’s first content with bated breath. Within two days of its release, gaming blogs were reviewing the game and dishing out cheat tricks. There was an outcry about glitches’ and bugs, with one enthusiast faulting the game for its extreme difficulty, and a flawed soundtrack.
“Every game has glitches – I’ve gotten some helpful feedback, and I have corrected some of the shortcomings pointed out,” he explains.
“I am open to positive criticism because you can’t grow unless you are open to criticism. I have three other games at development stage; the next one will be released by August this year. In future, I hope to join hands with other animators, so that we can use our combined skills to improve the gaming quality.”
Humble beginnings are often appreciated long after the achievement, but history records such moments. One day, the Kenyan gaming industry will be a source of great national pride, making a turn over of billions and creating thousands of jobs. When that day comes, we will all remember Nairobi X.
MILESTONES IN THE KENYAN ANIMATION INDUSTRY
2006 Association of Animation Artistes (A3) founded by a group of Kenyan animators.
2008 UK company, Tiger Aspect, sets up animation studios in Nairobi, producing the Tinga Tinga Tales animated series.
2009 Buni Tv creates the infamous political satire series, The XYZ Show.
2011 Andrew Kaggia releases 3D animated award-winning political critique, Wageuzi. This is featured on international news stations including CNN, winning Best Animation at the Kalasha 2012 Awards, and at the Hiroshima International Animation Festival.
2012 Kwame Nyong’o releases Legend of Ngong Hills, winning best Animated Film at the Africa Movie Awards in Nigeria.
2012 Ng’endo Mukii releases Kenya’s first Documentary Animation, Yellow Fever, winning Best Animated Short at the Chicago International Film Festival.
2013 Fat Boy animations release the highly popular, Faiba advertisements.
2014 Alex Kirui creates the animated comedy YouTube series, Makarao TV.
2015 Black Division Games (co-founded by Andrew Kaggia) releases Nairobi X, Kenyan’s first 3D action game, based in a futuristic Nairobi.
GAME DEVELOPMENT PROCESS: 1. Concept – The idea of what your game will be about. Is it a racing game? A fighting game? Or maybe a first person shooter like Nairobi X?
2. Pre-production- This is where you work on factors such as writing the storyline, putting together a comprehensive design document detailing the game’s goals, level designs and gameplay mechanics.
3. Production- Actual development phase of the game. This is where all the artwork, animation, music and programming take place.4. Release – Unveiling the game to the public.
Where to get Nairobi-X
Mobile version of game available for free on Google Playstore
PC version available on www.nairobi-x.com
Game has a rating of 4.2 out of 5 on playstore
credit – allafrica.com