Boosting the economy through video games
British Council britishcouncil.org (@@BritishCouncil)
Kemri Wellcome Trust
As a child growing up in Kenya, Eryam Tawia was baffled by the video games he played – not a single one was about, or made by, anyone in Africa. As he grew older he realised that while the games industry is worth billions of dollars, it is dominated by companies from the US and East Asia. Opening up the market in African countries would lead to significant job creation and education opportunities.
Tawia wasn’t alone in his thinking. Across the continent in Ghana, Wesley Kirinya was so dismayed by the lack of African games, that he created an African version of Lara Croft on his own aged 18. The pair connected, and in spite of living thousands of miles apart, they set up Leti Arts to develop games based on African history and folklore.
Leti Arts’ first game, Africa Legends, features characters inspired by great African historical figures. The free game was released three years ago and has since been downloaded more than 50,000 times by players mostly from Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya as well as the US and UK. The content is delivered via Leti Arts’ mobile distribution platform, Leti Center, which is available on Android, Windows phone and Nokia Java devices, to better serve Africa’s residents, most of whom lack high-speed internet.
“The West has demonstrated great success with the Greek mythologies as well as the Nordic myths,” says Tawia. “This is what Africa’s Legends is going to do for us – bring our rich culture into the 21st century.”
Thanks to a $100,000 investment from Ghana’s Meltwater Foundation, as well as a healthy annual income generated by the company’s commercial commissions, Leti Arts is able to employ eight full-time staff in Ghana and Kenya while working on a programme to provide training to aspiring game developers. Follow their updates at www.facebook.com/LetiArts
Image courtesy of Jason Devaun
Last updated: 10th of August, 2016