Posts tagged africa

iWarrior: an African iPhone Game

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I love seeing stuff like this !

East and West Africa collaborating on game and then distributing it via the App Store. More of the same guys. Keep it up.

Maybe for their next project we can temporarily relocate them to the Silicon Cape ?

iWarrior: an African iPhone Game: “

There aren’t a lot of African gamers, as would be expected due to the general lack of access to gaming technology and platforms in Africa, relative to other parts of the world. There are even fewer game developers on the continent. Due to being a gamer myself, I like to keep track of this as much as possible, and it’s always fun to announce a new one.

iWarrior - an African iPhone gameiWarrior is an iPhone game (iTunes link), created by the cross-Afrian team of Kenyan Wesley Kirinya and Ghanaian Eyram Tawia of Leti Games. It’s a unique top-down shooter game that utilizes the iPhone’s inbuilt accelerometer to both move and shoot. Your goal: protect your village, livestock and garden from the incoming marauding animals.

It’s a great first-effort from the team, and I believe it’s the first game created by a team in Africa. This itself is a much more difficult task than what many might expect. Just to get an iTunes account and a way to be be paid for your application is a challenge due to Apple’s inbuilt prejudice against Africa (they’re not alone in this, as many other platforms, like PayPal’s or Google Checkout’s are the same). That seems like a dramatic statement to make, but I ask you to stay your judgment until you’ve walked in the shoes of an African programmer.

Gameplay
I’m not an exceptionally talented twitch gamer, so I found the unique movement plus shooting actions hard to come to terms with. However, as I played it longer, I found myself slowly figuring it out and getting better at it. Thankfully, the team has built in a completely different way to play using your finger to slide and tap, you can move and shoot. So, for the accelerometer-challenged (like me) there’s another option. :)

iWarrior also allows you to play your own music while playing the game. This might seem small, but it’s something a lot of game maker’s overlook, and it’s a lot more fun than listening to the same repetitious in-game music.

The game costs $2.99, which is a little steep for new games on the iPhone. For many reasons the costs of most applications (games or otherwise) on the App Store have been driven to about 99cents. So, it takes either a really big name or an app that has hard to replicate features in order to break past $1.99 and sell a lot. In the team’s defense, it’s difficult for them to download paid games to test and see if they compare to their own prior to putting it on the market (again, due to them being in Africa).

Graphics
The graphics are okay. I’m a stickler on this type of thing though, and I go for either over-the-top quality or simplicity. Examples of this is comparing Fieldrunners to Doodle Jump, both excellent graphically, yet with completely different aesthetics.

iPhone game design - fieldrunners vs doodle jump

So, I’m going to ding the team on this part of the game. This, after a lengthy discussion in Ghana with Eyram over the difficulties of finding quality digital artists. It’s not an easy thing to do, the best designers aren’t digitally literate, with a few exceptions. So, you get great sketching and painting, but few can put that into vector graphics, 3d or even Photoshop.

Though the challenge is high, we live in a digitally connected world where top quality digital artists from Asia and Eastern Europe can be found to do the work at acceptable rates. There are other options, and a game can be made or broken on looks alone.

Summary

iWarrior is an excellent first game on the iPhone platform from two highly talented and creative African game developers. I expect that there will be a lot of good games, and other applications, coming from this team over time – both on the iPhone and other platforms. It’s a game to be proud of and one that I hope a lot of others will buy.

(Via White African.)

When will todays smartphone be a “dumbphone” ?

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I read this article on TechCentral this morning (thanks for summing it up Duncan) and had some assumptions that I made and communicated to an overseas company reaffirmed.

The power of mobile technology and more specifically mobile Internet technology is the only answer to bring online services to the masses in South Africa. I’m definitely not the first person to make this revelation and there are a number of local organisations that are pioneering mobile technologies to deliver services to people that don’t have access to the Internet from a computer.

Less than 10% of our population has access to the Internet at home. I don’t see this changing much over the next five to ten years either. The barriers in place for a man in street to get access the Internet from home are almost insurmountable. Firstly he would need electricity at home, a luxury that a large percentage of our population does not have. He would need a computer (in whatever form), a telephone line (OK, there are other options to having a telephone line, but 3G usage rates are still way to high for them to be a feasible option), some kind of modem and an account with some form of ISP. No mean feat for someone that may earn less than R2,000 a month.

The problem that the man in street faces today is that the cellphone in his (or her) pocket is probably not a smartphone. The small screen and limited browser capabilities on his device limit his ability to view content and interact with online services. More expesive mobile devices (smartphones) solve this problem, so the question is, “When will the smartphone of today be the dumbphone of tomorrow ?”. At the rate that mobile technology is progressing, probably not that long. These advancements are what will make the Internet truly accessible to the South African public.

Imagine the possibilities that exist once everyone has a phone that can render a web 2.0 site. Accessing (well designed) government websites that provide you with valuable information, allowing you to see your rates account, paying your new vehicle registration, booking your drivers license, applying for a new ID book, etc etc. There are obviously some other challenges around security and verification, but at least part of the process can be online instead of waiting in the same queue three times before being able to get your drivers license renewed.

In the meantime I hope companies like Google continue to develop SMS based services that enable people in Uganda to benefit from online services with their dumbphones.

Cellphone users to hit 4,6bn this year: “The world will have 4,6bn mobile phone users by the end of the year, according to new research from the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union (ITU). At the same time, mobile broadband subscriptions are expected to reach 600m.
According to the ITU’s ‘The World in 2009: ICT Facts and Figures’ shows there are now more mobile […]

(Via TechCentral.)

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