Gaming in Africa. Where Culture and Tech collide.
- Africa is a gaming continent
- The numbers don’t lie
- Trends in African Gaming development
- The Wire speaks to Professional Gamer and Youtuber Grant Hinds
No other industry was more effectively positioned to flourish than gaming when the pandemic struck and global lockdown occurred. Between entertainment, digital art, online gatherings in their millions and that the tech could be engaged with from home, saw a phenomenal increase of gamers, notably in Africa. The numbers are astonishing: a 2021 study commissioned by games analytics company Newzoo and Carry1st, a South African gaming platform, place the number of gamers in Sub-Saharan Africa at 186 million. South Africa has 24 million gamers with a phenomenal 40% of the population actively gaming. Next is Ghana (27%) and Nigeria (23%), Kenya (22%) and Ethiopia (13%). Africa is indeed a gaming continent!
Two interesting trends have emerged.
New elements with an emphasis on ownership, are being added by developers. This allows gamers to own characters and assets within the games, leveraging on blockchain technology and increasing engagement like never before. Usiku Games Africa, a Kenyan based Social Impact gaming company, is seeking to position tech-savvy youth ahead of the 4th industrial revolution, to take advantage of a new era of blockchain gaming. Envisaged are protocols like enforced savings mechanisms that have been developed to redirect the earnings towards long-term saving instruments such as pension schemes, health, and education insurance, which will shore up the low savings culture among African youth and build up their financial resilience.
Africa and Digital currencies.
It is clear the gaming industry is generating millions of dollars from Africa. Given that 63 million of the 186 million gamers pay for games, it is projected that Africa will be the fastest growing in the world as the continent adopts digital currencies. Africa and the Middle East have a combined 5.9 million gamers owning crypto, demonstrating the ease of adoption, use and lifestyle implementation of digital currencies.
With the above in mind, the WIRE spoke to professional gamer and Youtuber Grant Hinds, for an inside look into the state of gaming in South Africa.
The WIRE (TW): How quickly does gaming evolve and how do you keep up?
Grant Hinds (GH): Gaming evolves incredibly fast. From a player’s perspective, the mobile experience has grown quickly in quality and engagement. From a business perspective, the industry has been very agile in adapting to the needs of gamers, both in tech and content, which has proven to be profitable
TW: Where do you feel tech is going to take gaming?
GH: The development and growth in gaming technology will allow gaming to evolve both creatively, as well as increase the ease of the ability to game, creating more powerful, beautiful games while increasing the number of players.
TW: What are the three main characteristics of a top gamer?
GH: Communication – especially for team-based games – hand, eye coordination and, problem solving
TW: Is there ever a moment when it feels like the ‘real world’ becomes a virtual one?
GH: No, and that’s a good thing. Our minds and bodies are disposed to discern what is real and what is not. As gaming tech evolves to become more immersive, we will see more and more realistic features. But reality is still the ultimate gaming experience.
TW: What’s your specialty/favourite game?
GH: Overwatch. It’s a pacy, team-based, competitive shooter game. I love it.
TW: Is there a “Culture” of gaming and how would you define it?
GH: Yes, I believe there is. Obviously its built around the experience of gaming, as diverse in content that there is. But there are unifying traits like jargon, in-jokes, language, and terms specific to the world of gaming, social mores, and codes of behavior (including the outliers). Once could even equate the sporting nature of it to a culture of golf or rugby. It’s not perfect and some of it can be toxic, but we are working on it, making it safe for kids and so on.
TW: Are women who game the exception to the sport or are they taken seriously?
GH: Women who game are often overlooked, and not necessarily because they don’t qualify for competitive events. The culture and gaming environment can be patriarchal and often antagonistic to women competing with women gamers exposed to vitriol. But again, I do believe there is a change taking place as shifts in popular culture occur and these filter through to gaming.
TW: How do you perceive the future of gaming in South Africa?
GH: Very bright. The biggest drive is mobile related which has led to an increase in mobile gamers. South Africa has a robust gaming market, leading in Africa and it’s set to grow.
TW: Do you ever encounter any “African” themes, cultural heritage etc., in gaming?
GH: There are very few African cultural themes in gaming. However, there has been an expressed interest from international publicists to include African cultural tropes, heritage, and narratives – and this is exciting.
C.S.A.’s monthly cultural portal, The WIRE connects the dots of culture. With concise stories, many with video content, take a premium dive into the world of African entertainment & cultural fluidity. It’s one thing to be hip to what’s happening but it is another to know why.
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