Chat with Khumo Moerane

Africa Space Programme Video Games Studio and Publishing was founded by Khumo Moerane in 2019. Their first video game Kea’s World: Tselane and the Giant is a magical 2.5D platform adventure game about exploring and restoring African folklore. The Africa Space Programme was also created to promote game development across the African continent as well as to help bring as many diverse African developers as possible to help grow our industry. He chats with GIA about the vision for ASP.

GIA: You founded ASP with an ambition to develop games based around African stories and history, how critical is content with a localised flavour to achieving your goal?

KM: Infusing the video games we create with our South African and African flavour is vitally important. The mission is to reflect in every game with as much Africaness as possible, there should be no doubt that the game you are playing is African. Our African flavour helps endear our games to our African audience and set us apart from other games globally. I want to create games that speak to African video game players, games that resonate with them and in doing this we will get their buy in and support in helping to grow our industry in African. We have unique stories and ways of expressing ourselves, the world has not seen or experienced this, and this is our ace in the hole, this is how we will capture the world’s attention and love by putting all ourselves into the games we create.

GIA: Do you believe games should play a more pivotal role in the representation, education and archiving of African stories? What do you view as the challenges most developers face in embracing this stance?

KM: Videos games are the most engaging medium of today and their reach is undeniable. We have a responsibility to use this powerful medium to uplift our continent, to help move our continent forward. Africans have been too long overlooked in this industry and it is up to us to now promote a new version of ourselves, one that is not just consumers, one that creates as well. Representation has the power to inspire, to ignite people’s imaginations, if you see yourself in a video game, you start to think that you belong to this and you can be a part of it. We are also able to tell our story in the right way, in a meaningful way, and no longer will our stories and histories be left to someone else to tell for us.

Khumo Moerane

I believe the challenge developers face is the need to earn a living. The situation that we are in is that there has not been a focus on creating an African market for African video games. To earn a living the developers here create games for the Western and Asian markets where they believe they have a better chance to generating revenue. This creates a negative self sustaining loop, no revenue can be found in African video games if we don’t strive to create an African video games market. We have seen how Africans express themselves in other mediums, we had Kwaito rise here in South Africa and Nollywood in Nigeria as examples of Africans looking inward and creating something new that spoke to them and in turn they created new markets and industries for themselves. It is a challenge we must met head on, strive to create games that talk to our continent and in turn our continent will support us and we will grow from there.

GIA: With publishing as a key component of ASP, what steps and partnerships have been established to showcase representation and content from all regions of Africa?

KM: The motivation behind working towards becoming a publishing company is to become the investors we wish we had when we started out. To grow our African video games industry we need to have as many diverse voices as possible come into the industry. We have 54 countries in Africa, that is so many amazing stories and possibilities, we need games from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Kenya, the DRC etc, they will enrich our industry in unimaginable ways, inspire more people to take interest in our African video games industry and to ultimately create their own games. I cannot wait to see what will come from our continent and ASP aims to help these game developers make their mark and succeed in the gaming industry.

As a new company, we are using our first game Kea’s World as case study of how to go about marketing and publishing our games to African video game players. Marketing is everything and we are learning day by day through releasing Kea’s World. We are finding and creating new connections along the way. Our passion is pushing us forward along with all the awesome people out there who have come out to support us and help make our dreams a reality. I cannot emphasis enough how validating and motivating this experience has been because of the people who have come out and rallied behind us and offered us help along the way. This is the energy we want to bring to the video game studios we will help publish in the future, we want to see African video game development move forward, we want to see Africa move forward and we will do all we can to make that a reality.

Kea’s World

GIA: What tips do you have for any publishers looking to also shine the spotlight on the trove of talent across the continent?

KM: I would say trust, faith and belief are needed. As African video games developers we are venturing into the unknown but we believe there is bright future ahead of us. There is an exciting journey ahead of us, an epic adventure awaits, but the map is being drawn with each step we take. The faith, support, encouragement and validation that investors place in us is invaluable, it reassures you that your dreams are important, that what you’ve committed your life to a worthy cause. We need to commitment all the resources at our disposal to be able to properly help all the fledgling African video game studios. The only way we will make African video games development a success is being going all in together. I’m going to quote one of the most quoted African quotes now but it does resonate with our mission so please bear me 🙂 “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

GIA: What does 2020 hold for ASP?

KM: Our mission now is raise funding to create Kea’s World 2. Kea’s World 1 was solely developed by myself, which was an amazing experience but to take the Kea’s World Series to greater heights our mission in 2020 is to create the next game with a team of developers and artists. A spoiler / not really a spoiler is that Kea’s World 2 will feature Kea’s twin sister, so we really excited about that and looking forward to expanding this awesome games series.

We will undoubtably continue to promote and champion African video games development, along with educating and engaging with investors about the value of African video games development. We will also engage more with video game developers both in South Africa and the rest of the African continent. Finally on the game development side, will also explore a new African video game series separate to Kea’s World, along with creating African inspired mobile casual games.

Playtopia MGA will take place at the Castle in Cape Town between December 5 to December 7. For further details as well as how to get your ticket, visit the Playtopia website.