Introducing an era of “collaborative game development”

The following entry is a guest post from Ahmed Mohamed Maawy, one half of the driving force behind the ‘Koozooker Labs’ initiative, a platform designed to inspire collaborative game development across the continent. Read his thoughts below:

Over a period of close to two years, myself and Aly Salim have found ourselves talking a bit more about gaming, and our passion for developing amazing — but very simple — games. Our relationship though goes way beyond this. We have been together for more than 5 years. We have been behind initiatives that have revolutionized tech community & tech hub setups in Kenya — and I believe even Africa. We had setup initiatives like SwahiliBox and MakersHub — initiatives that have pioneered different ways of thinking around technology hubs in Africa. SwahiliBox pioneered the idea that technology hubs could thrive outside Nairobi (or an African Capital) — we inspired the likes of Quartz Africa to talk about this very concept — and Indigo Trust to see potential in investing in hubs outside African Capitals. Its been a swell ride, with ups and downs. But we now move onto the next thing altogether.

Aly is a gaming enthusiast, having studied mobile gaming at the University of Wolverhampton and I myself taught myself the art of game development. We have setup the Koozooker GameJam Platform under our Koozooker intitiative. Koozooker GameJam is a new way of thinking about how Games are developed. Basically, when we were playing around with Gaming, we realized how difficult it was for individuals to come up with amazing game ideas. Most successful games come backed by companies or individuals who are amazingly creative on all fronts. But you would find brilliant coders or illustrators or sound engineers who lack a platform that can accommodate their brilliant ideas — by allowing them to work collaboratively together — and to ultimately complement each other. And the GameJam platform solves this problem.

Basically, we put together a concept built around social game development, inspired by the ideas behind Open Source, and Technology Communities. GameJam is a platform that allows you to develop a very simple base game (which is a game foundation), then put it out there as a contest to crowd-source amazing ideas. Its like defining a game theme and letting others go wild about how they can creatively develop on top of the theme. Upon completion — each developer will submit their ideas by publishing them against each game jam concept they modify. The GameJam platform achieves this by employing a very rich and powerful Javascript scripting tool at its core.

Rollout and initial GameJam

On January the 25th 2020 we rolled the platform out with a very simple GameJam concept. The concept is a base game that has 3 levels. These 3 levels are de-activated unless code is injected to make it work. In essence the solution is so simple it could be implemented with 20 lines of code. We did this simple preliminary GameJam at SwahiliBox. Below are a couple of photos from the event:

We were really excited to see how simple it was for the folks in the room to grasp the concept and to implement working solutions. We shall move ahead with more engagement on this platform, and continue with the development of the concept.

Concluding

There is a lot to cover in this new field we got into — and we acknowledge this. We are going to invest efforts into 2 initiatives we have set up — which include the Distribution Platform and setting up Koozooker Labs — the R&D wing of our initiative. We already have community members psyched up in investing efforts with us in our lab program. We shall be extremely refined and focused when it comes to how we grow these initiatives. But do keep an eye open.

We hope this becomes the beginning of new and brilliant initiatives to transform the gaming landscape.