Lists of such a nature are inherently subjective, back slapping popularity contests. However, in an unprecedented year, never has the need been greater to acknowledge the many that make up this maturing industry. This list in no particular order celebrates the many faces, voices and personas that continue to overcome unique challenges. All for the love of gaming. So in no particular order, here are the teams and individuals of the year.
Teams of the year
Free Lives (South Africa)
Cape Town developers of Broforce broke new ground with Gorn on VR and continue to support the development of the South African gaming space by sponsoring the annual South African game jam.
Noohkema Interactive / Joinplay (Cameroon)
Expanded their studio offering to Europe as well as became one of the early recipients of the Black Humble Fund.
Yourun Ltd (Tunisia / Malta)
The Tunisian/Maltese hybrid studio had their game Warshmallows win the Audience Choice Award at Nordic Games Discovery Contest
NewGen Studios (Tunisia)
Four years and still going strong. If that isn’t worth celebrating, I’m not sure what is.
Design Imps (South Africa)
Won the African leg of Nordic Game Discovery Contest with their game The Endless Wyrd, a dice-deck building, roguelite adventure on PC.
Maliyo Games (Nigeria)
Whot King card game, developed by the Nigerian studio was featured on the Nigerian App store.
Usiku Games (Kenya)
A different kind of studio with a different approach. Made it’s mark by creating a styling game that emphasized the You in BeYoutiful targeting young African gamers.
Internet of Elephants (Kenya)
Leading the AR and iOT charge across the continent culminating in a number of lucrative campaigns with the likes of Adidas.
Team Laserbeam (South Africa)
They developer and released the most unique experience of the year. Their colourful artsy looking -punk sounding hybrid Teenage Blob’ which was Half game. Half album was funded by the makers of SUPERHOT.
Twin Drums (Ghana / Global)
Twin Drums became the first recipient of Riots developer fund, had a successful Kickstarter and working on an ambitious MMORPG – The Wagadu Chronicles.
Qene Games (Ethiopia)
Releases Gebeta. Signs distribution deal with publisher Carry1st and caps off the year winning the best African App. All things considered, it’s been a pretty decent year.
Carry1st (South Africa)
Year 1 of their goal to help developers monetize their games has culminated in Gebeta winning the continents top prize along with a bunch of awards in tow. Can’t wait to see what their 2021 and beyond brings about.
Persons of the year
Dynasto Afedo (Ghana)
Perceived over 18 months to release the top ranking racing game on the App store.
Bethlehem Antenah (Ethiopia)
Founding member of the Ethiopian Games Association, an Enter Africa alumni and an organizer of Ethiopias first gaming focused event.
Nick Hall (South Africa)
Founding member of Africa Games Week, founder of Make Game South Africa, advisor to numerous studios in South Africa and one of the vocal oppositions voices against the country’s drive to police internet and digital industry.
Lual Mayen (South Sudan / US)
Working on his first game, Salaam. As a result of global exposure from being featured as a Global Gaming Citizen at the Game Awards, he has helped shine a spotlight on gaming in the continent.
Douglas Ogeto (Kenya)
Ludique Works front figure. The Kenyan outfit has been instrumental in building numerous gaming communities across the continent. Also on the board of the recently announced industry association.
Sithe Ncube (Zambia / South Africa)
Arguably the jewel in the continents games industry crown, Sithe has had a busy year. From her continued work with Prosearium, multiple speaking engagements to being appointed a strategic advisor at Humble Bundle.
Sidick Bakayoko (Côte d’Ivoire)
FEJA’s founding father has had another whirlwind year. From running Paradise Games, reinventing FEJA as well as lending his insight and network into the African Game Developers Association, his drive to shine the spotlight on the local games industry shows no signs of waning.
Johana Riquier (UK)
An impassioned Unity ambassador, Johana has championed the merits of technology to new and established game developers across the continent.
Abubakar Salim (Kenya / UK)
An acclaimed actor and BAFTA award nominee, it would have been easy for Abubakar to maintain his love of gaming from a distance and support the local scene through less taxing ways. However, founding a new studio with a diverse roster of heralded industry names, has given him the platform to oversee the creation of games and experiences people from the continent would love to play.
Olivier Madiba (Cameroon)
In a year where a lot more studios across the continent opened up to the idea of crowdfunding, Kiro’o Games once again led by Olivier not only delved into new territory with their first mobile game, but they were once again led from the front and even got the Cameroonian government to endorse Kiro’o Rebuntu – their own crowdfunding platform.
Bukola Akingbade (Nigeria)
With a business built on developing the esports talents of the next generation, Bukola has carved out a unique niche. With deals and partnerships including, but not limited to Nickelodeon, UKIE and Digital Schoolhouse secured this year, she has helped bring esports to a demographic rarely covered in the gaming presses.
Eyram Tawia (Ghana)
The CEO and co-founder of Leti Arts has continued to champion the merits of gaming beyond its creative aspects. From winning numerous industry accolades, helping launch a formal game development education initiative to being the first chairperson at the first African Game Developer Association, it’s been a momentous year for all the right reasons.
Samia Chelbi (Tunisia)
Also a member of the first pan African Game Developers Association. However, it’s her tireless effort and passion for game development education that earns her a spot on this list, where together with Eyram and a host of other partners, received an Epic Mega Grant to launch the African GameDev initiative. A full interview with Samia will run early next year.