African collective, Arutu Gaming has had their maiden title Conqueror of Words accepted into the Diverse Game Developers Fund Program.
The 15 person strong group which was founded by Dominion Ero and is one of many initiatives forged from the embers of the pandemic started from a series of ambitious games industry workshops called Nduzi. The weeklong event which was hosted online, but streamed from Port Harcourt (Nigeria) brought together multiple facets of the industry and featured among others representatives from Google as speakers. All gathered with a shared passion for developing the games industry in Nigeria.
Rallied on by Dom, a few of the attendees vowed to stick around with a desire to work on something together. They quickly took on the moniker of Arutu Gaming and outlined a project within the mobile hypercasual space. That project would make up the pitch for their prototype funding application – called Conqueror of Words.
Conqueror of Words is a guess game. Players have to combine their knowledge of word compositions, probability and sheer luck to win. To begin each level, a word is displayed to the player, with each letter of the displayed word on a card. Then the cards are flipped over and scrambled. Players then have to serially predict whether each card contains a consonant or a vowel.
If the premise of a guessing game sounds full hardy, Dom admits the decision by the IGDA to name them as one of the recipients of the fund came as a shock. So much so, the team felt compelled to reach out and ask them why they were selected.
“I had a test project I had been fiddling around with for a while. I didn’t think it was anything particularly special. But I pulled it out, refined it a bit with the team. Sent in the pitch and just like that…we were in. I didn’t expect it. I felt it was a great game, but realistically it was in my head. Which kind of compelled us to ask the IGDA why they picked our project and they said it was based on two things,”
They felt the concept itself was something that would really fly and the ideas we had monetizing the game were rather unique which excited them enough to want to see it brought to life.Dominion Ero
Whilst the team has work ahead of them transitioning their vision into something tangible, the five person project team has ambitions beyond Conqueror of Words.
The Diverse Game Developers Fund was launched earlier in 2021 with the goals of administering at least $200,000 directly to independent developers and studios for expanding on prototypes. With an additional $50,000 earmarked for academic scholarships and remaining funds used as cash prizes for game jams.
A steering committee including former Microsoft game publishing vice president Edward Fries, Vlambeer co-founder Rami Ismail, Founder of Curran Games Agency (CGA) Cassia Curran, Patreon head of policy Laurent Crenshaw, Game Jolt CEO Yaprak DeCarmine, Shark Tank consultant Brandon Andrews, former Crystal Dynamics lead producer Shana Bryant, Games and Learning CTO Mark DeLoura, HBCU direct gaming CEO Rod Chappell, former PAX content director Guy “Yug” Blomberg, and others oversaw the fund.
The working group behind Conqueror of Words from Arutu Gaming consists of Dominion Ero, Hakeem Lawal, Chijoke Aaron, Alvine Wafula and Princess Idongesit Eyo.