This piece is a guest contribution from Stephen Ojo. A freelance writer based in Nigeria with an interest in gaming and the legal challenges faced by creative teams.

Game development as a niche area of entertainment in Africa is one that holds a lot of promise for the future. However, one of the many problems it is facing, is the dearth of talent when it comes to setting up a game studio and this is a problem that most game entrepreneurs in Africa are finding it difficult to find a way around.

We met up with 18 years old Favour Abba, who is an indie game developer from Nigeria, in order to discuss his journey into game development and how the life of an indie game developer in Nigeria looks like.

GIA: Good day, Favour, can you introduce yourself and how you got involved in game development?

Favour: My name is Favour Abba and I am an indie game developer from Nigeria. I fell in love with game development at the age of 13, where I was trying to figure out an entry point into tech. I played around with a lot of other areas but eventually fell in love with game development. My passion for game development led me to create my own gaming studio which I called Havor Studios, at the age of 16. Till date, I have published one PC game called SURVIVORS ARK, under it.

GIA: Interesting, so can you briefly tell us about your game Survivors Ark?

Favour: I started developing the game alone, two years ago. Survivors Ark is a third person shooter game in which the storyline is set at a time where the ozone layer is depleted and produces substances that turn human beings into creatures called Kragers. The aim of this game is for the main character, who was not affected, to fight his way through these Kragers in order to arrive at the Survivors Ark at the last stage.

GIA: This game sounds like a must play, so what were the challenges and processes involved in the creation of this game?

Favour: I faced a lot of challenges in the creation of this game. The first one was lack of mentorship/guidance in the gaming scene here in Nigeria. I started the game at 16 and I figured that there was no training or mentorship pathway for upcoming game developers in Nigeria and so, I had to learn through YouTube. On YouTube, I relied on channels such as Brackeys & Jimmy Vegas to be able to build Survivors Ark. 

The second challenge was how to get the skill set required for game development. On the part of programming, I had to learn the Javascript language, as this was the language adopted by the Unity platform I started out with, but Unity later changed to the C# language and once again, I had to rely on YouTube to learn this new language. Other skills I had to learn in relation to my game and with the help of YouTube were Animation, 3D Modelling and UI/UX design.  This is why the game took so long to build.

GIA: So, any landmark achievements/moments you are proud of as a result of working on this game?

Favour: Even though Nigeria is not really big on PC gaming, I was able to publish the game and got some reviews from people within and mostly outside of Nigeria. My proudest moment is coming third in the national game development showcase out of over 50 games submitted in which this showcase was organised by Maliyo games in conjunction with the French Embassy in Nigeria.

This moment gave me some form of validation and made me realise that all that learning process was not for nothing.

GIA: What is next for you in your game development journey?

Favour: Well, I just gained admission to study computing and I am hoping to use this as a medium to connect with other likeminds and eventually, set up a full service gaming studio that not only make good games but also, serve as a studio to help aspiring game developers find their footing in the industry.

GIA: Your advice for upcoming game developers in Nigeria and Africa at large?

Favour: (smiles a little) I don’t know if I am in the best position to give advice because I am also learning about the industry too and trying to find my footing too. All I can say is, fall in love with game development early and stay committed to learning through whatever means especially through YouTube and we have some gaming studios doing well now. Always reach out and network in the gaming space.