Vipin Dhunnoo is the founder and XR Architect at Generative Arts – an indie game developer, based on the island of Mauritius who has been making games and immersive experiences for the past five years.
Currently, developing Pieter Both Village, which is based on local folktales (with a modern touch), he took some time to speak to GIA about his ambitions and the state of gaming in Mauritius.
How did you get your entry into the games industry?
I am an architect by trade and whilst investigating novel means of architectural visualisation, over 9 years ago, I came across game engines. I initially used game engines to create immersive walkthroughs for clients but I enjoyed making games so much that I kept creating the latter. It is much more fun and I can better express my creativity!
What is the state of Mauritius’ game industry?
Unfortunately you can’t say that there is a game industry in Mauritius as of yet. That is one of the reasons that I keep making games to attempt to drive interest. However, there is interest in the field and lots of gamers as you can image. There is not the framework to promote such an industry locally.
Are there any other local developers you are aware of and if so, how do you support each other?
There are a few around and have been in touch with a couple especially with the indie developers. However as I was away for a couple of years I lost touch with some but keen to re-connect especially with the proliferation of social media like Discord, communication has never been so accessible. Old ways of meeting up, during events and tech conferences, are also a good way to connect.
As a person with ambitions to develop your own studio, which platform would you say is the dominant one in Mauritius (PC, mobile etc)?
Mobile platforms, mainly Android, for casual games are very popular among the younger demographic. PC is also prevalent, if I may say, with serious gamers.
Could you talk more about any games you have developed and your aspirations within the games industry?
All the games I have made so far have a focus on Mauritian environments and folk stories. That is my niche and I believe that games are a key means of storytelling especially for the younger generation. I take a lot of inspiration from my favourite action/adventure games, like Super Mario, Tomb Raider, Resident Evil and Uncharted for the mechanics, with a twist of Mauritian favour. Additionally, I am always trying to be efficient by building on the previous game to learn and make the next game better.
Could you briefly outline the process of setting up a studio in Mauritius for someone who might be keen to invest in the region?
I am not too sure about the investment aspect to be honest as the industry is still quasi non-existent. However, getting in touch with individual studios to see their funding needs might be a way forward.
How do you see the Mauritius games industry evolving over the next few years?
Interesting question indeed! Over the next year, I don’t see much of a change but at a personal level I would like to publish my first PC game and hopefully use this as a basis for inspiration for the younger generation, from Mauritius and the Indian Ocean islands. For the next 5 to 10 years, we will hopefully see more local studios cropping up and collaborating with the more established studios from mainland Africa and worldwide.