Born out of an ambition to unearth, train and support the next generation of gaming talents from across the African continent, GameUp’s second iteration is a success that highlights the thirst for knowledge and a need for structured games industry education.

On announcing GameUp Africa 2022, CEO of Maliyo Games addressed the monumental task ahead of his team with applicants to the program more than trippling from the previous year.

Super delighted that we started this year’s game developer bootcamp with 3x more people than last year from 9 African countries. I have no idea how we’ll train this large volume of individuals from so many diverse cultures and backgrounds, but this is one of the missions Maliyo Games is dedicating time and resources to do. One of my personal goals is to make Africa a major player in the global games industry and through the GameUp Africa bootcamp in partnership with Google, this is one step towards achieving this. It’s going to be a very tough 5 months ahead and I can tell you that we’ll need all the help we can get. 

Hugo Obi, CEO, Maliyo Games

GIA spoke to Hugo to learn about the process as well as to shine the spotlight on some emerging talent from this years program.

Who are the current talents within this year’s iteration that you believe have the potential to leave their mark on the industry within their speciality?

Hugo Obi: When we designed GameUp Africa, we were looking for commitment. Are you able to commit your time to learning game development? It’s a five-month program; are you going to stay on the course for five months? Now, as you can imagine, people drop off for multiple reasons. Some drop off on day one because they don’t have the software or hardware requirements. It could also be motivational reasons; they thought it was going to be easy now it looks like it’s going to be hardwork. It could be other priorities; maybe they’re students or they could be working. But some people start on day one and then make it to month five.  That is 150 days, and they make it all the way to the end.

We love people who are committed. It says a lot about them, that they really care that they spent 150 days learning how to become game developers.  The other important piece is competence. Even though you can stay for 150 days, you might not actually have the skills. You gain the skills by completing the course work,  and getting good scores because each course is graded. We’re looking for people who can complete the courses and score good grades in their assignments. This is how you demonstrate competence.

Finally, you need a bit of creativity. How do you apply yourself? This one’s a lot more subjective, unlike the other two.

GIA: We asked these learners about their experiences so far and this is what they had to say…

Micheal Mfon (Nigeria, M): It’s a privilege to be part of  Game Up Africa 2022. I joined this Bootcamp particularly because I saw Maliyo on it. Earlier this year, I applied for an internship but couldn’t get in due to a lack of resources both skills as well as gadgets to work with. I’ve been enjoying the logic of scripting with C# as much as 3D animations and gaming mechanics-functionality. I’m hoping to have gained sufficient skills to re-apply and make an entry into the gaming industry using the network of great minds I’ve come to interact with during the camp.

Kiera Chenwie (Cameroon, M): I have always adopted the idea of “learning never ends” as a core part of my convictions. I joined because I felt my journey needed this step; to get acquainted with those from other countries and to see how much I know and what more I could learn.

The structure of the learning process and the special guest series are great. I really enjoyed and learned a lot from the last one, too. A sharper, refined knowledge of game development, an improvement in my collaboration and peer communication skills and hopefully leaving a positive mark on my time here by developing a mobile game would prove I learned something from the program.

Chizom Okorie (Nigeria, M): My experience during the Bootcamp has been nothing short of exhilarating. What excites me the most about the training is the ‘Creative Tuesday’ organized on Tuesdays. It serves as an eye-opener to what I can do with Unity by virtue of what several individuals have to showcase. It keeps me inspired. I joined the Bootcamp because I saw it as an opportunity to become better in coding and game development. The African gaming community isn’t well represented and my contribution may be quite small but it could still mean a lot in broadening game development in Africa. At the end of the Bootcamp, I should be conversant with the basics of game development then I can get into intermediate and advanced learning in game development.

Shem Tom (Kenya, M): I joined the Bootcamp to polish my game development skills since I’ve been doing it on a self-study basis. So far, I’ve learned a lot that I didn’t know when I started this journey. Most of them are quite small but have created a big impact. I enjoy how the Bootcamp has created the gradual learning of each course to create a better understanding, and I also love being the team leader who is willing to help the clan in any way possible. By the end of the Bootcamp, I expect to fully discard my doubts about game development, build my confidence, and improve my skills in this field.

Dorothy Orina (Kenya, F): I had been learning game development prior to the Bootcamp and I figured I’d be better motivated to learn and to do it at a faster pace together with other people. This is what led me to apply for the Bootcamp. I love that the courses are procedural and comprehensive. If followed keenly then it becomes a very seamless process. It’s time-consuming for sure, but we all subscribe to spending time doing what we love, and Game Development certainly lights up a fire within me – not in a game-over sort of way, but a burning fuel to keep going. I love it here! My clan members are amazing as well, and I usually look forward to our weekly meetings to interact with and engage with them. I expect to have mastered Game Development skills especially behavioral scripting which is what I enjoy doing the most, consequently being able to troubleshoot easily and spend less time in development. I also expect to be a better leader having served as a Clan lead of a most exemplary team.

Ashwill Phillips (South Africa, M): I joined the Bootcamp with the intent to learn a new skill. It’s my 1st time working with C# and Unity. Gaming Development is new to me, but I’m very much interested. I enjoy developing games and working through the exercises, solving problems and bugs. I expect to get an Internship with Maliyo Games and build a Game Development Career.

Robert Makuta (Rwanda, M): I’ve joined the Bootcamp to boost my knowledge and to gain new skills. I want to start a new career in game development. I’m enjoying the instructor and the challenges which allow me to better understand new concepts from the topic learned. I’m expecting to become a game developer, I hope to be skilled enough so that I can write code to translate what is in my mind into real games, and finally, I hope to be part of the Maliyo Games Team as a valuable contributor.

Bakare Adeleke (Nigeria, M): Some of the reasons why I joined this Bootcamp is because I want to advance my career. I started my Software Engineering career a few months ago. But I always like to challenge myself by doing hard things because I want to live a life of impact. Game design generates tangible results in which your work produces products that you can see and interact with. Besides being able to play your game yourself, you can also experience how consumers and game enthusiasts enjoy your product upon release. For some professionals, this can be an appealing opportunity, as it makes it easier to see the appreciable results of the work you have done.

When a course is designed so that the learning goals align with activities and assessments, it can help students develop conceptual awareness, learn to synthesize ideas, and begin constructing their knowledge. Their objectives are clear, and students are able to discuss ideas among their peers (clan). The system of peer learning is one of the most interesting parts of the program and also the educational and motivational events organized by Maliyo, all make it top-notch training.

My expectation by the end of the Bootcamp is that I would have honed enough skills to be a game developer and be able to use this medium to secure a job with the gained skills so as to keep on momentum. The game design always occupies much space and higher versions of the operating systems are always advisable for smooth running.

Remilekun (Nigeria, F): I love tech and everything related to it. Since I started learning in 2020, I have never shied away from new challenges. I was looking out for new learning experiences while waiting for a job opening when I stumbled upon the Bootcamp. Immediately, I saw it as an opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and build new capacities. I relish this opportunity and I would love to make the most of it.

So far, I’m enjoying the whole experience of becoming a game developer. It is thrilling and exciting at the same time. I would never have thought I could create simple games. I particularly love the Creative Tuesday session and the Special Guest Session. They make me challenge myself and realize that I could create a platform for myself in game development.

At the end of the Bootcamp, I hope to get internship opportunities in a Game hub. I would love to meet a lot of amazing minds in this field with the hope to continue learning from the best. I would also continue to improve my profile as a Game developer in addition to being a software developer.

Hugo Obi: So the way that we manage this program from the back-end is at looking mostly at data. We can’t look at the person-by-person level, just because there are too many people, and we have a very small team. So we rely on the data.  Then we ask ourselves, what does this data say?  Based on that, we make some calculated decisions.

GIA: You’ve mentioned your small team. Is that something that you also want to look into going forward, as the GameUp platform keeps on growing and more aspiring game developers keep on getting on board?

Hugo Obi: We’ll have to wait and see. I think the way we’ve designed this is to function optimally with a small team.  Last year, for instance, we had a team of three running the program. This year, we’ve grown the team to five. We’re thinking about how we can grow optimally.

GIA: You mentioned the studio and something else came to mind. How are you balancing doing the studio work as well as GameUp Africa

Hugo Obi: Well, I’m a magician [laughs]!  As I said, the way we’ve designed it is to be data-driven, systematic, and autonomous with a small support team. We have structures, processes, and systems in place, both on the studio side and the GameUp Africa side. This is meant to make decision-making a lot easier.  So think about this, like a self-driving car, where people know what to do when they get to a point within the program. As long as people are able to make decisions, then I’m free to work on other things.

GameUp Africa is running a game jam between October 4th to October 11th to give their community of young developers an opportunity to test the skills they’ve learnt thus far. Experienced local developers looking to pair up with the emerging new talents to build something cool in seven days can sign up via this link.

Learn more about GameUp Africa Bootcamp here: