Let Oscar Micheal tell you what the Nigerian games industry is all about

When you meet Oscar Michael, the first thing it will tell you about the gaming industry is that it is different from the video game industry. The second thing will most likely be that the Nigerian gaming industry needs funding.

The Technological Beginnings of Oscar Michael

He didn’t start his career trying to create a community of game developers, engineers, etc. He, like many others in the gaming industry, started as a technical brother.

He fell into the industry looking for a job, and since then he got hooked and started Africacomicade, a community of game developers, animators and other digital creatives.

“I’ve been in the industry since 2015,” he said in an interview with Technext.

He says he started with an internship in Lagos.

I got in touch with an organization that was really at the forefront of the games industry in Nigeria. And they were training children and young people to create mobile games. So I started as a mobile game animator, teaching kids how to create mobile games.

Oscar Michael

In this role, he was also to “organize game jams, where game developers in Nigeria come together to spend the night for two to three days to create a game around one thing. And from there, I became the COO and started hosting hackathon events, co-hosting with other industry partners to bring people together.

With Africacomicade, a pan-African community that spans 15 African countries, he said it was about supporting and running projects for members.

“What we do is showcase their work, as well as connect people with opportunities,” he said.

But the community, which is not known for its pre-seed tours, at least in Nigeria, hasn’t offered many opportunities for people looking for a career in space. He said this has led to some talented developers leaving the games space for greener pastures in other areas of technology.

The games industry is one of the most creative and challenging spaces in technology. There are not so many opportunities for stakeholders in this sector. So a lot of creatives there have started moving into other viable sectors like app development, web development because there are job opportunities there.

Oscar Michael

Oscar Micheal, founding member of Africacomicade. Image source: Africacomicade

But, even for developers who stay and break even in the space, they face the challenge of how to monetize their projects after the time spent developing them.

“It’s hard to make a game that people are going to love, and then monetizing it is a different hurdle on its own,” he said. “The startups that appear don’t employ people. There is no funding. No support. So it’s hard. »

He fell victim to this difficulty, which forced him to take a break from the industry for a year.

At the time, he was pursuing a degree in software entrepreneurship. He met with developers and investors from different countries and saw the opportunities that could be unlocked in the Nigerian games industry and then he came back.

“That’s where it all started for me,” he said of starting the community.

“I moved to Ghana. I started connecting with stakeholders and talking to stakeholders across the continent. So I realized that our problems are similar and if we can really work together, we will have a better chance of solving the problem. Since there is no industry data, there is no structure in the industry and there are very few opportunities,” he said.

He decided to start Africacomicade after thinking about how he would tackle an issue that was happening across the continent, hoping that like-minded people in the space would come together to achieve their mutual goals.

He said with the community that he was “trying to connect stakeholders in Africa, learn more, see the work being done, get the data they need to make decisions and support growth. Of the industry”.

Gaming Industry VS Gaming Industry

But the confusion between “gaming industry” and “gaming industry” doesn’t help.

The gaming industry is an ecosystem of esports enthusiasts who play games. In contrast, the gaming industry is about people who develop games.

But the game industry is still far behind the game industry, largely because of the game communities in Africa like Gamr Africa, Kon10dr, etc., which have succeeded in building the game industry to the point where it can attract investors who sponsor tournaments and matches. .

For the community to grow, he said there must be an influx of funding, thriving communities and awareness. “Many investors will only invest in a sports organization that has a large following.” What the gaming industry doesn’t really have.

How the gaming industry feeds itself

The industry has relied on publishers. Publishers are people who have a form of bridge between the gaming industry and the gaming industry. They have a database of people who play games. Then they pay developers to make games, and then they share the games with their network of gamers to play.

“How often do you go to the app and search for games?” he asks. “You got the idea.”

Let Oscar Micheal tell you what the Nigerian games industry is all about
Africacomicade actively trains young game developers. Image source: Africacomicade

With publishers, he said that “in a week or two, you can have 100,000 to 1 million downloads. Instead of doing it yourself and you have to find many strategies.

Next, gaming companies should hold tournaments for their players and people who beat high scores to entice people to keep playing. “Organizing wonderful tournaments requires a lot of money,” he said.

To solve this problem, he said people must first understand the industry.

People need information, people need to know it’s a viable industry. And that there are just a few key things you need to have in place to be successful.

Oscar Michael

The importance of community

Outside of Africa, the community has grown faster due to the availability of consoles. In Africa, there are not as many consoles to support video games, Oscar believes. Thus, developers have been limited to most mobile games.

“The African market is mobile-friendly,” he said.

Oscar Michael says problems can’t be solved without a community.

He said that by creating a community he was trying to create “a form of structure where if you need to access information or anything, you can go to this place where you can connect to opportunities”.

He said that to be successful in the space, “you really have to try a lot of things and you can’t get the information you need alone or in the marketplace. There are many opportunities, but you get there by knowing the people. »

Even though africacomicade only has about 500 members, Oscar said that at Africacomicade they don’t care about numbers.

“We are not big on numbers. What we care about is having creators building stuff. There are many communities with 1000, 2000 members, but how many are active?

“We are 500 strong and growing. One thing I can say is that in our community we have active stakeholders. We have at least over 30 people projects within our community. And we normally have a convention where we try to present these projects.

While there is still so much growth to be achieved before Oscar achieves his goal of working with community members to make the sector more visible to investors and the rest of the tech world, he has eyes focused on the little things that will help him. facilitate the kind of outreach he wants for the sector.

For example, it is laying the groundwork to create a system to educate young people about the opportunities in the sector.

He also works with space researchers to produce studies that he says “have come up with some really exciting projects.” There is for example “The Legend of Orisha”, a game of the members of the community which he is very enthusiastic about.

Let Oscar Micheal tell you what the Nigerian games industry is all about
Promotional image for Legends of Orisha, a community game. Photo source: Africacomicade

Who needs regulations?

As the tech world and government clash over what regulations will look like, he said it may be too early to regulate the games industry.

“I think it’s too early for regulation. The creators of this space don’t make money, so what is there to regulate? What he said is needed for now is nothing but support.

We need support to build a structure.

How does the community meanwhile navigate copyright laws and other forms of intellectual property infringement?

“Because it’s about the creative industry,” he said, “if you look at copyright laws, there are a lot of laws in place. All you need is a lawyer.

Furthermore, he adds that in the gaming industry, cloning is part of the business. Endless runners, for example, have been very successful. But the stories around which the games are built are different.

“People are reverse engineering. So how can you really say it’s my game? That’s what it’s about. It’s about looking out there and being creative. It’s not something you can fully hang on to and say “you can’t make my art”.

For people who want to join the space, he remains direct and honest.

Let Oscar Micheal tell you what the Nigerian games industry is all about
Africacomicade organizes events for members of its community. Image source: Africacomicade

“The truth is there are so many opportunities here. But I’ll be honest it’s quite hard to pull it off. Game studios across Africa are growing and there’s no recruitment frenzy like when you learn javascript. In Africa, to find a job, it’s like 100 studios spread across the continent,” he said. “Joining a community. It can help you grow.

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