Having dreamed of creating video games since childhood, aged 14 Guillaume Madiba took the unusual step of immersing himself in literature, and started writing stories. According to the now founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Cameroon’s Kiro’o Games Studio, it was these literary efforts that made his childhood dream possible.
Madiba went on to study computer science at the University of Yaounde, and launched amateur – well-reviewed – games as he dabbled with teaching himself how to create video games. In 2008, together with friends, he launched computer services startup MADIA. Nonetheless, Madiba says it was his self-imposed literary study which really prepared him for game-developing.
“To realise the game Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan, I self-educated myself. First, I started writing. I have never been in a literature, letters or arts academy. But I started writing because since the age of 14, I dreamed of working in a video games studio,” Madiba told Disrupt Africa.
“Writing would then help me come up with a good scenario for my games. I therefore wrote articles and a book titled “Jour et Nuit”; this enabled me to learn how to write scenarios and dialogues,” he explains.
Madiba went on to found the Kiro’o Games Studio – achieving the childhood dream, but realising in the process that Kiro’o and Cameroon have an important role to play in the development of Africa’s gaming industry.
According to Madiba, the intention behind Kiro’o has expanded, and he hopes to change the perception of Africans as only consumers, and show the creative power of Africa’s gaming industry.
“Cameroon has an important role to play in the video game industry in general and that of Africa in particular,” Madiba said.
“The desire to contribute to this industry’s emergence in Africa has motivated us to develop Kiro’o Games. One of our goals is to show that we are not just refined consumers. We can also meet our own needs especially by creating games in which Africans can identify themselves,” he said.
The CEO says the gaming industry in Africa is currently missing a huge opportunity, as existing game developers confine their work largely to mobile games.
“The platforms that we have targeted – namely PC and XBOX360 – will enable to boost the African video game industry. Till today, studios operating on the continent are mostly specialized in mobile games and games for tablets. Yet, PC and console games are very profitable markets,” Madiba said, adding that the global market numbers over 10 million players, although most intensively congregating in Europe and the USA.
“With the game Aurion, Africa is embarking on this large market and hopes that other African studios will be interested; of course, after the success we achieve. The more African studios will target markets such as PCs or consoles, the more the industry will grow on the continent,” Madiba said.
Madiba’s confidence appears justified, as initial efforts to seek investment have seen the startup raise US$142,000 just 10 months after launching, and without having released a game.
The startup is looking for further funding, with Madiba saying he hopes African investors will also step up to the project.
“The project is mostly funded by capital from abroad, with individual investors, Canadian, French companies, etc. who have caught the vision and profitability of Kiro’o,” he said.
“However, for the symbolism of the project, it would be good that African businessmen do not miss this windfall.”