Introducing ‘Serious Gaming’ in Kenya, Jump on the bandwagon!

By Gladys Kitony
iHub
  Published 13 Jul 2016
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Using games to educate and teach is a long standing tradition in Africa. Think of the famous and, probably, the oldest “Mancala” game- also known as ‘the sowing game’-used to teach agriculture and problem solving. Games form an integral part of African tradition.

Kenya boasts a rich and vibrant technology scene and an entrepreneurship ecosystem that has in recent years received worldwide attention for churning out ingenious innovations. Despite this, serious gaming is still nascent and untapped, as is the case globally.

Combining our rich gaming tradition with the booming technology ecosystem has potentially far-reaching effects.

Various partners have come together to provide pro-bono training, mentorship and other support to aspiring game developers with a goal of helping them develop serious gaming business ventures that tackle real life urban water issues.

Details to follow.

What is a Serious Game?

A Serious game is one which uses concepts and technologies derived from computer entertainment games for non-entertainment purposes such as research, policy, decision-making, training and learning. Serious games often combines analogue techniques (pen and paper) and social interaction with state of the art game and simulation technologies (immersive 3D virtual game worlds).

The Chezo Serious Gaming Hub

Realising the untapped potential of serious gaming locally has inspired the formation of a consortium bringing together key subject matter experts to start the first gaming hub dubbed ‘The Chezo Serious Gaming Hub’. The hub will be backed by VIA Water. The consortium brings together experienced serious gaming experts from the Netherlands and innovative Kenyan ICT partners who have established networks and have experience in technology and water sectors. This consortium comprises iHub, Upande, Deltares , FloodCom and The Barn.

The Chezo Serious Gaming Hub seeks to seed an industry of serious gaming in Kenya, focussing particularly on urban water related issues. This first initiative of its kind in Kenya will inspire, train and incubate local entrepreneurs to help launch new business ventures ready to tackle real life, urban water issues in new and compelling ways. Training materials developed will be freely available after the project in order to continue to inspire others beyond the project’s lifespan.

The practice of developing and using serious gaming in water related subjects has been proven successful throughout its multiple uses in the past. Some successful examples of current water related games are Levee Patroller, Aqua Republica, the Flood Control game and the Sustainable Delta Game.

Execution Plan

This initiative will unfold in two main phases:

Phase 1: Comprises serious gaming start-up workshops that will culminate with a game jam to select winners to proceed to the second stage.

Phase 2: Finalists of the first phase will receive additional support from consortium partners to further develop and launch their innovations (Go-to-Market). This collaborative stage will take up to 4 months and support will be mostly virtual.

Award

The game jam will culminate with the selection of three winning teams who will receive further mentorship and other support from consortium partners.  A cash grant of up to € 2.000 will also be awarded to the most promising teams.

How to take part:

  1. As an industry expert

We invite industry players, especially in water and related sectors to help us realise this project by taking part in a kick off workshop on the 2nd of August 2016 from 9am – 12pm.

During this workshop, the consortium will explain the platform they are looking to seed to several key movers and shakers in the water sector. The intended outcome of the kick off is to identify the key topics and challenges to be presented to the subsequent start-up workshops that will be held later in the same week. The start-up workshop will be attended by entrepreneurs and (aspiring) game and software developers, whom we would like to challenge with the pressing topics defined in the kick off workshop.

We would greatly value the continued engagement of industry players in the subsequent months as several teams take each other on in a challenge to get their serious game concept and prototype awarded with a prize that will help them develop the full serious game addressing challenges in the water sector. To sign up as an industry expert please send an email to [email protected]

  1. As a participant

We will select up to 60 people to participate in this program that culminates in a competition (Game Jam).

We invite those ardent about technology and/or gaming or are in WASH fields to apply.

The workshop plan is as follows:

Date

Event

Notes

Group/Session 1: Wed 3rdAug 2016 2pm - 7:30pm

Group/Session 2: Thur 4th Aug 2016 2pm - 7:30pm

(Participants toattend only one of the above sessions)

Serious gaming start-up workshop

The workshop aims to initiate learning about serious gaming and for participants to have a go at designing games in a safe, practice environment.

Group/Session 1: Tue 9th Aug 2016 2pm - 7:30pm

Group/Session 2: Wed 10th Aug 2016 2pm - 7:30pm

(Participants toattend only one of the above sessions)

Train-the-trainers

The goal is to train participants and have them leave the workshop knowing the basic skills needed to facilitate serious games in their own sessions later on.

To be Confirmed

Game jam Competition

Participants will work in teams to compete in developing serious games that address(urban) water issues. The three best teams will receive cash prizes and an opportunity to develop their innovations to market.

Venue: iHub

If you are interested in participating in this initiative, please sign up here: http://goo.gl/forms/WXP01JpZWhJOzdKU2

Should you have any questions about this project, feel free toreach out to the project facilitators:Gladys Kitony: [email protected] or Mark de Blois: [email protected]

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(Image source: http://www.floodcom.nl)

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