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Tshimologong to launch video game incubation hub in SA

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Lesley Donna Williams, CEO of the Tshimologong Precinct.
Lesley Donna Williams, CEO of the Tshimologong Precinct.

Wits University’s Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct will on Friday launch a video gaming incubator for the vibrant African gaming development community.

In a statement, Tshimologong says South Africa has the fastest-growing gaming industry in Africa and the country’s most innovative gaming start-ups are focusing on profiting from the industry boom.

The Tshimologong Incubation Hub will target mid-level to experienced game developers and support them in developing either their new or existing video games.

The priority is to overcome the barriers of entry for black start-ups by assisting them in developing a more economically sustainable industry and providing access to the market.

Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct CEO Lesley Donna Williams says: “The video game industry has seen a high growth globally in recent years, but South Africa has not yet benefited significantly from this opportunity.

“The research that Tshimologong Precinct has conducted over the past year has, however, provided a clear indication of how all the relevant actors can make their contribution to making the system work for existing and emergent talent in our country.

"The launch of the gaming incubation programme is the first key action from the research to growing SME studios in demonstrating the way forward from our partners Telkom, AFD, IFAS and Wits University. This emergent sector is expected to contribute to economic growth and add our unique voice to the global industry.”

Tshimologong says the incubation programme, which will run for nine months, will provide customised support and a series of workshops focusing on business fundamentals, entrepreneurship and developing industry-related soft skills.

It adds that partners such as Telkom have over the years dedicated resources and time to empower and provide growth platforms for dynamic gaming innovators across South Africa.

Telkom executive for enterprise and supplier development Mathebe Zvobwo says: “Telkom FutureMakers is proud to be part of this gaming incubator launch, as it offers youth an avenue to launch businesses in gaming that have both a local and global audience and customer base.

“The incubator offers gaming entrepreneurs holistic support and increases their chances of launching high growth enterprises that create employment. We look forward to integrating the incubated enterprises into our commercial value chain.”

As the local game industry continues to grow in revenue and audiences, organisations such as Agence Française de Development (AFD) are directing focus towards empowering gaming creators and innovators to build a commercially viable local gaming industry.

AFD head of Southern African operations Audrey Rojkoff says: “AFD is very proud to be associated with the gaming incubator at Tshimologong.

“The gaming industry is really booming on the continent, and it has the potential of being an important vector of economic development in South Africa. Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct is an ideal partner for AFD, as we share a common vision of developing world-class digital content with an African aesthetic.”

Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct has partnered with ITTHYNK to roll out the incubation programme.

The company, which specialises in developing and commercialising African gaming intellectual property, will provide technical support to the start-ups through trainers, mentors and strategic partners.

According to Tshimologong, the incubation hub boasts some of South Africa's most diverse and dynamic gaming talent.

It notes the first SME to benefit from this programme are winners from the gaming hackathon that took place during the 2021 Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival. The winners are:

● Atrybute Graphics, a group of nine game design, engineering and art graduates who deliver different kinds of gaming products, such as 2D games, 3D games, gamification, prototypes, game assets and animations.

●Skinnyboy, a future-based tech development company founded by Thabile Maganyane, a programmer/coder and creative developer. Its main goal is to create games and educate upcoming prospects about the worlds of video game development, animation, multimedia and 4IR technologies.

●Southgame Studio, a female-led gaming company co-founded by three young women: Avuzwa Ntshongana, Nkateko Nompumelelo Kubayi and Tenyeko Mosikili. Their expertise is in the creation of video games and they also offer services to third-parties, such as web development and animation.

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