What's going on in South Africa? Indie developer Oliver Snyders answers that question in this comprehensive feature
which examines the last decade of game development in the country, complete with interviews.
Snyders puts it like this, in the intro: "With a handful of development studios making false starts over the years, and a passionate, if thinned out, development community, South Africans are working at laying the foundation for a vibrant local industry in the years to come."
In truth, the feature paints a difficult picture: the scene struggles with a lack of exposure, lack of trained professionals, poor internet infrastructure, and a talent exodus to North America. Still, the development scene is still forging ahead.
The piece examines the output of South African studios past and present, including Celestial/Twilyt, I-Imagine, and Luma, while also speaking to South African expats who work at Naughty Dog and Digital Extremes.
While it doesn't paint a rosy picture of the scene, it does offer an unflinching look at what's clearly been a rocky road. More importantly, it's clear that the developers working in South Africa are determined to find success.
Says Damien Classen, programmer at Digital Extremes, "Any creative industry in SA, be it film, music or games seems to suffer from the country's geographic isolation from the rest of the world, which is why I think people in these industries often feel the need to migrate in order to achieve the kind of success they want."
Meanwhile, Daniel Day, founder of SA developer Quarter Circle Forward Design says, "We're sorely lacking talent. This is something that will come with time as we raise awareness of game development as an industry. While programming is the traditional route to games, games aren't built by coders alone. We need a lot more artists and resource generators as well as business-related people."
Luke Lamothe, a Canadian ex-pat working in South Africa, offers this: "In order for true growth to happen, there needs to be massive job creation and long term stability offered so that more people will look at game development in South Africa as a realistic career choice."
The full feature, The South African Game Development Scene: Past, Present, and Future
, is live today on Gamasutra.