- Title: Cameroon gaming stars become business superheroes
- Date: 8th November 2018
- Summary: VARIOUS OF GAMER, IVAN NGOUNOU, PLAYING
- Embargoed: 22nd November 2018 14:08
- Keywords: video games aurion: legacy of the kori-odan digital start-up African mythology technology-focused business
- Location: YAOUNDE, CAMEROON AND UNKNOWN LOCATIONS
- City: YAOUNDE, CAMEROON AND UNKNOWN LOCATIONS
- Country: Cameroon
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment,Video Games
- Reuters ID: LVA00395NAVDJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Founded in 2013, Kiro'o Games has grown to become Central Africa's first major video games studio.
It draws on African mythology rather than Hollywood for inspiration, as in its fantasy role-playing game "Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan".
Kiro'o co-founder Dominique Yakan says most Africans don't yet realise the positive social and economic impact that the gaming industry can have.
"It's the biggest industry today, it's even bigger than cinema actually and we wanted to be part of it and to bring African culture into this industry, this world," Yakan told Reuters.
Aurion players agree.
"What I really like in the Aurion game is that we can see ourselves as Africans, whether it's the fashion or the fabric that the characters are wearing, it's not too Western. We usually can't relate with the characters in the Western games, but in this one, we recognise our style, even when it comes to the storytelling. They have also inserted local stories that only Africans would recognise," said Ivan Ngounou, an avid gamer.
Unlike neighbouring states, Cameroon has been relatively stable for decades but is blighted by poor infrastructure and lacks the vibrant start-up scenes found in countries like Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa.
Kiro'o Games - despite its unique selling point as an African company producing culturally relevant video games - struggled to raise money at the start.
The company has broken down barriers in education, with its game designers managing to acquire expertise despite a lack of specialised training in Cameroon.
"The greatest challenge we had to face was the financing of the studio to begin with, and we also had technical challenges like there are no specific studios for making games here in Cameroon, so we had to learn everything for ourselves," Yakan adds.
Through a combination of tactics including YouTube videos, a campaign on creative funding platform Kickstarter and tapping non-conventional backers like the Cameroonian diaspora, the group went on to raise 130 million francs ($227,000) from nearly 90 international investors.
Kiro'o founders have now set up an entrepreneurs' training programme that aims to share the company's pioneering approach, invigorate the country's business community, and combat unemployment.
It already runs an online educational platform called Rebuntu, which trains young Cameroonians in navigating obstacles they may face in real-life business.
Launched last June, around 1,000 people looking to set up technology-focused businesses have already signed up to the Rebuntu programme.
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