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Gaming rages on in SA

The rAge gaming expo this past weekend pointed the way to a booming computer games industry in South Africa, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the first of a two-part series. (All pics by Arthur Goldstuck)

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Predator. Omen. Alienware. They all sounds dangerous. The names suggest threat and even fear. And so they should. 

They are the high-end gaming brands of computer manufacturers Acer, HP and Dell, respectively. Acer adds an explosive edge with its Nitro range.

The names tell you that the user is not going into computer-based combat casually. This gamer wants to win, and will pay the price of premium hardware to do so.

This impulse lies at the heart of the exploding computer games industry globally. Valued at $157-billion, the sector dwarfs the music industry. In South Africa, according to Make Games South Africa chairperson Nick Hall, it is a R225-million business, growing at an average of 75% a year since 2013.

“The game development sector in South Africa has really gone from strength to strength, across all key segments in the sector,” he says. “Our indies are regularly releasing titles to global success, our services sector has made massive inroads into doing work for some of the largest  publishers in the world and our serious games sector is producing world leading products.”

Many of these independent games creators were manning stands at the rAge expo at the Dome north of Johannesburg this past weekend. Celestial Games, which produced South Africa’s first commercial computer game, Toxic Bunny, in 1996,  unveiled its latest innovation: a mobile gaming platform called Table Realms, which turns any handset into a gaming console or screen. 

The buzz around its stand was palpable, and a far cry from previous years when Celestial and other games developers battled for attention. At rAge, names like Curve, Codex Knights, Loot Defence, Nektaar, Akromah’s Tale, and Echoplex all had clusters of prospective players around their booths.

The Xbox stand was a major attraction at rAge.

Continue reading to find out how locally developed games target international markets.

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