Africacomicade is an organisation committed to building awareness about the comic and game development industry in Africa and offering opportunities for young creatives to learn about game development and access jobs, mentorships and investors.
In this week’s creator spotlight, we speak to the co-founder of Africacomicade, Oscar Michael, as he talks about how Africacomicade started, their upcoming Gamathon, and exciting things to look forward to from them soon.
R: What’s the meaning of the word ‘Africacomicade’? How did you come up with it?
M: “So we coined the word ‘Africacomicade’ from three words. Obviously, the first is ‘Africa’ because what we’re doing is pan-African and not just for Nigeria. The second word is ‘comic’, which brings out the fun side of what we’re trying to achieve. I feel like this work lets people know we also represent the comic industry. The last one is ‘arcade’. An arcade is a place that contains different types of games people can play. The idea behind using this is to let people know that we’re also not just limited to comics, but we also focus on games, animation, and XR. So there you have it, Africacomicade”.
R: That’s very clever! I’ve researched a bit on Africacomicade, and I really like what you’re trying to achieve. Why did you decide to create Africacomicade?
M: “This is quite simple. I joined the games industry in 2015 as a games facilitator, and I used to organise workshops and programs to teach people how to code games. From 2015 to 2017, I kept thinking, what’s next for me? Back then, people would ask if there are opportunities for children or teens to learn how to build games and be mentored. There weren’t really opportunities for this back then, and even the few studios we knew were closing up. That’s when it occurred to me that there was barely an industry, so I knew we needed to build one. This is why we banded together to form Africacomicade. We wanted to form an organisation that promotes the industry as a whole, where people could come for learning, job opportunities, mentorship programmes, and so on. We also needed to ensure this industry is sustainable so it can grow.
R: That’s a great founding story. I’m always excited to hear about people creating opportunities where there are none. So tell me about the Africacomicade team. You must have a fantastic team that helps you pull this off.
M: “I actually have a very amazing team. To start with, our team is distributed across Africa. We have three registered Africacomicade co-founders, who are all Nigerians, but we also have team members from other countries like Kenya, Mali, Tanzania, and others. At the start, we reached out to many people who are very active in the creative industry, are young and want to see it grow. We then built our team out of this pool. Some people have left, and some have joined along the way, but I’m happy our present team has been with us for over 3 years. It’s been tough for our team members because they are all full-time professionals who are volunteering their time to Africacomicade, and this is definitely a commitment I’m grateful for”.
R: It’s very interesting to hear you have team members all over Africa. That must be very important to you, especially since your target market is Africa and not just Nigeria. What’s your upcoming Gamathon event all about? And what new things are you planning to implement or improve on compared to last year’s event?
M: “The Africacomicade Gamathon is that one convention that we have annually, to bring together all the creatives that we have access to, to showcase their work and collaborate with one another, connect with stakeholders from within and outside Africa, and find opportunities to discover room for collaboration, funding, learning and the likes. Before the Gamathon, we had some events we occasionally held to bring people on board and just engage with our community. But the Gamathon is one opportunity to bring your finest work, showcase it, give talks and presentations, book meetings with publishers and investors, enter a pitch competition, and build a game with fellow creatives across Africa.
In the games industry, for instance, there aren’t many opportunities that really highlight this industry in Africa. When people talk about tech, nobody talks about the games industry. We’re trying to bridge that gap and make stakeholders understand what this industry is all about. The games industry presently only contains people who build games, but the industry doesn’t grow that way. You need people from marketing, finance, media and so on. That’s what forms an industry, and we’re trying to build that with the Gamathon.
One thing that will be changing about the Gamathon is that this year, for our jam (which is a competition where people get to work with other people to build a game ), it’s very important that you collaborate with someone outside your country to build a project before submitting it. We’re making this compulsory. We’re also trying to involve newbies and students more. Before the main event, there will be some training for them to learn how to build games and other skills.
Another thing we’re changing this year is the ticketing. When we started the Gamathon, it was all free. But this year, we’re asking people to give a little to support the big pool we use to run this event through purchasing tickets. These are three things we’re really switching up this year.
R: This all sounds so exciting! We can’t wait to be a part of this year’s Gamathon. We would love to hear about the workshops you host. What’s it like getting the right creators to host these workshops?
M: “It’s been a learning process that I’m very grateful for, and this is really where the diversity comes in. I’m blessed to have professionals who are in Kenya, Tanzania and so on, so we usually curate speakers internally within our team. That way, we have a wider pool of people to reach out to. One new thing we’re doing this year is allowing creatives to reach out to us. The first day we announced this, we had already got some submissions, so that’s very exciting for us.
We also reach out to some speakers outside Nigeria, and we’ve gotten great responses from them. I have to give a shoutout to one of them, Trista. She’s from Finland and spoke at one of our events, the e-Africa challenge. That event was 4 AM in her timezone, so I’m very grateful to her for her commitment”.
R: Can you share a success story from your workshops or job fairs?
M: “The workshops have been so great that I’ve been shocked at some feedback I’ve gotten from attendees. Our workshops really focus on the business or pitching side of game development, so I think the biggest success story we’ve heard so far is from our work with Steam and Virago Game. We helped these developers get their game unto the Steam platform, and so far, they have over 1000 downloads selling at about $9. In fact, you should definitely check this game out because it’s about what the girl child goes through in society”.
R: Oh, nice! I’d definitely check it out. Apart from your upcoming Gamathon, what else should we look forward to from Africacomicade this year?
M: “We can’t say much for this year because a lot of work goes into putting together the Gamathon. Still, we’ll be having mini exhibitions all across Africa after the Gamathon is over. However, when this year’s work is wrapped up, we’ll be starting the Africacomicade Fellowship next year. This is a programme where applicants can learn how to build games, animation and XR for 9 months. This includes a 6-month training and a 3-month internship.
We’ll also be having our e-Africa challenge next year, where we’d encourage game creators to solve social issues with their games. We believe games can be much more than cartoons and shooting games, and you can use your art to solve the world's problems. Games can influence behaviour and educate people, so why won’t we use this creative power for good?”
R: We’ll be on the lookout for those fantastic events. How did you find out about Tix?
M: “I’m always scouting the internet. From time to time, I scout the internet to look for ways to make our processes and events better. So when I came across Tix and I did my research, I thought, why not? We’ve used other ticketing platforms but we’ve never used an African platform, so I was very excited about this.
I really love the Tix branding; it’s very youthful and creative. Looking through the Tix discovery page, I just kept thinking this is definitely somewhere I want my brand to be represented”.
R: Thank you! We always love to hear feedback like this. What’s your favourite Tix feature?
M: “My favourite Tix feature is definitely the discovery page. I love that you can discover many different events around you. I also love your social media page, particularly how you connect with your users and event guests”.
R: Thank you so much for speaking with me, Micheal. We wish you all the best, and we’re always rooting for you at Tix.