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Mobile game maker waives access fees in bid to promote social distancing

by biasharadigest
Technology

Mobile game maker waives access fees in bid to promote social distancing

Usiku Games CEO co-founder Jay Shapiro
Usiku Games CEO and co-founder Jay Shapiro. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Mobile app gamers can now access locally developed products after a local firm, Usiku Games, waived access fees charged on anyone accessing its platform.

Chief executive Jay Shapiro said anyone with access to the internet via a smartphone can access their products for free in an ongoing campaign aimed at growing its clientele to over one million.

“Kenyan mobile app gamers will not pay the usual Sh10 to access the games as we decided to offer the games free as a way of promoting social distancing until further notice,” said CEO Shapiro.

Mr Shapiro said they opened up their content to introduce schoolchildren to their products that largely concentrates on Kenyan themes that uplift morale as well as promote learning.

“We know that many families are going to be stuck indoors for a while, with children home from school and offices closed. That will almost certainly lead to boredom and anxiety. Our Made-in-Kenya games have all been designed to entertain via our smartphones” he said.

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The free offer deal allows one access to three games in a day that largely promote non-violent content that celebrates different Kenyan cultures.

Usiku’s platform also uses Kiswahili language as a way of encouraging users to interact with the language thereby understanding it more for academic purposes.

With increased mobile phone craze among schoolchildren, availability of locally developed mobile app games creates a new revenue stream for game developers, a nascient industry worth billions of shillings in other markets.

“We have created a safe environment that parents can feel comfortable sharing with their families. The games are non-violent and gender inclusive, where local heroes in local environments are used. We have designed our entire #GamingForGood as a counter-balance to the testosterone-driven sports betting industry,” said Mr Shapiro.

Among the games on offer include ‘Jam Noma’ where players struggle to drive their matatus through Nairobi’s traffic gridlocks, ‘Okoa Simba’, where players play an animal match game while ‘Mama Mboga’ has players slicing fruits and vegetables before the fall.

The fourth game, ‘Age of Asante’, sees users match tiles before moving to the next level and Maasai Mkali-Mario and Luigi’s Maasai cousin, a 2D platformer game pitting a Maasai warrior up against the crows, red bulls and witch doctors where a user gathers as many cattle as you can.

The company now employs 20 people local rappers, songwriters for the soundtracks, character designers and animators, content writers, digital marketers as well as programmers.

Gaming companies have in the past lamented over lack of gaming schools that will train workers for the fast rising industry.

But a major impediment remains the parental perception that mobile app games are dangerous and introduce their children to harmful ways and products.

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