There is no doubt that his background in Computer Science from the Afe Babalola University has contributed in no small way to the advancement Obinna Akpen is making in game development. He recently told the GAMING WEEK team that although he is a multi-award winning competitive e-sport player, he thinks of himself more as a game developer, who is doing great things with the Unity game engine. Currently, he works at KobGames Studios Lagos. He uses this platform to vent his
passion about coding and game development and solving the challenges that come from them
Was it passion that drove you to game development?
It is definitely a question because I’ve been playing games since I was a kid. And I’ve always wanted to be a game developer from my primary or secondary level. I never said I wanted to be a doctor, or any of that sort.
Two years ago, people used to say there were no game developers. Would you say that has changed today?
Yeah, definitely. That’s changed. Two years ago, I’ll be part of the people that said there were no game developers in Nigeria and Africa as a whole until I met Oscar, who is the owner of Africacomicade. So I found out that the industry is quite big. There are game developers in Nigeria and Africa.
Okay, when you say the industry is quite big, I mean, what size are we looking at?
We have more than 500,000 developers across Africa.
If you want to slim it down to Nigeria, can you give a guess?
A rough guess will be like a 100+.
What do you think was responsible for the earlier thought that there is a dearth of game developers in Nigeria?
There was zero or no presence in the gaming industry. Even when I was going into game development and when I started my career as an esports player, I didn’t really have exposure to players or developers in Nigeria. I was mostly online, where I have made most of my money and where I’m working right now.
So it was more about poor communication, publicity and marketing?
Does that still exist today?
It still exists but is gradually fading.
What are the other challenges you encountered?
I would say the biggest challenge would be knowledge because I’m self-taught. I didn’t go to school. I did everything myself from the ground up with YouTube and any other source I could find online.
How were you able to surmount these challenges?
I have loved games since I was a kid but when I knew I wanted to build a career out of it was around 2014. The first competition I entered was organised by world of gaming. So I started from there. Obviously, I had Nigerian parents who were not really happy about my gaming interests till I brought back my first win. They were really happy about it and pushed me up from there. Then gradually I started making more impacts from ESL (electronic sports league) and the rest. Then one day a friend of mine approached me that they have a gaming tournament in Nigeria and I was so surprised because, at that point I never knew we had such in Nigeria. . So they invited me to Tech Plus which was my first ever tournament which I won. That was in 2016. The next year I came back and won the same tournament. From there I went to Jumia, and I won. That has been my journey in eSports.
How many games have you developed so far?
More than 10
All around eSports?
No, they are general.
What’s your overview of the gaming industry?
Progressive. We are pushing forward; let the world see us and know that we are more than they think we are, and we can achieve more.