The Star (Nairobi)

1 March 2014

Kenya: The Next Generation of Nairobi Based Video Games

opinion

For many years, video game players could only shop for the gadgets in shopping malls like Sarit Centre, and a few others. In the recent years however, play stations stopped being a reserve for kids after adults started demanding for the product. The wider customer base has been occasioned by creation of new distribution channels by companies such as Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Xbox and Sony Playstation to ensure play stations get into Nairobi homes.

Games are a common feature in most technologically advanced mobile phones. To satisfy the growing demand, most mobile phone companies have responded by manufacturing billions of such phones. On the other hand, game lovers continue to download their favourite games from the internet. The most common are Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja with Flappy Bird being the latest entrant in the market. Unfortunately, the creator of the game, a Vietnamese video game designer, deleted the game after raking in more than US$50,000 daily. As enterprising Kenyans watch the business in video game thrive, some are probably thinking of venturing into it and abandoning quails. This however remains to be seen.

Should Kenyans decide that they want to develop the next Flappy Bird game, they should incorporate local 'features' that Kenyans are familiar with for easy play. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Gridlock 2014

Players in this game include a voter, member of the county assembly (MCA), MP, senator, governor and president. The lowest level of the game starts with a voter, who has to fight his way up to become an MCA. The MCAs receive a certain amount of tokens called "money" allowing them to move up to another level. In the new level, they compete with their fellow MCAs to ensure the finest gets the highest token count and weakest is eliminated. Those who maintain the lead begin to eye the governors level.

As governors, the desire to collect more tokens increases. However, their biggest competitors in this level are senators, who fortunately or unfortunately have the mandate to summon governors to "question" them over the tokens collected so far. Note that the grilling process is occasioned by the senators' desire to also have an opportunity to collect as many tokens as possible for themselves. The governors are also very keen at this level because they fear MCAs, who can gang up against them and strip them off their current gains, which will bring them down to the lowest level.

The senators and governors will be hoping to go to the next level, the president. In this game, the president is the most powerful player but his reign only lasts for a short time before he is stripped off the powers. This is because the president concentrates more on collecting tokens than winning the game.

2. Poster Wars 2014

The next game that can do very well is the Poster Wars. In this game, the players move up several levels of a game and have to decide which poster means what. If they get their posters right, they progress to the next level. If for instance, they encounter a poster with a message like, "Blurred Lines" with half naked couple on the cover, they have to decide whether they want to knock on the door that leads to "heaven" or "hell". Those who gains access to hell get into the Nairobi's famous strip clubs, where they are given a hot night they will never forget. The few who decide to pick "heaven" find themselves getting into one of the new generational churches in Kenya and are only given sermons and prayers, much to their distress. The irony of this game is that those who pick "heaven" will actually move one level down.

The other level of the game will see players bombarded with two posters of politicians seeking political office; one offering "Peace, Love and Mobile money" and the other "Jobs for Youth." The former leads you up one level where, those in that level are highly influential as they can send money via their phones. Those who will slip one level down will be disappointed as the concept has not taken root in Kenya.

Venue review: Red Cube, Karen

Last weekend, a friend from Karen and his friend who were visiting wanted their car washed, so I ended up waiting for them at the Red Cube Pub & Restaurant while they had their car cleaned. The restaurant is within a petrol station. It does not look so inviting from outside as it only bears its logo at the entrance with a Coca-Cola signboard. I wasn't really expecting much from the place. However, when I stepped inside I was pleasantly surprised as the inside looked nothing like the outside. The restaurant and the bar are spacious just like the outer area. Customers have a choice to either occupy the outside space or the inner one. The bar is well-stocked and has brands of beers, such as Castle Lite and a wide assortment of whiskies that one would not easily find in other joints.

I was happy to see a big TV screen at the bar, where one can enjoy his drink as he watches a game, especially during the lazy weekends. There was however nothing interesting to watch at the time. I sank into one of the posh chairs outside and a waiter immediately came to take my order. I asked for my usual cold Tusker, which cost me paltry Sh180 to my pleasant surprise. I actually expected the price to be much higher bearing in mind the joint is in a posh area.

The punters in this place are mature male and female adults mostly in their 30s, 40s and 50s. As the bar is on the ground floor, our friends in their wheelchairs can easily gain access. I also noted the joint has wide doors that provide an easy escape in case of emergencies such as fire outbreak. As I was feeling a little hungry, I asked for the menu and ordered some chicken and salad, but to my disappointment, the food was not available. This meant I would have a meal at home and I had to stop drinking as I am not usually able to eat after a drinking spree.

The bathrooms were clean, had water and toilet paper - which is not something you always find in this town.

A quick recap of the venue:

Good: Clean toilets, easy access for physically challenged, cold beverages, great service, big TV screen for the sports enthusiasts and clear emergency exits.

Bad: Either they need to change their menu or ensure that the food on the menu is available.

My verdict: If you are in Karen, this is a lovely place to hang out as you wait for your car to be washed or to watch a game.

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