Tsitsi Naphtal Chiumya

Game designer, founder of SHAPA studios

“One of my fondest memories as a kid was playing board games with my grandfather, as this was his way of keeping me off the streets. I also played arcade games at the tuckshop, which is where my interest developed for video games,” says Tsitsi Naphtal Chiumya, when talking about his childhood. “Growing up I always had to share game space with a lot of other kids and that shaped the way I perceived games. I always thought games bring people together, and I want to create those experiences that will cross cultures and bring all people of the world together.”

For Chiumya, studying game design was tough because of the kind of background he came from.

“I did not have the kind of consoles and experience that the other students had; all I had was a burning desire to learn. Most of the time I felt like an outsider because I did not know all the games that other players were playing. All the games I knew seemed too rural or too boring to mention in conversation,” he adds.

But when Chiumya got to play morabaraba in class, he realised that these games had similar patterns to what he was used to. “Learning to design modern games through games such as morabaraba showed me that most games have similar traits — they bring people together — and I wanted to make games that bring people together.”

In 2014 with the help of some friends, Chiumya created After Robot. Instead of using formulas from other games I incorporated real streets and real taxi prices into After Robot. I wanted to teach players about the taxi industry and wanted them to experience the taxi world how they perceived it. Most people choose to be violent and others play more peacefully; the game is a platform on which players can express their opinions on taxis and not adopt preconceived ideas.”

 After his studies, Chiumya started a company called SHAPA studios. He plans to turn After Robot into an app. He also currently works with a company which partners with Pearson to make educational games.

“I want to create a game studio that makes games that are made from a South African or African perspective. They will not necessarily be African games, but they will be made from our perspective. I will make all types of games in the studio board and digitally,” Chiumya says. “What I love about the industry here is that it is still developing in most areas, so there is more opportunity to be a young pioneer in a great and creative industry. ” — Tiana Cline

Twitter: @shapapie Facebook: facebook.com/tsitsi.chiumya Linkedin: za.linkedin.com/in/tsitsi-chiumya-6202a57