16 June 2018 saw me enter the very familiar, and always welcoming green and white Goethe-Institut front hall, in Johannesburg. The Goethe-Institut opened its doors to host their new Gamebox facility and showcase local Independent Game Developers who were tasked with designing a soccer game, in light of the FIFA World Cup currently hosted by Russia.
Goethe’s Gamebox provides an ideal environment to both try new digital games and get to know existing games. They will have on display a list of curated games from sub-Saharan Africa and Germany, that is permanently available. There is set to also be a “special emphasis placed on the presentation of games by independent game developers and gaming start-ups.”
The event began the weekend before, where six teams of independent game developers got together for a game jam, with the challenge of developing a soccer game. The only real limitation was not to create another FIFA or PES but something unique and different – in 40 hours. While many game jams are done as both a learning experience and fun activity for indie game devs, this time Goethe was offering a cash prize for the top 3 games.
I was given the honour of being on the panel of judges alongside Walter Ellis (Solo game developer and Curator, Gamebox at Goethe-Institut Joburg), Adoné Kitching (Project Manager at Serious About Games), and Stephan C Calitz (Head of School: Animation Arts at The Open Window). The games on review were:
1) FuBall 0.2
A VR game where players use the Throw-In technique to throw a ball into speakers.
2) Footy Kiro (Kirsty and Rohun)
A two player game merging between pong and foosball.
3) Nura’s Story (Bahiyya Khan)
A narrative text-based game based on the FIFA World Cup 2010.
4) Ketchup (Lwazi Drenzik)
A soccer game where the ball drops & need to use various body parts to keep the ball in the air.
5) Soccer Buster (Steven Tu)
A side-scroller type game where players throw soccer balls at alien space ships.
6) Mow (Orange Fire)
A game dedicated to the unseen/unrecognized people who need to mow the lawn before the FIFA World Cup. Players must mow the lawn, with further additions to add obstacles.
All the games definitely carried sparks of creativity and ingenuity when it came to applying the soccer World Cup theme during their game-jam.
Following the judging, myself, Stephan, and Adoné (who sadly could not make it, but Walter stepped in to represent), gave feedback on the games. The judging criteria was based on: Concept, Presentation, UX Design, Technical Aspects, and Theme Compliance.
The final winners were as follows:
- FuBall 0.2 (Jared Brandjes, Sean Viljoen, Paulo Vilela, Bennet Rumboll) – R10,000 Cash Prize
- Footy Kiro (Kirsty and Rohun) – R3,500 Cash Prize
- Nura’s Story (Bahiyya Khan) – R1,500 Cash Prize
It was a real pleasure and honour not only to be a judge at the event, but also indulging in the experience of the Goethe Gamebox, and its continuous effort to bring more focus on independent game development in South Africa. The event also treated us to various family-fun soccer-based table-top games, a freestyle soccer group (who will appear in the future Augmented Reality game built at the Goethe, as well as various and deeply informative talks about the indie development industry.
Goethe-Institut is the Federal Republic of Germany’s cultural institute, active worldwide. Promote the study of German abroad & encourage international cultural exchange.