R1million has been awarded to Team Vukuzenzele who developed a serious digital game about informal settlement upgrading which will help communities. The Serious About Games initiative uses a new approach to address the challenges facing the Western Cape’s poorest residents.
The project is a collaboration between the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism, the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi), Interactive Entertainment South Africa (IESA), 67 Games, and the Cape Craft and Design Institute (CCDI).
Team Vukuzenzele comprises of game development company RenderHeads and pioneering community organisation Ikhayalami. The outcome was announced at the finals of the competition on 4 April.
Speaking at the competition final, Provincial Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde said it was exciting to see how digital games can become drivers of economic change.
“We need to make sure we play a role in driving the digital revolution.” He pointed out that initiatives like the Serious About Games competition and investment in the digital game development industry could help the Western Cape become a serious player in the $100 billion dollar global gaming sector.
“Through mechanisms like Serious About Games we are claiming our space in this new world economy. More importantly, we are harnessing the power of technology to help residents improve their lives.”
Of the 16 teams who entered the competition, four were chosen to develop a prototype and present their playable game to a judging panel made up of industry experts.
The winning team, Team Vukuzenzele, wowed the judges with their Android-based application that would allow communities to learn about the importance of re-blocking; a term that refers to the spatial reconfiguration of informal settlements to help them better withstand disasters, like fires.
The CCDI has played a pivotal role over the past six months led by our Design Process Facilitation team of Lisa Parkes and Joanne Sandler. Ideation workshops run by the CCDI with the partners and funders helped to strategise and conceptualise the competition brief, rules and approach.
As entering teams were challenged to design a game that addresses challenges using a user-centred design process, the CCDI took entrants through a design-led process as well as gave strategic input to the competition steering committee around design thinking process. This importantly included assistance with prototyping and user feedback sessions in local communities facilitated by the CCDI over the past six months.
Thereafter, the CCDI conducted individual business analyses with the four shortlisted entries to assist them in refining their pitches as part of the judging process.
Team Vukuzenzele thanks CCDI for valuable business analysis
“The experience with the CCDI was an informative and well-constructed analysis of an emerging business venture and greatly assisted Vukuzenzele with our presentation and upcoming endeavour.” – Andre Isaacs.
“I have more than 30 years business experience and run my own and did not think there was much I could learn in a meeting from a single person; but I was wrong – the session proved to be fundamentally helpful and I picked up lessons I will be incorporating into my current business models. Thank you Rosemary and the CCDI.” – Ben Nkuna.
“Rosemary was very helpful with regards to help us critically think about our vision, and separate it from our product. This has enabled us to distil it down to a core message, which will fundamentally strengthen our business case.” – Shane Marks.
Next steps in the game’s development
Going forward, with the funding from DEDAT, Team Vukuzenzele will be expanding their concept and setting up kiosks at two sites, before taking the game to other communities. Their next challenge will be raising money to put the lessons learned about re-blocking into practice in the real world, using the data collected from players.
Team Vukuzenzele have set up a website for the game – see here for more: http://vukuzenzelegame.co.za/