At the end of last month, the Egyptian Information Technology Institute (ITI) hosted the second annual Egypt Game Jam, hosting 315 young and energetic electronic game developers at the institute's HQ at Cairo’s Smart Village technological park.
The Egypt Game Jam is the local version of the global Game Jam brand, the world's largest event for young game developers. Developers gather in an action-filled atmosphere, to work for three days on electronic games with a certain theme revealed during the first day of the event. Developers exchange knowledge and experiences, while challenging themselves to make a complete new game within the specified time of the event.
This year's theme was ‘We don't see things as they are; we see them as we are’. Compared with the 28 new games of last year, this year's Game Jam facilitated the release of 54 new electronic games.
“This event helps boost the game design and development spirit, encourages innovation and creativity, and gets the community together,” says Fatma Al Ashmawi, marketing executive at the Gaming Center of Excellence at the Information Technology Institute.
This year, the event featured group activities, a startup fair, expert speeches, and game development tutorials. Participants formed teams, and proposed ideas (combining similar ones according to interest and expertise), and started developing their games.
A jury of game development experts from companies like Microsoft, Nokia, and Samsung announced winners in different game platform categories. Several companies also offered valuable prizes for talented developers during the event.
The following games made it to the winners list:
- Best Android Game: Augmented
Vague is a mobile game in which users search for hidden objects
using augmented reality. The game was specially recognized for
superior graphics, performance, and design.
- Best Windows OS game: Mr. Black, a game
with a spherical cartoon character who tries to stay within screen
boundaries while avoiding obstacles. The game, developed by three
Egyptian developers. is fun despite its basic design.
- A Microsoft Special Prize for the youngest participant went
to Omar Hisham, a 13 year-old Egyptian game developer. He was
recognized for developing My Egypt, a
simple game about the ancient Egyptian monuments.
- Best Game (HTML5): Dragon Vs Chicken (El-Teneen El-mogana7). This is a multiplayer game for devices that support HTML5.
In spite of the hardships, Al Ashmawi believes local developers and programmers are getting more talented everyday. “Mobile games are providing the best opportunity for game developers to test their skills and try the market, with little risk involved,” she says. “With a little more effort and support for the gaming community, more opportunities will be provided for developers to shine,” she adds.
Developing electronic games, and mobile games in particular, is becoming very popular in the region. There has also been a leap in venture capital investment in the gaming market; GameTako, for example, secured funding from N2V last year.