Mark Kaigwa

Posts Tagged ‘Videogame’

Pamoja Mtaani Wins Award + Features at Games for Health 2009

In Happenings on November 27, 2009 at 12:36 pm

This post is long overdue, but earlier this year, Pamoja Mtaani – a videogame I co-wrote and consulted on for Warner Bros was awarded the Global Business Coalition‘s Core Competence Business Excellence Award. The excerpt is below.

Congratulations to Award-Winning”PAMOJA MTAANI” (”Together in the Hood”), Behavior Change Video Game

The “PAMOJA MTAANI” (”Together in the Hood”), Behavior Change Video Game, created by Warner Bros, won the Global Business Coalition’s Business Excellence Award.

As a key component of the Partnership for an HIV-Free Generation, this open world five player LAN-Based PC game educates youth in Kenya.

The Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria honored Warner Bros. Entertainment with the Core Competence Business Excellence Award for the video game “Pamoja Mtaani” (”Together in the Hood”) at the GBC Business Excellence Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C. “Pamoja Mtaani”, Swahili for “Together in the Hood”, is an open world, five player LAN-based PC video game created by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment in collaboration with technical experts within the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and noted serious games developer, Virtual Heroes, Inc.

Warner Bros. Entertainment, in partnership with PEPFAR, applied its core competence to develop an action-based videogame pilot that is delivering targeted HIV prevention messages to East African youths. The videogame combines traditional gameplay with messages aimed at changing behavior, focusing on key behaviors that can reduce HIV infections among youth. The game development is part of The Partnership for an HIV-Free Generation, a  public-private collaboration among PEPFAR and businesses with critical core competencies such as messaging, new technologies and market research.

The “Pamoja Mtaani” videogame can be played at select youth venues in Nairobi, which are an integral component of this new initiative to revolutionize HIV prevention. The game, intended to engage youth through fun interaction, is designed to help influence HIV risk perceptions, attitudes and behaviors among young people in Nairobi.

Pamoja Mtaani also featured at Games for Health 2009. Below is the presentation that Producer, Kirsten Gavoni, gave some details on what it was like making the videogame (It was Warner Bros. first such project in Africa)

Pamoja Mtaani is available to play at three centres in Nairobi right now, two centres in the Mukuru slum and the National Youth Service along Thika Road. I’d suggest you go play it.

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World Cyber Games Kenya Team is here!

In Perspective on October 26, 2009 at 9:22 pm

So, if you’ve been keeping up with things on the Ukwelii Blog, a couple weeks ago, I told you about the WCG Kenya Team Finals happening at the Village Market.

They went down, and we’re pretty successful. For those who were unable to make it, and those who want to cheer the Kenya team, they leave in around 2 weeks for China to represent Kenya at the World Cyber Games.

There’s an official website for Kenya and Facebook group now so you can keep up with all the action.

It was sponsored by D Link, Mecer, The Village Market, and the awesome guys behind The Lwanda Magere Comic,

Don’t forget to check out the video below for all the action from the Village Market.

The event was the first of its kind and is called the NexGen Gaming Tournament.

Seems gaming’s taking good footing in Kenya, I wish Erix, Nathan, Deen and the gang all the best.

WaKenya eeeeeh!!!! WaKenya aaaaaahhhh!!!!

Go Kenya.

Wonder if they’ve got a name – like Shujaa – 7’s team, Chipu – short for Chipukizi – under 20 7’s Rugby team… WCG Gaming Team – Chezo? I don’t know 🙂

World Cyber Games Kenya Team Finals

In Happenings on October 16, 2009 at 2:48 pm

So Kenya’s going to give the World Cyber Games a shot, and they’re putting together a team to represent the nation in the Gaming Olympics, so to speak.

Go Kenya Go!

For any gamers out there, the details below.

Date: 17th of October 2009

Venue:The Village Market Pool Hall

Time: 10 AM to 10 PM

Le Damages:  Ksh. 1,000 for Competitors and Ksh. 100 for Spectators

Games: Starcraft and FIFA ’09

And they’re seriously looking for the best competitors at both.

There’ll also be a couple rounds of Call of Duty 4 (LAN) with some Xbox 360s for those who want to console themselves (pun intended).

Just to let you know a little about the WCG Games – this year’s Prize money is $500,000 so just the same way Kenyans do the marathon, we’re about to run the Gaming world.

Other games to be played at the WCG include Guitar Hero (Why Kenyans aren’t already going crazy over this game, I still don’t know)

It’s been organised by the most passionate Anime fanatics in East Africa (The whole continent in my opinion) – the Anime Anonymous Group on Facebook, chock full of Bleach, Samurai X and Manga Fanatics (Like you wouldn’t believe)

They meet up monthly and have got over 800 members in the FB Group and even have an Official Facebook App – And a pretty good one I might add.

Pamoja Mtaani : Breaking New Ground in Gaming and Social Awareness.

In Perspective on December 17, 2008 at 1:17 pm

It’s been 11 months since the inception of this Warner Bros. Project, now debuted and launched. Named, Pamoja Mtaani (‘Together in The Hood’ in Swahili) it’s unprecedented territory as far as both gaming and Social Awareness on HIV/AIDS is concerned.

Pamoja Mtaani Animation Screenshot

The PC Video game “Pamoja Mtaani”, developed by Virtual Heroes and Published by Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment (WBIE) is part of the HIV Free Generation Project made possible by PEPFAR ( The President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Response). I will state unashamedly that US President George W. Bush has done more for Africa than any other president in history. There is little to debate on this matter.

Obama may hail from Kenya, and remain it’s talisman, but it is hard to see him ever coming close to reaching the touchstone that President Bush has reached. With economic hardship, and the American people demanding change, his mandate is to serve his country; we will respect that. But what’s for sure, is that we’re really proud of him and we are sure that with PEPFAR and the HIV Free Generation Programs in place, we’re in good hands.

With Pamoja Mtaani, what we are witnessing is a radical and most certain an unprecedentedly bold approach to combating HIV/AIDS. Targetting the younger African generation, starting in Kenya, addressing them where they are at. With this project in particular, the beginning of the HIV Free Generation Initiative, the youth are being engaged on a level not before envisioned here in Kenya. Through players engaging and fostering a creative and communal approach to challenges in the game, it’s been rolled out at three major locations in Nairobi to start with: the National Youth Service HQ, The Hope Worldwide Center in Mukuru and Micato Safaris St. Mary’s Church in Mukuru as well.

The game is a RPG (Role-Playing Game) which was designed to be played by 5 characters at a time over a LAN (Local Area Network). The official statement from WBIE (Warner Bros. Interactive) sums it up.

“The game follows five strangers who are brought together through unforeseen circumstances, losing what is most precious to each of them. Working their way through various East African neighborhoods, players must recover the stolen items and help an injured woman on their quest. Along the way, they will experience barriers and facilitators to behavior change through a variety of missions and mini-games. ”

Writing the videogame was a challenge, and one of the most insightful, and demanding projects I have ever been involved in. And I loved the opportunity to create, and adapt something this visual and this visceral for a market that hasn’t been approached in this way before.

One of the most interesting things for me was ensuring that the videogame was able to achieve the Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) Objectives. With each character crafted with an arc, to which they gradually transform and fulfil during the game. We had BCC Expert  Nichola Harford, currently based in Zimbabwe working with us, as well as several other teams on both continents.

My trip to the U.S at the beginning of the year to study meant that my schedule would change slightly, and I would be away from home. With that, seasoned writer and thespian Cajetan Boy was selected to write the game from Kenya, with Nicola and I forming the rest of the writing team. This turned out for the best. We were in constant contact, the time difference was cut back significantly for me (From +10 Hours to +3). And best of all, I was able to harness the power of ‘real’ broadband to teleconference, send and download Giga-sized chunks of material at will.

To integrate sheng (local slang- a blend of English and Swahili) into the game, as well as translate the entire game into sheng was something I relished. Sheng, I believe is the epitomy of popular youth culture in Kenya. It is dynamic, unashamed, and defiant. Sheng conforms itself to your reality. So much so that it is by no means restricted to it’s transcribed form. It’s written form cannot keep up.

It continually defies the rules set to govern it (sound like your member of parliament?), and it fluctuates in punctuation and inflection between neighbourhoods, street corners and cities. An example, that’s already outdated by the fact I can write it down  : some words get reversed at a moments notice, and their reversed and revised editions replace them. Most times indefinitely, but then there is no indefinity in it, is there?

There were also 5 CG Short Films developed to debut with the game, and give players and the masses quick views into the characters lives. They were directed by visionary animation director Chris Bailey and were produced by Aaron Parry of Mainstreet Productions. I had the chance to do writing and consultation on part of the project, and you can view them here on the HIV Free Website hosted by Warner Bros.  (http://hivfreegeneration.warnerbros.com)

The entire process of writing both the Short Films and the Videogame was a revelation. Being able to see scripts go from being marked up in their 10th version, and being able to meet on a middleground between our different cultures, yet staying relevant to Kenya’s was amazing.

There is hope that with the game, and the large amounts of data that will be collected from it, we will be several great steps closer to achieving a HIV Free Generation.