Ghana: African programmers developing games for iPhone

Programmers, Eyram Akorfa Tawiah from Ghana and Wesley Kirinya from Kenya are co-founders of Leti Games, a Ghanaian start-up building games for the iPhone and other gaming platforms. Their names would soon become a household one soon after their release of the iWarrior from Leti Games.

iWarrior on iTunes App Store

According to Eyram Tawiah [developer/programmer],

the iWarrior is a casual game with great African art and sounds. With its simple intense game play, it puts you in the role of protecting your village from Africa's most feared wild animals. From the thundering Elephants, the camouflaging Lions, the swift Cheetahs, silly Hyenas and others, experience the wild on your iPhone or iPod Touch.

Eyram is a product of the KNUST from Kumasi and Meltwater Foundation where he was a Teaching Fellow inspiring others and also working on his projects. I booked for an interview immediately I heard of iWarrior’s release but couldn’t get the chance as he was busy sorting other issues out. Luckily for me, I got hold of him online yesterday even though he seems busy; he was able to grant me this interview which answers all my questions about their [his] game release.

Below is the full text of my interview with Eyram Akofa Tawiah [EAT]:

Mac-Jordan [MJ]: What got you started in programming?

Eyram Akofa Tawiah [EAT]: It is funny but my love for games actually got me serious with programming. I wanted to make my own game for the comics I used to draw back in the days.

MJ: How would you describe your programming style / what languages you are ok with?

EAT: I’m very conversant with all programming languages for now. I work with programming principles but not the language. I design and implement in any language that I find can do the job right for me but I’m very comfortable in .NET (VB, C#), PHP, java and Objective C.

MJ: What software do you use most for your works?

EAT: I use Microsoft Office applications and the IDE's. I prefer the Mozilla Firefox and Safari browsers because they are very safe to use.

MJ: What would be the first thing I would find when I enter your room?

EAT: (laughing at this question) upon entering my room, you will find my girlfriend’s portrait picture on the wall, a desktop computer on a table in the hall, my laptop [either in my bag or on the table].

MJ: What would I find in your laptop bag?

EAT: My MacBook Pro, my phones and if possible a PSP [PlayStation Portable]

MJ: Who is your best Movie Actor/Actress in Ghana? Have you watched any Ghanaian movies lately?

EAT: To be honest with you, I don’t watch Ghanaian movies. No reasons for that though. I think, I watched “Perfect Picture” and I liked it. Apart from that, I can’t say anything on movies from Ghana.

MJ: As a programmer, I believe you have a sense for music. What is your choice of music?

EAT: I have a wide range of music I listen to but on my heavy rotations; I have Classics, Hymns, Country music, Hip-hop & Hip-life. I’m beginning to have a thing for this generation of Afro-pop music coming from the youth of Ghana.

MJ: What books have you been reading over the past week?

EAT: As a matter of fact, I’ve been programming over the past week so I never got the time to read any books yet except lookups in some programming books and blogs online for info’s and many more…

MJ: What particular challenges do you face as a programmer in Ghana?

EAT: Constant outage of electricity, slow internet speed and the most annoying of all, internal politics in organizations.

MJ: How do you see the future of Programming & Developing in Ghana?

EAT: [sighing] hmmm…  I would say, very bright. Almost everyone is barely a programmer these days and I like the idea of helping friends out whenever they are faced with any challenges. Information Technology is fast becoming the order of the day so I see, developing/programming leading in all facets. I’m very active in the Ghana Developers Group and also share a lot of info to members.

MJ: Are you currently working on any projects?

EAT: Currently, I am working on 2 games due next month. The iWarrior and its j2me version [kijiji] are already out. There’s another multiplayer game due next month.
MJ: Which other programmers inspire your work and why?

EAT: A lot of them do. I like programmers like John Carmack; CEO of ID Software, Erik Hersmann of Afrigadget and Whiteafrican… Locally, a lot of my colleagues inspire me. I learn from anyone and also share with anyone irrespective of sex, race, ethnicity, color or background.

MJ: What has been the best advice given to you by another programmer?

EAT: Don’t be selfish at what you know; be willing to share. Sharing helps you to know more. The more you share, the more you know.

MJ: What advice would you share with programmers starting out?

EAT: My advice to up-coming programmers is for them to take programming seriously. They should do it for a good cause. They should be passionate about it, because after all they would see it as another language but not a curse.

MJ: How are iPhone users without App Store accounts supposed to get a copy of the iWarrior Game from Ghana?

EAT: Currently, you can get the iWarrior through the app store on iTunes. As a consolation, please consider signing up as a beta-tester for our next games and you will get the games to play pre-release. You can also download the game from iTunes App Store

MJ: Tell me something nobody knows about you and want them to know..

EAT: Games are a great way to relax. It is a continuous mind teaser, and is also a very profitable avenue for business in the world. Africans should not look down on it because it forms one of the biggest economy boosters in the developed countries. In the US, the game industry is bigger than the music and the movie industry combined. Africans can make it big in this industry. It takes determination and perseverance and a little bit of networking to accomplish though.

MJ: Your final words…

EAT: I wish to see more game developers in Ghana and Africa soon. It’s fun to make games and a good way to understand programming faster. If anyone is interested in it and wants someone to talk to or share thoughts with, I’m always there to help.

MJ: Thanks a lot for your time and I really appreciate it loads.

EAT: You are always welcome, Mac-Jordan. I’m very happy to see Ghana Blogging Group going places and I know, you are very active on that. Keep it up and do feel free to contact me if you want to move your blog to your own domain. I’m ready to help anytime.

According to Erik Hersmann of WhiteAfrican blog,

iWarrior is an excellent first game on the iPhone platform from two highly talented and creative African game developers. I expect that there will be lot of good games and other applications coming from this team over time – both on the iPhone and other platforms. It's a game to be proud of and one that I hope a lot of others will buy.

Photo Credit:  iTunes.


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