Game ends in a win for software developers

Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde and Cape Innovation and Tech Initiative (CiTi) head of innovation Michelle Matthews announce the winner of the Serious about Gaming competition.

A team of software developers won R1 million for designing a game that helps to solve problems in the real world.

The competition, Serious About Games, was devised by provincial government and tech companies to challenge the industry to find an innovative game design to solve some of society’s most pressing problems.

Vukuzenzela, a collaborative team between an NGO, Ikhayalami, and a software company, Renderheads, was announced the winner by Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde at the Bandwidth Barn, in Woodstock, on Tuesday April 4.

The team’s idea allows informal settlement residents to re-block their community and improve the layout of their surroundings while waiting for state housing opportunities.

Ben Nkuna, Ikhayalami’s finance director, said the game had reach across the province specifically in Dunoon, Khayelitsha, Gugulethu and Imizamo Yethu.

“The concept is to understand your own environment and assist with decision making in your community.

“Vukuzenzela means wake up and do it yourself and it shows that there are opportunities outside of waiting for RDP houses.

“The game puts the player in the shoes of someone rolling out the re-blocking project and they can upgrade and move things around. They have to have conversations with people in their area to find out how they feel about the ideas they come up with,” said Mr Nkuna.

The game design, he said, could help residents plan spaces between their shacks to allow access for emergency vehicles. They could also create flood lighting in an area to deter crime.

Renderhead’s managing director, Shane Marks, said their win gave them a chance to take the game concept to a wider audience.

The game would eventually be made available to the public as an app.

Mr Winde said games like the one developed by Vukuzenzela could help government collect valuable data.

“The strategic goal of government is to look for growth and jobs and we see the importance of putting these questions into games. What I saw tonight will drive the change we need. We have to make sure that we’re relevant in the new economy,” he said.