I’ve never written about a game company in Africa. Here’s a first. Gamecarte of Windhoek, Namibia, has come up with a clever twist on Sudoku, the numbers game that so many people are obsessed with around the world.
They’ve created a version of the game that runs on the company’s web site. You can log in and play it there. Then you can pause it and pick up where you left off on a mobile phone. The version of Sudoku created by Gamecarte has a timer. You can pause the game on your PC and log in on a Flash-based cell phone, where you can unpause the game and play. So far, it works on Nokia, Android, Windows mobile, and Sony Ericsson phones.
That’s pretty cool. Gamecarte is a self-funded, three-employee company that got started in February. The idea is to provide entertainment to people on any device. Longer term, the company wants to use games as a form of education or training. Getting off the ground is no small achievement in Namibia, where the per capita income is about $4,200 a year.
The company is also working on a version of chess and will release more multi-device games later this year. Of course, the company has competition on a global scale, since most casual game web sites have their own versions of Sudoku. But company director Nikesh Vayda says that about 90 percent of Sudoku players don’t complete their puzzle in one sitting. People play in 10 to 15 minute bursts.
Vayda (pictured in red, left) tells me there are no other tech companies developing content the way his company does in Namibia. There are tech companies creating enterprise products in South Africa, but few developing content. It’s a fledgling sector in Africa. His company got started using lots of open-source software and Internet resources. Then it farmed out a fair amount of work to an outsourcing team in India. His team happens to be of Indian descent, but Vayda says he was born and raised in Namibia. But whatever his background, the thing that counts is whether the game is good or not. This one doesn’t have bells and whistles, but it’s a good version of Sudoku and the multi-platform game play should set it apart in the market. So maybe it’s about time we gave some Namibian software a try.