Mr Okada Hits The Streets! – The latest video game based on Lagos
The latest video game based on Lagos
You either love them or hate them but now you can be them!
Tobias Ighofose is the Nigerian software developer from London’s Silicone Valley, one half of BisonPlay. David Sewell is the other half and together they have produced Mr Okada, an addictive Lagos-based video game. We caught up with Tobias and Dave to find out more…
So let me guess, Mr Okada is a down-and-out motorcycle driver facing Lagos challenges as he tries to make money?
T: Yes, he is trying to make money to achieve his dreams as a successful afrobeats artist. He also has to pay his bills such as rent, treat his girlfriend Angela from time to time and pay his best friend Capone who helps him produce his songs. He is simply a hardworking man with big dreams.
What is it about the Okadas that inspired this project?
T: Okadas are one of the things many people can relate to in Nigeria, be it positive or negative, they have made a big impact and left a huge impression amongst many.
What really stands out is how they meander through the traffic which can be easily translated into gameplay. It is simply game friendly. I’ve ridden on one before and the riders sometimes are so skilled at going through traffic.
What sorts of hustles does Mr Okada attempt?
T: He works hard on his okada trying to pick up as many passengers as possible during the day so he can make enough money to achieve his dreams of becoming an afrobeats artist with the help of Capone.
What type of game is this?
T: We described it as a simulation game as you ride on a bike trying to avoid incoming traffic and pick up passengers.
Okadas are considered the scourge of Lagos (as well as being very useful). Do you think they get a bad rap?
T: I don’t think they really get a bad rap from the average Lagosian as their usefulness is quite clear in a city with constant traffic and congestion.
Is this your first computer game?
D: As a company it is our first game. Tobias and myself have a lot of previous experience creating games for the likes of 2K games, Nickelodeon, BBC, Disney and many others.
Why is your company named Bisonplay?
D: We wanted to give ourselves enough flexibility in the future to not only do games but anything that interacts with customers whether it’s an app, branding or a digital product display. A bison is a very powerful animal and we wanted to use this as a basis of making a large impact in the gaming industry.
What age group would you say it’s for?
D: 18-34 young professionals was our first thought but based on analytics data, a lot of older people in their 40s and early 50s have shown a lot of interest and also purchased the game. We also get feedback from some parents who always say how much their kids love the game. It’s an African game through and through so it resonates with a wider range.
It’s certainly a very original concept. Do you think those outside of the Lagos matrix will get it?
T: Definitely. The game has nostalgic appeal for gamers familiar with the Lagos setting. Those who have not visited have also praised the game saying it’s been a really fun insight into what Lagos looks and feels like. Some other cities in Nigeria and Africa also have this form of transportation so they can easily relate.
What sort of success have you had already?
D: Our first two months since the launch have been really positive. The download figures especially on iOS are better than we expected, which is great for a paid indie game with no investors or backing. We have had a lot of coverage across social channels and gained over a thousand followers on Instagram and Facebook. This audience is now giving us regular feedback on posts and beta testing. In return we are rewarding our followers with prizes based on high scorers. Sales have been strong and we are now working on our next major release with two bonus levels and further enhancements, ready before the end of January.
As a Nigerian, do you think there’s an issue of stereotyping Nigerians?
T: Yes there is but it doesn’t bother me as much as the good outweighs the bad in my opinion. I know Nigerians have a strong ethos towards good education and are generally hard working. This is instilled from a young age. This is becoming an acceptable “stereotype” for many across the world as they realise how hardworking Nigerians can be.
Where will you take Mr Okada next? Cartoon, film, book?
D: Right now it’s all about building up that brand and getting the exposure.
T: We are planning a second chapter to the story as there are many more obstacles, trials and tribulations faces on the road to success.
Why should anyone download Mr Okada?
T: Because it’s a fun and addictive African focused game with a good story that many can easily relate to.
Mr Okada is available to download at N300 now from smartphone app stores with no add-ons to buy