Adone Kitching
Senior Producer

Devolver Digital

Andrea Hayes
Game Designer
Ben Mcinnes
Game Developer


Ben Myres
CEO & Creative Director


Bianca Louw
Community Manager

Yellow Lab games

Bongane Mahlangu
Art Director


Bridie Roman
Senior Producer

Devolver Digital

Dr Carla Lever
Research Fellow

Centre for Theatre, Dance & Performance Studies, UCT

Crystal Ball

Team Lazerbeam/Douglas Knowledge Partners

Dominique Gawlowski
Managing Director

Free Lives

Elben Schutte

PressureCooker Studios

Francois van Niekerk
Game Designer & Programmer

Clockwork Acorn

Gareth Wilcock

24 Bit Games

Hanna Fogelberg
Head of Community

Landfall Games

John Davis
Co-founder & Organiser


Jonathan Hau-Yoon
Programmer & Lead Artist

Free Lives

Jon Keevy
Writer and Content Creator
Josie Fletcher
Community Manager

Massive Monster

Juan De La Torre

Devolver Digital

Kamogelo Makhoba
Game Designer, Marketing Manager and Content Creator

Tinybabycrown games

Karin Stierlin

Taboobreaker Association

Kirsten-Lee Naidoo
Business Developer & Scout


Krista May
Communications and Business Relations


Marie Foulston
Marie Foulston

Good Afternoon

Natalie Cuthbert
Game Developer
Ng'endo VR panel talk at Goethe Institute, Nairobi, Kenya - 4 Feb 2020
Nyambura M. Waruingi
Founder and Creative Director

Akoia & Company Ltd

Orina Dorothy
Game Designer & Project Manager

Maliyo Games

Paolo Pedercini


Petter Vilberg
Programmer & Designer
Richard Bolland

Studio Bolland

Lead Game Designer


Ross Borchers
Game Developer

Yellow Lab

Ruan Rothman
Game Developer

Free Lives

Thabo Tsolo
Game Designer & 3D Artist

SpaceSalad Studios

Thorsten S
Thorsten S Wiedemann
founder and artistic director


Tutaleni Ilonga

TL Entertainment

Wandile Matsebula
Sound Designer

SpaceSalad Studios

Adone Kitching

Adoné Kitching is a Senior Producer at Devolver Digital, where she works on games like Poinpy, Terra Nil, the Reigns franchise and The Plucky Squire. Before joining Devolver Digital, she worked as a Producer at Free Lives, helping the team ship Cricket Through the Ages and GORN. In her spare time, Adoné makes games under the banner of Nothing Exploded. The team’s alternative controller game, Guitar Wizards, was showcased at alt.ctrl.GDC and Playtopia in 2019, and their game Clutch Kickers will be on display at Playtopia 2023.

Andrea Hayes

Andrea is South African-based video game designer, website developer and game studies academic. Currently, she is pursuing her PhD in Development Studies at the University of Pretoria, with research concentrated on replicating elements of the Anthropocene in South African Landscapes within Virtual Reality. Andrea is also a game design lecturer at the SAE Institute in Johannesburg, focusing on multiple areas of game design including multiplayer networking, XR studies and foundational coding in multiple programming languages. In 2018, Andrea and her friend and colleague Ben launched their first video game, “Helping Hand,” on Steam. Andrea’s professional drive is rooted in creative coding, innovative digital art experiments, and. the development of video games. Andrea is passionate about diversifying the tech industry and empowering women and LGBT folk in game development.

Ben Mcinnes

Ben McInnes is a South African-raised, London-based game developer working at Nerial as Project Lead on the Reigns franchise. The team shipped Reigns: Three Kingdoms on Netflix in 2022. Ben has worked on early-phase game prototypes, emotional apps, interactive exhibits and edutainment spaces. In a previous life, he studied mechatronics engineering and has used those skills to build alternative controller games like Guitar Wizards (showcased at both Playtopia and GDC). Most importantly, Ben doesn’t really know how cars work but that won’t stop him giving this talk…

Ben Myres

Ben Myres is the CEO and Creative Director of Johannesburg-based games studio, Nyamakop. In 2018 they released Semblance, which became the first African developed game to ever release on a Nintendo console. Nyamakop’s currently unannounced project features one of the largest teams ever assembled to work on a single videogame made in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Ben previously was the Program Manager for A MAZE. / Johannesburg and lectured game design at Wits University. He has been included on Mail and Guardian’s ‘Top 200 Young South Africans’, Design Indaba’s ‘Emerging Creatives’, and Forbes Africa’s ’30 under 30′ lists for his work.

Bianca Louw

Hi! My name is Bianca! I’m somewhat of a Jack-of-most-trades that somehow found myself in the indie game space by accident, like most. Despite studying Analytical Chemistry in university, I’m now the community manager of a new indie game studio, Yellow Lab Games. Between the years of 2014 & 2021, I had the opportunity to write about games & the gaming industry for various local online news sites like G3AR and SA Gamer. Now I find myself on the other side of the iron curtain.

Bongane Mahlangu

Bongane is an environmental concept artist driven by a passion for film and video games. He has almost a decade of industry experience in his craft and is currently using his skills to lead a department as an Art Director at Nyamakop. When Bongane isn’t creating rich fantasy and culturally inspired artwork, he likes to lift weights and experiment with photographic lense.

Bridie Roman

Bridie is a Senior Producer at Devolver Digital working on a variety of games, some of which have even been announced. She is mostly responsible for bringing people together to organise the release of the game, working closely with her developers to ensure that the team feels supported, and has everything they need to make a great game.This often involves a lot of time looking at Spreadsheets or Jira. Prior to joining Devolver Digital she was a Producer at Square Enix External Studios, working on the Just Cause franchise.

Dr Carla Lever

Dr Carla Lever is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies at the University of Cape Town, where she explores the relationship between creativity and social change. She thinks that play holds radical potential to change things, and hopes that includes the world.

Crystal Ball

Thanks to years of ethnographic fieldwork, I found my game dev family in Cape Town. I co-run Playtopia’s volunteer program and proudly wear the Super Friendship Arcade t-shirt. At Team Lazerbeam, I am the producer on our upcoming dating/wrestling sim, Wrestling with Emotions: New Kid on the Block. I am also a Senior Knowledge Partner and writer at Douglas Knowledge Partners, where we collaborate with thought partners to magnify the impact of ideas on the world.

Elben Schutte

Elben Schutte is a composer for film, television, advertising and video games at Pressure Cooker Studios. He has many years of experience composing various genres. His notable work includes the South African animated film Seal Team, the docuseries Devil’s Dorp and the upcoming video game Manor Lords. In 2022, Elben also created the Pressure Cooker Internship Programme, the aim of which is to nurture the talent of budding composers finding their way in the industry.

Francois van Niekerk

Francois has spent a decade wearing many hats at Clockwork Acorn and Spry Fox, but at heart he’s a game designer and programmer. He’s taken projects from concept to release, and been part of larger teams, like Jetstream, Cozy Grove and Steambirds Alliance. He is currently focused on growing Clockwork Acorn and the South African game industry. He likes tea.

Gareth Wilcock

A self-taught programmer, Gareth started game development in 2006 as a humble hobbyist, creating small games in his spare time and learning the craft as part of the burgeoning local dev community. He joined 24 Bit Games in 2015 as a generalist programmer, and in the subsequent eight years has come to specialize in performance optimization for mobile and console platforms, while contributing to such titles as Gorn, Totally Accurate Battle Simulator, and Cocoon. He also finds describing himself in third person like this *really weird*.

Hanna Fogelberg

Hanna is the head of Community at Landfall Games, a Sweden-based indie studio most known for their games Totally Accurate Battle Simulator, Stick Fight: The Game, Rounds, and Clustertruck.

John Davis

John Davis, a co-founder and organizer of BitSummit, has an extensive background of 15 years working in the Japanese games industry. Originally from Atlanta, he began his career as a freelancer for publications such as Famitsu, IGN, and Game Labo. He then transitioned to development, working with indie studios in Japan like Grasshopper Manufacture and Q-Games. Presently, John holds the position of Global Marketing Manager and Biz Dev at Shueisha Games, where he helps promote and develop indie games.

Jonathan Hau-Yoon

Jonathan (he/they) has worked in the game industry for over a decade, including contributions to Broforce, Fortnite, GORN, and Genital Jousting. Born in Johannesburg, he holds a degree in applied mathematics and a diploma in visual communication. He is currently based in Cape Town where he works at Free Lives on Terra Nil, a cosy eco puzzle game. He wears many hats, with game credits as a programmer, artist, fx artist, technical artist and lead artist. His Instagram stories are 20% art and 80% photos of his cats.

Jon Keevy

Jon Keevy is an award winning writer and content creator in Cape Town, South Africa. He specialises in computer games but has written plays, short films, short stories, a fantasy novel, and children’s books.You can find him on his Zarnia YouTube channel being a silly geek.

Josie Fletcher

Josie has a degree in “weird internet stuff” and “hehe memes”. With over 6 years of social media experience from multiple game titles to Full-time streaming. Her goal is world domination but will settle for a bowl of Shin Ramyun with cheese.

Karin Stierlin

I am Karin Stierlin, the founder of the Taboobreaker Association and initiator of Love Land.

I started my professional career as a teacher and learning therapist. Even then, I used the potential of playful learning and realistic learning environments to motivate young people to learn.

After graduating with a degree in Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH), I became frustrated with the lack of innovative and evidence-based teaching materials, that addressed the sensitive and taboo SRH topics in an age-appropriate and play-based manner.

That was the birth of Love Land, the board game that is being used successfully in European schools. A pilot project with the Love Land board game in Indonesia and South Africa showed me that Love Land could also be used in countries with other cultural and religious backgrounds.

I then founded the Taboobreaker Association with the aim of working with highly qualified teams of experts to develop SRH education programs that can be used worldwide, incorporating the potential of digital health education and thus using digital channels, such as apps to reach young people on a large scale.

Me in three words: Passionate – Creative – Persistent

Kirsten-Lee Naidoo

Kirsten-Lee Naidoo is a business developer and scout at Landfall, the Swedish indie studio behind Totally Accurate Battle Simulator. Previously, she’s done business development for many indie titles including Among Us, Tangle Tower and What the Golf?. She is currently based in Cape Town and also volunteers at Playtopia in her spare time.

Krista May

Krista May does communications and developer relations at WINGS, an organization committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in the video game industry by supporting studios led by women and gender marginalized developers. 

Marie Foulston

Marie Foulston is a leading curator behind exhibitions, installations and experiences that specialise in videogames, play and digital culture. She is co-founder and creative director of Good Afternoon, an experiential design creative agency. Previously she was Curator of Videogames at the V&A where she lead the curation of the headline exhibition ‘Videogames’, was guest director of experimental games festival ‘Now Play This’ at Somerset House and co-founded the UK alternative videogame collective the Wild Rumpus. Across her career she has worked alongside a host of international organisations and leading cultural institutions including the Smithsonian, ACMI, PlayStation, the Design Museum, Netflix, Channel 4 and Nintendo.

Natalie Cuthbert

Natalie has been making games since 2013. She has a particular focus on stylized 3d art and animation, shaders and procedural art tools. She is an active member of the South African game development community and has been a long time friend to Super Friendship Arcade, the punk experimental games party. Professionally she helped port Neon White to PlayStation as a part of 24Bit Games, and was the former CTO and co-founder of payments startup Stitch. Natalie has been part of a team that were A MAZE Award nominees, for their psychedelic virtual music festival adventure.

Towards the end of 2020, Natalie came out openly as a trans woman. Despite feeling like an awkward teenager, she has been amazed to see how many friends and people in the broader community have been supportive of her transition.

Nyambura M. Waruingi

Nyambura M. Waruingi is a writer, producer, and curator at the intersection of art, culture, and immersive technology. She is the Founder and Creative Director of Akoia & Company Ltd, a two-time grantee of Women Win’s ONSIDE Gaming. In producing transformative and audience-centred projects, she experiments with filmmaking, immersive storytelling and gaming. Her XR installations and gaming experiences have been presented at Games For Change Global, XR Women, Games For Change Africa, Museum Next, and Xbox Game Camp Africa. Akoia & Co.’s flagship production, The Ground Screams To Whisper, has been invited to Artizen’s Showcase, DoK Leipzig XR Exchange, and New Images Festival XR Development Market. Akoia’s mantra is: #imagineradically

Orina Dorothy

Game Designer and Project Manager at Maliyo Games enthusiastic about storytelling through Digital Arts and technology. Winner of East Africa Com Awards 2022 under Most Most Innovative Product of Service category.

Paolo Pedercini

Paolo Pedercini is a game developer, curator and educator. He teaches digital media and experimental game design at the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University. Since 2003 he works under the project name “Molleindustria” producing provocative games addressing issues of ecology, social justice, urbanism and labor.

Paolo is the director of LIKELIKE, a neo-arcade devoted to independent games and playful art in Pittsburgh, PA.

Petter Vilberg

Petter is a freelance designer, writer, programmer, or whatever else a project needs. He has worked with numerous teams on a variety of games, from Crusader Kings 3 to South Africa’s own Terra Nil.

He aims to explore new ways of telling stories, and has spent a lot of time thinking about how to use systems to make people feel things.

Richard Bolland

Richard is one of the three directors at Studio Bolland, a 2D animation company that has been making animated explainers, adverts and shorts since 2014. Having found success locally and abroad with over 500 projects for brands such as Oreo, Dell, WordPress, ESPN and MTN, they decided they would shake things up this year by taking on the challenge of starting a games division.

The idea was simple: create 12 prototypes in 6 months to help find their feet and forge their way forward. With a natural knack for creative storytelling, engaging visual design and humour, the results are fun casual games across a variety of genres, from arcade games to racers, to adventure games and party games.

They’re still finding their feet, and have learnt lots of lessons, but they’ve also had a lot of fun while slowly gaining traction on the indie gaming scene. Watch this space!


Henrike Lode is the Lead Game Designer at South African game studio Nyamakop. She lectured Game Design at the University of the Witwatersrand, at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, and at the IT University of Copenhagen, where she received her Master degree in Game Design in 2012. Henrike was CEO and Creative Director of the Copenhagen-based game studio Lohika, where she and her team developed and self-published the award-winning puzzle adventure Machineers.

Ross Borchers

I’m a nerd who likes to make games. Hi.

When I was young, I wanted to be a game developer. My teacher told me I couldn’t do it, so out of spite, I entered an upbeat, vibey montage where I sharpened my skills in the jungle. Then I came back with a vengeance. Now it’s time for crime.

I spent 6 years working on the hit series: “games you never played”. I now work at Yellow Lab Games, making the award-winning roguelike brawler “Metavoidal”! (Also part of the “games you never played” series)

I spend my time cursing timelines. I also do gameplay programming, design things, and make tools/tech arty stuff.
I like game jamming and care a lot about creativity and feelings. HMU

Ruan Rothman

Ruan has been working at Free Lives for more than 10 years. He is a major contributor to Broforce and GORN, two of the most successful games to come out of Africa. Nowadays he lends his magical aura to all the projects running at Free Lives as executive producer.

Thabo Tsolo

Hey there, I’m Thabo Tsolo, and I’m the creative mind as a Game Designer and 3D Artist behind the gaming magic at SpaceSalad Studios. Picture this: I blend storytelling and technology to cook up experiences based on social commentary. But it’s not just about games; it’s about building bridges between us humans through my creative concoctions. One of my career highlights was being a part of the team behind the Emmy-winning animation series “My Better World.” It’s like I discovered the superpower of storytelling to unite cultures and touch souls. I co-founded an Indie Games Studio that’s scooped up awards over the past 4 years of our existence.

Some of the achievements we have received for our games are: 2023 Game Connection x China Joy Indie Game Development awards nominations for: Best Upcoming Game, Grand Award People’s Choice Award for Hot Bunz 2023. Sentech’s Africa Tech Week Awards X Topco Start-up of the Year finalist 2023. 2022 Faku’Gesi Rising Star Award 2nd place for Doba Dash 2022. Faku’Gesi Rising Start award 3rd place for Hot Bunz 2022. Faku’gesi Game Jam 2nd place for Horn-Nie 2022. Total Energies Start-up of the Year finalist 2022. 2021 Free Lives Physics Jam Best Diversity Physics gameplay for Hot Bunz 2021. African Launchpad Game Dev Winner for Rapz the Game 3rd place 2021. 2020 Comic Con Africa x Project Springbok game of the year for Doba Dash 2020

Thorsten S Wiedemann

Thorsten S. Wiedemann is founder and artistic director of A MAZE.. He celebrates the convergence of games, art and other media since 2008 with international festivals, exhibitions, artists in residence programmes and workshops on the intersection of games, games culture, interactive and immersive arts and playful media. His festivals “A MAZE. / Berlin” and “A MAZE. / Johannesburg” (until 2017) present independent games, push for more arthouse games and playful media. He creates new formats in different media( A MAZE. Magazine, A MAZE. Pop-ups, A MAZE. Train Jams, A MAZE. / SPACE) and gives room for experimentation, collaboration and exchange. Thorsten established in 2012 the A MAZE. Awards, which go to independent games, arthouse games and playful artistic works in seven categories. His focus is on interdisciplinary discourse and in filling the gaps between games, art and technology. He also has spent 48hrs in VR at his Disconnected performance in 2016. Currently he lives and works in Berlin. 

Tutaleni Ilonga

I am a Game Designer/Producer/Project Manager, Founder of TL Entertainment and Co-Founder of Edu-Game Namibia, all the skills I have I acquired them via self-taught from Graphics Design to Game Design to Project Management, I founded To Unit Rural Applicants Living In Failed Establishments Life Entertainment a company that focuses on creating games, offering training and consulting to corporates who wish to create their own games. I also Co-Founded EduGame Namibia a program design to teach Namibian students how to create their own games.

Wandile Matsebula

My name is Wandile Matsebula. I am a 25 year old sound designer at SpaceSalad Studios. I also handle some of the marketing on a strategic level. I am also a Witwatersrand University graduate with a double major in psychology and archaeology. My true passion lies in music, which I channel into creating immersive audio experiences for games and general listening pleasure.

My Expectations & Me

A talk about how we find ourselves under so much pressure to do & accomplish things, prove ourselves, be something, but by who? Most of the times, it’s just you.

Contributing to a Change in the African Game Industry - A Journey into Game Design

Journey on becoming a game designer and contributing to the ever evolving change of the African game industry, as well as my challenges trying to break into the industry


Video games as a fuck you to oppressive regimes

Kamogelo Makhoba

Hi, I’m Kamogelo Makhoba, a 20 year old game designer, marketing manager and content creator. My journey in the games industry began when I decided to drop out of college studying civil engineering. I started with marketing indie games because I saw a gap. I worked closely with game devs and learned a lot of valuable information and that’s when I decided to become a game designer.


Bahiyya Khan

Bahiyya Khan is a South African multi-award winning game designer, writer, and filmmaker. Khan is most well known for her IGF winning game, after HOURS, a full-motion video game about sexual abuse and Borderline Personality Disorder. She makes games that she hopes will help people and make relevant people uncomfortable.

Luke Vernon

Luke has worked in production for many years: nearly 10 years at TakeTwo working on titles from Gathering, TakeTwo, Rockstar and other labels. Nine years at Activision including six years and three Call of Duty games as Executive Producer at Infinity Ward, four years and counting at Devolver and a good number of forays as an independent consultant sprinkled along the way.
“I love the challenge of making games and of bringing together art and science to create new and magical experiences. I have never ending respect for the creators and marvel and what we can achieve together.”


Kate Ludlow

Kate has spent almost 10 years trying to keep things plugged in at Devolver Digital, including the humans. She handles merch, event operations, travel logistics, weird marketing stunts, and beyond. Kate’s focus is helping make developer and fans’ dreams come true, while offering Texas hospitality to the folks who work at everyone’s 3rd favorite video game publisher.


Xabiso Vili & Inka Kendzia

Kwasukasukela is a Zulu term that, loosely translated, means “In the beginning”. In this particular projection mapping experience, Kwasukasukela is a contemporary African creation myth written by four South African poets. Using traditional storytelling and music techniques, the story borrows from Zulu spirituality. By creating a 360° installation, a traditional healer’s hut (also known as a “sangoma”) is reproduced, which the public is invited to enter for treatment. 

Embark on an extraordinary odyssey, transcending the limits of time and space, into the enigmatic realm of one of South Africa’s most captivating mythical stories. Films such as these, which are an immersive journey harmoniously blending digital aesthetics and the long-standing traditional marks of South African heritage, are created to captivate and hypnotise the audience into a  revolutionary outlook of life past and present.

Amith Ranjith

Amith, a mechanical engineer turned artist, seamlessly melds music and light to craft immersive stage experiences and light artworks. Through the synergy of sound and light, Amith’s creations evoke deep emotions, inviting audiences on a transformative journey through the senses. Prepare to explore a captivating world where art and technology converge.

Electric South

We believe that new technologies must open up spaces for original voices and underrepresented narratives.

Electric South collaborates with artists across Africa in emerging storytelling, through labs, production and distribution.

Electric South is a non-profit company based in Cape Town, South Africa

We provide mentorship, production services, funding and exhibition for a network of artists across Africa to explore their worlds through immersive, interactive stories including virtual and augmented reality, and other digital media.

“If you want to change the world, change the stories.”

Danielle Hitchcock, Mich Mellow & Sandy Harris

Living and working in Cape Town in their respective creative fields, Danielle Hitchcock, Mich Mellow and Sandy Harris share a sense of humour and play. From this came Hank, the furry monster who is trying to be menacing but is actually just a big cutie. With an aim to create an immersive experience that brings both joy and calm in a busy and stimulating environment, the three friends bring Hank to life at a grand scale for everyone to enjoy.

Hallie Haller

Hallie Haller is a South African creative who cares about media, the future, and you. Currently based in Johannesburg, Hallie is interested in collaborative cultural production that invites participation and play.

Hallie has written a multitude of unpublished pieces, received hundreds of rejection letters, invested unwisely in passion projects, and risked it all on a big idea – more than once. For love and money, Hallie is a filmmaker, media artist, and creative industries consultant. 

Hallie is proudly a Berlinale Talents Durban alum, an Electric South New Dimensions fellow for 2023, an ambassador for Girls In Film South Africa, and a creative strategist at The Video Consortium.

“Politics exists in the wake of culture. If you want to change the world, you’ve gotta change the culture.”

– Franklin Leonard, The Blacklist.

Alexia DeFluff

With a background in 3D animation, Alexia DeFluff quickly became interested in universes which are inscribed in space and question curiosity. Particularly inspired by biology and science, she regularly collaborates on projects with the world of research. The encounter and the absurd are also recurring themes in her work, and she have been part of various immersive installations like a traveling giant bamboo labyrinth, a wooden apocalyptic insect temple lost in the woods or a mechanical squad of squids eager to talk to humans through light messages.

Egbert Westra

Award-winning 3D generalist and animator with over 15 years of industry experience.
Working as a creative with various innovative companies like Hasbro, Eden Labs and TypeDev in VR, AR, Game Design & WebGL.

He is passionate about experimenting with technology and strives to create dreamlike, magical moments.
Lume or light-graffiti is a passion that he has been working on with a team of artists and designers, as well as a developer and a robotics engineer.

Lume works with high light frequencies that activate a photoluminescent canvas.

Marie Foulston

Marie Foulston is a leading curator behind exhibitions, installations and experiences that specialise in videogames, play and digital culture. She is co-founder and creative director of Good Afternoon, an experiential design creative agency. Previously she was Curator of Videogames at the V&A where she lead the curation of the headline exhibition ‘Videogames’, was guest director of experimental games festival ‘Now Play This’ at Somerset House and co-founded the UK alternative videogame collective the Wild Rumpus. Across her career she has worked alongside a host of international organisations and leading cultural institutions including the Smithsonian, ACMI, PlayStation, the Design Museum, Netflix, Channel 4 and Nintendo.

Jared Jestr

Graffiti art painter, multi-media explorer. Painting since ’05, his work can be found across the country and the globe. He’s developed an instantly recognisable painting style that transcends traditional graffiti, and seeks to blur definitions and dimensions through his work. Currently his focus is mostly in the studio, and making art in the public space of the internet.

All Caps Are Beautiful (ACAB):

All Caps Are Beautiful is a collection of 360 unique abstract art- works, made by photographing used spraypaint nozzles/ “caps”. This is the first solo show by Jared Jestr, a post-graffiti artist who is transitioning from street to studio and web3.

Stephanie Anderson

Steph Anderson is a game developer with a fascination for the strange complexity of the natural environment.

She hopes to use game technology to explore how we understand, empathise and interface with non-human intelligences. 

Her current passion project, a VR experience called Fungarium, peers into the world of fungal intelligence.

Fungarium uses a blend of fantasy and simulation to help us comprehend the magnificent scale of fungi’s rule over its forest citadel domain.

Olivie Keck

Olivié Keck was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1989. She received her BFA from The Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town in 2011. Tertiary education includes completing a printmaking internship with Warren Editions Print Studio in 2015 and David Krut Studios in 2016. Keck still lives and works in Cape Town. Since her first solo show False Priest in 2014 exhibited at Commune 1, Keck’s work has been shown in many galleries and institutions locally and internationally. Notable solo exhibitions include Selfie Fulfilling Prophecy shown at David Krut Projects in 2016, Drop Dead Gorgeous shown at CIRCA Johannesburg in 2019, In Bloom (2020) and Playing With Catastrophe (2021) shown at 131A Gallery, and ‘Merci Pour Les Roses’ shown at Quand Les Fleurs Nous Sauvent in Paris 2021. Museum exhibitions include works on view at The Irma Stern Museum (2016) and the Zeitz MOCAA (2019). Her two most recent artist books Driving Bad Ideas and Sunday Bed are featured in the permanent collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) Library. Her work is featured extensively in the permanent collections of the Spier Arts Trust and The University of Cape Town. In 2020, she was invited to produce a work for CNN International for a feature focus on contemporary artists creating work in self-isolation. She attended an International Art Residency (AIR) at the Kala Art Institute, Berkley USA in 2016. In 2017 she was invited to attend a second International Art Residency (AIR) at Frans Masereel Centrum, Antwerp Belgium. In July of 2022, she attended Artist Residency Enschede (ARE) in Holland. The colourful and patterned aesthetic of my work commemorates the theatre of human experience, whilst echoing my fascination with contemporary culture as explored through the lens of visual storytelling. My work extracts meaning by remixing a long history of artistic traditions with contemporary signifiers. There are a variety of different artistic mediums and methodologies present in my work, which speaks to my visual curiosity as an image-maker. I believe that embracing and utilizing the interdisciplinary possibilities of different materials, innovative technologies and digital advancement allows artists to adapt and create meaningful contributions in a rapidly changing environment.

Claire Kwong

Claire Kwong connects art and technology to make people move. She works with code to create performances and interactive experiences.

Claire’s artworks encourage people to move, communicate, and touch each other. She creates immersive environments using technology like phones, projection, and motion capture. Through her art, Claire aims to dramatize her own experiences and challenge personal and social boundaries.

Most recently, Claire was commissioned to create a new game for No Quarter (New York, NY). She has also exhibited at international events including A MAZE (Berlin, DE), JSNation (Amsterdam, NL), Beta Public (London, UK), and PlayUK (Belgrade, RS). She also creates live visuals for electronic music shows. Claire received a Masters in Computational Arts from Goldsmiths, University of London, and she lives in New York City.

Claire aims to stage unusual encounters, create visceral experiences, and destabilize your sense of body. She also hopes to make you dance.

Bronwyn Krige & Dionne Macdonald

Masters of the mysterious Bronwyn Krige and Dionne Macdonald take you on a journey through realms of dream in the Tunnels of Glim. Experience an intergalactic jungle festooned with carnivorous plants, authentic automatons, shredding shrubberies and musical mayhem in a fully immersive black light illusion. Afficionados of the wildly absurd, Bron and Dionne have been exciting imaginations and shaking reality for over twenty years at festivals and events all over the globe. Their work has bemused, inspired and even on occasion caught fire.They will be joined by sonic visionary Mike ‘the flaming’ Head on Sounds.

What the Facts? with Devolver Digital

Team Devolver Digital talks through the South African game dev community’s questions about pitching to us, what to do if your pitch is rejected, how we work with our partners, game engines and more.

Juan De La Torre

Juan is a Producer at Devolver Digital. Prior to this role, he served as Co-Founder and Creative Director at Team Gotham (Madrid, Spain), contributing to the development of titles like The Guest (2016) and Solo (2018). His journey in the game industry continued as a Producer and Bizdev at Brainwash Gang, where he worked on games such as Nöngunz: Doppleganger Edition (2021), Laika: Aged Through Blood (2023), and Damnview: Built from Nothing (20??). Throughout his career, Juan has remained dedicated to empowering aspiring developers through participating in educational programs, building events, and offering free mentorship opportunities, always trying to leave a positive impact on the game dev community.

Dominique Gawlowski

Dominique has worked in the creative industries for more than 20 years. Starting out in the artworld and transitioned into music, managing artist’s careers and doing large scale eventing and festivals. And then finally discovered the world of indie games and is currently working as Managing Director of Free Lives and festival director of Playtopia.

Playing Utopia, Playing Dystopia

Why is dystopian science fiction so popular in video games? How can we envision better futures through play? This talk will sample from 20 years of Molleindustria titles and look at the practical utopianism of their next, still unannounced, solarpunk game.

You Will Never Be Funny Again, Said the Liar - Navigating Comedy in Social Media

A look into how Josie destroyed impostor syndrome and went from doing social media for a windscreen wiper company to working with global phenomenon Cult of the lamb. From picking fights with the Duolingo bird that eventually lead to a whirlwind romance with Angry birds , she is now cemented herself as unhinged force to be reckoned with.

Throw it at the Internet and See what sticks

In “Throw it at the Internet and see what sticks” she’ll walk you through Landfall’s journey with community building and marketing from the studio’s first 16 players skype group to their now 1.5 million TikTok followers.

Feeling My Way

‘Feeling My Way’ showcases the design and production of hybrid immersive and interactive experiences with the audience journey and access in mind, creating a myriad of participatory learning opportunities. Using Indulgence, Found Footage and NOMA! as examples of hybrid experiences that demonstrated incremental ways to design what your audience gets to FEEL and DO, this presentation culminates in demonstrating the development of multi-platform gaming experience, The Ground Screams To Whisper. In producing games and interactive experiences in a technocentric and technofetishitic ecosystem, it is my desire for the audience to feel that they ARE an integral part of the experience. Without them, this is all dead, inert, lifeless. “The function of art is to do more than tell it like it is – it’s to imagine what is possible.” – bell hooks.” #imagineradically

Spoiling the Illusion

Reflecting on her recent multichannel installation piece ‘The Grannies’, games curator Marie Foulston invites us to reveal the magic tricks behind the virtual worlds we create and celebrates the performative power of play.

The Art of Terra Nil

The talk has two parts:

1. I describe the winding path that Terra Nil’s art direction took, from pixel art, to full 3D, from Ghibli-esque to being Ghibli’s second cousin, and the various visual design decisions that were made as well as their sometimes unintended ramifications.

2. The other part is in the number of things that became my responsibility as an art lead that I did not expect. Leadership is just another a job: it’s not necessarily a thing that everyone should be aspiring to do, because every role is important.

Stylization: Hacking the Art Pipeline to Build Evocative Imagery

A whirlwind tour of some techniques, tricks, and workflows to create a unique art style for your game without breaking the bank.

Visual World building

Deep dive into how I Visually develop game worlds as a African Art Director in games and How I took a shot at making my own personal project of which is inspired by where I grew up.

Kickflip a Car - Arcade Vehicle Physics Deep Drive

In game development it can be tempting to reference reality, especially when you’re working with complex physical systems like wheel dynamics, transmissions or gear ratios. But reality isn’t always that much fun. The intention of this talk is to show you that embracing silly, arcade-y physics allows you to have greater creative freedom and to design the systems that make sense for your game. Using a handful of equations and a couple of tricks, we will create an arcade vehicle physics system step by step and cover some of the fun and interesting things you can do when you ignore reality. The intention of this talk is to show you by simplifying your systems you can embrace silly, arcade-y or nonsensical mechanics allows you to have greater creative freedom and better align to your intention as a designer.

Thinking Theory: A starter's guide to puzzle design

The detailing of a framework I developed while creating Semblance (and use on our current project) on how to create and think about puzzle design both individually, and in level design. A combination of analysis of other puzzle games, in addition to detailing how it manifested in the creation of Semblance. Explores what puzzles are, how to create them, how to curate them together for levels, and how to overcome common problems when creating puzzle games.

Unity Development Rakes Everyone Steps On

During the course of our porting and co-development work at 24 Bit Games, we’ve had the privilege of getting eyes on a LOT of Unity projects, ranging from indie to AA. As a result, we’ve seen (and made) a lot of avoidable mistakes that have made development harder than it needs to be for us and our clients. This talk serves as an overview of some of the more common missteps we’ve collectively seen/made, why they’ve complicated our lives, and what steps devs can take to avoid them. The intention is to present knowledge and advice that can help developers of all skill levels build their games more effectively. While the talk will have a strong emphasis on the programming/scripting side of things, we will avoid complex comp-sci technobabble wherever possible, and attempt to present technical concepts in an accessible, practical way that anyone with a modicum of coding knowledge can understand and apply.

Invisible threads: Memories and places as stowaways in our creations

As a follow-up to her 2019 Playtopia talk, “Finding a parking spot – navigating IRL in pursuit of a virtual congregation,” Crystal tries to understand what Playtopia’s venue has to do with the shirt you’re wearing, and why it matters. She reflects on how fibres of physical place and memory sneak into her work; fibres that – when you pick at them – unravel epiphanies and existential crises that may or may not be used for creative good.

But who is the audience?

The hypertalk will explore the focus that has been put on production and development (creators) and the lack of attention given to market research and tailoring distribution strategies to align with the target market (audience)

Diabolus In Musica: Solving The Problem of Linearity and Authenticity in Manor Lords

A post-mortem on the OST production of Manor Lords with specific reference to the challenges of creating a video game OST coming from the background of film and television.

Oh No! I Have Fallen In Love With an NPC :(

Love. Infatuation. Affection. Attraction. Powerful emotions that can motivate players. From carefully crafted dialogue to unlikely outfits, creators have used many strategies to sell games and hook heroes. But is there a formula to get you to fall in love with their NPCs? More importantly, can I find it? Jon Keevy catalogues his attempts at making a Roguelike Dating Sim Mash Up.

Its ok to be bad. Its ok to take your time.

Ive been struggling with self worth and imposter syndrome for forever. Recently Ive moved into a place where I feel like I’ve made some headway and Id like to share. I kinda want to put down the idea of comparative assessments of self worth by looking at some examples of what people call success and how varied it is (as well as my personal journey). Along with considering the success that can come from making bad things and how that can be freeing.

Elevating Your Pitch

Discover how to level up your game pitches to funds and publishers with Krista from WINGS, a funding organization who supports diversity in the games industry by investing in games made by women and gender-marginalised developers.

Publishers aren't scary

The developer/publisher relationship is often misunderstood. Who are these people with the money, and what even is a Milestone Review? Sounds scary – but it doesn’t need to be. I’ll talk about what publishers expect, how to get the most out of your partnership, and the most important lesson for good publisher/developer relations: you aren’t enemies.

Publishing 101

This talk will be an overview of how publishing in video games works. I’ll touch on what publishing deals look like, deal terms and some things to be mindful of when signing a deal. 

A Brief Introduction to Storytelling Systems

An introduction to various storytelling systems in games, what kind of effect they’re able to achieve, and what kind of strengths and pitfalls they bring to a game’s development. Knowing more about what’s out there makes it easier to figure out what’s right for your game.

Mechanical Storytelling

To tell impactful stories in games, to make your characters come alive, and allow players to feel their pain and their joy, narrative design must be carefully integrated with game mechanics. This talk demonstrates how this can be done with selected game examples.

The Free Lives Formula For Making Hit Games Part 2

Outlining the theory, philosophy and methodology behind prototyping, idea selection and developing games at Free Lives as an experimental, iterative process that has yielded several hit games.

The Joy of Discovery

A sense of discovery can be one of the most delightful motivators for playing games. What will you find around that corner? How can you use this new ability you unlocked? What if you chose that other option earlier? Let’s talk about how we can give players a sense of discovery in our games, how to relinquish control, what other media can teach us about discovery, and how to embrace discovery in the design process.


We will be talking about our insightful self-publishing journey while also touching on the importance of our positive company culture called Saladism. If it wasn’t for Saladism we would be working as security guards at Ngulube Security Holdings.

Starting From Scratch: Lessons in Prototyping

When we decided to start a game division in our animation studio, everyone told us that the way to go was fast prototyping. Our goal was 12 prototypes in 6 months, but very soon it became apparent that it’s easier said than done. Especially if your studio has never made a prototype before. We’re excited to welcome you into our world of zombie fans, metal detecting rumbas and urinating dogs. Join us as we share our learnings – things to do, things to avoid, and things we’re still unsure about. Are GameJams a blessing or a curse? What is a core mechanic and what is nice to have? How do you balance a game that takes an hour to play? Should you release an imperfect prototype? Is there even such a thing as a perfect prototype? We don’t have all the answers, but we do have stories which can help you avoid some prototyping pitfalls. We’re far from experts, but with each game we get closer to learning from our mistakes, and now you can too.

Gaming Empathy: can games level up community activism?

Can we game activism? As an academic who specialises in creative activism and land justice, I’m really interested in the potential of gaming to bridge two gaps: knowledge and empathy.

With reference to other socially conscious DIY games (You Are Jeff Bezos; Survive the Century), I chart the design process of, and activist and student reception to, my simple game “Wolf River” (placeholder title) an experiment in bridging the knowledge, empathy and imagination gaps in engaging with the realities and frustrations of evictees in relocation camps like Wolwerivier.

How Gamification Can be Merged With Education Studies

Gamification is the integration of game design elements and principles into non-game contexts, such as education, to enhance engagement, motivation, and learning outcomes. When merged with education studies, gamification can offer several benefits for both students and educators.

Love Land the app - supporting young people to safely transition into adulthood

In most countries around the world, young people struggle to access sound information about sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and safety. This has serious consequences for too many young people around the world.
The Taboobreaker association has therefore developed the multi-channel program Love Land, that uses the great potential of learning through play to help young people make a safe transition into adulthood. Love Land is based on UNESCO’s international technical guidelines on sexuality education and consists of an app, website and a train-the-trainer program. The Love Land App is developed by the young, dynamic game design team “Loud Rabbits” from Cape Town. To prove the impact of Love Land, a team from the University of Cape Town (UCT) will conduct an implementation study of the Love Land App. In her presentation, Karin will give an insight into the development process of the Love Land App and explain how elements such as artistic and visual design, storytelling and game mechanics were integrated and used to implement SRH’s sensitive issues in a gamified learning app in an age-appropriate way. In addition, the test results and long-term goals of the app will be presented.

Pixelated Pride: The Rise and Relevance of Queer Video Games

“Pixelated Pride: The Rise and Relevance of Queer Video Games” offers an explorative journey through the evolution of queer games. Tracing back to its roots, this talk highlights iconic queer game designers who brought queer games to the forefront. This talk aims to define queer video games and emphasize the importance of inclusivity and representation within the gaming world. The talk presents notable queer game titles, such as “Queers in Love at the End of the World” by Anna Anthropy and delves into their significance within a South African context. Moreover, “Pixelated Pride: The Rise and Relevance of Queer Video Games” sheds light on various game design methodologies, showcasing how they serve as tools for positive subversion in the gaming industry.”