Kenyan gaming startup Usiku Games has unveiled an amateur football mobile game to promote outdoor physical activities and encourage sportsmanship among youths in East Africa.
Dubbed Footah, the mobile football game aims to transpose what the youth learn from the physical football pitch to a virtual gaming space as they continue to learn critical life-changing values such as fair play, self-confidence, sportsmanship, teamwork, discipline, and social diversity.
The mobile game was developed through a public-private partnership between GIZ Regional Project “Sport for Development in Africa” (on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, BMZ) and Usiku Entertainment Ltd. The main objective of the game within the framework of the #GamingForGood approach is to promote digital and social skills of players as well as physical fitness and technical sports skills.
“This public-private partnership will go a long way to helping grow sports and outdoor physical activities in Kenya. Sports has been identified as a major platform for resolving some of the social issues facing today’s youth such as crime, unemployment, and violence against women. We recognize that physical activities and sports have holistic development benefits for children and youth.” Kristin Richter, GIZ’s Regional Manager for the project said.
Footah allows players to develop their personal player card profile in the game, featuring their stats and self-selected profile picture. They are then able to create a team including different player cards of other players around them, i.e. their friends and other users within the game, bringing in the aspect of healthy and fun competition with togetherness.”
Players go through daily matches against each other, increasing their stats by training, which is done via playing a series of minigames combined with information on physical activity (number of daily steps) collected through integration of Google Fit.
Speaking during the launch of the mobile game at Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA), Jay Shapiro, CEO of Usiku Games, said Footah has been creatively designed to influence the youth on different positive themes that bring about fun via a sport that is loved and popular amongst the youth – football.
“The minigames are fun, accessible, and encourage the players to get up off their sofa and move around to boost their energy inside the games, this is where the Google Fit integration comes in,” added Mr. Shapiro.
Google Fit is a free health-tracking platform developed by Google for the Android operating system, Wear OS, and Apple Inc.’s iOS.
“Google Fit helps Footah fans to measure their fitness goals, promoting a healthier lifestyle and regaining their energy stats within the game. Interestingly, it is not possible to succeed in the mobile game without actively getting outside and actually exercising “IRL” (In Real Life). That’s the power of integrating the digital game with the real-life physical exercise thanks to the Google Fit feature,” explains Mr. Shapiro.
It is worth noting that the Google fit feature in Footah does NOT store any of the user’s personal data in the game. The integration provides a confirmation of activity simply as a means to increase the players’ stats and motivate/coach players to a healthier and more active life:
Today, mobile gaming accounts for approximately 57 percent of total video game revenue worldwide. And even with the adoption of 4G and 5G networks, mobile gaming is gaining popularity in remote parts of Africa because of faster broadband and availability of low-cost data.
The game is targeting youth between 15 and 25 years of age.