Wendi is a game developer and game writer whose first game development experience was in Enter Africa, a project by the Goethe Institut. She has worked on Unplugged 2121 and the Busara board game, which were both Enter Africa projects. Wendi has also worked on projects such as Memory Hunters, Lowela: A stitch in time, and Keza 3D Game as a Game Writer. Get to know Wendi and how she gets at it in her work.
Tell us about yourself Wendi
My name is Wendi Ndaki Mutisya. I am a writer and visual artist who is passionate about the fusion of art and technology. I coined my social media handles after them for this reason, and if you search Wendi Art IT or @wendiartit, you will find me. The thought process behind this is that it is pronounced as ‘Wendi at it’ to maintain some form of consistency in all that I do. I love interacting with gamified solutions, and in the spirit of being at it, I have been learning German on Duolingo, which is a gamified language learning app for a little over a year now.
It is interesting how I found myself in the gaming industry as I had initially wanted to focus on film and animation because I love animation, and with my background in technology from United States International University Africa (USIU-Africa), and art from St. Georges Secondary School, it seemed like the most natural thing for me to want to do. But life has a funny way of directing one’s path, because it was my mentor Ng’endo Mukiii -an award-winning Kenyan Animator- that pointed me towards the direction of game development around the year 2017.
I had just finished my internship at Ng’endo Studios when she sent me an email about this 2-year project called Enter Africa. It was about gamifying African cities, and it would be run by 15 African Goethe Institutes. Long story short, I applied for the opportunity, got in and that is how I kick-started my career in the gaming industry.
You’re working on a number of projects right now. Could you tell us about them?
In the capacity of a Game Writer at Jiwe Studios, I’m currently working on a gamification project called Kura Yako Sauti Yako. It is a civic awareness campaign in partnership with the US Embassy which is intended to engage Kenyan citizens in their civic rights and their duties as a citizen to shape the future of Kenya!
I am also working on a game whose title is yet to be set but is inspired by Wangari Maathai, who was a lady of many firsts. She was the first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, she was the first female scholar from East and Central Africa to receive a doctorate (in biology), and the first female professor ever in Kenya. We are focussing on her legacy as a Mama Miti – Swahili for Mother of trees, as she has led the planting of over 30 million trees in her lifetime.
Finally, I am part of a team called Hack Circle. We were formed during the Hack Ur Culture Hackathon 2020, and together we went on to make notable achievements such as winning an award for most compelling project and winning a grant by the Goethe Institut to create a digital version of the Strictly Silk event, an all-female dance party which has been known as a physical safe space for women and non-binary people.
What is your favourite project that you’ve worked on in the past?
My favourite project would be a gamified AR solution that my team and I created during the all-female XR Hackathon by BlackRhinoVR earlier this year. As part of the Kenyan gaming industry and as a former IT student, I am used to working in groups filled with men, and I enjoy it. However, the experience at the Hackathon was sublime, I got to work on Tech solutions with fellow ladies and it felt amazing! On top of that, our project got awarded second position!
What was your introduction to game development like?
My introduction to game development was purely by chance. I had mentioned my love for gamification solutions like Duolingo to my mentor, I was interning for her at the time because I wanted to get into animation. However, once I was done with the internship and I was trying to figure out what to do next with my life, Ng’endo – my mentor – sent me an email that has since changed the trajectory of my life.
The email was about a gamification project by the Goethe Institut that was dubbed Enter Africa. I was excited! I applied and got in. That is how my journey in game development started, through a little nudge from my mentor and a lot of assistance from the Enter Africa team.
How did you get into game writing?
I’ve always loved writing, and was writing on my blog for well over 5 years before I started getting paid for my writing. Through Enter Africa, I got to meet a lot of key industry players in Kenya and across Africa. It is through these networks that I started approaching people with my offering as a writer. The first person I approached was Douglas Ogeto, the co-founder of LudiqueWorks and I have been getting clients ever since!
What are some of your favourite games you’ve played?
I am not much of a gamer but I love engaging with gamification solutions, and as I mentioned before, I recently finished one year of consistent daily language learning on Duolingo where I learned German. I also learned touch typing through another gamification solution called Mavis Beacon.
What are some things you’re looking forward to in the Kenyan game development scene?
I’m looking forward to seeing the many Game Development startups in the country develop into fully-fledged, self-sustaining businesses.
What would you like to see more of in-game development in Africa and globally?
I would like to see more structured and paying roles within the game development industry. Many people that I have interacted with have day jobs and game development is treated more or less like a hobby which is something that needs to change.
Anything else you would like to tell us? A fun fact about yourself?
My name Wendi is not English like many would assume. It means free will and love in Kamba, my mother tongue, and in various languages spoken in Kenya. I love elephants and I was happy to find out about an elephant called Wendi like me; Wendi is an Imenti Forest Elephant who was found in a swamp near the heavily deforested Imenti Forest. When she was found on the 18th of September 2002, it was apparent that she was only a few weeks old. Since 2002, Wendi has grown into a beautiful and strong elephant and is currently located in Ithumba.
❤️ Adopt Wendi the elephant here: https://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/orphans/wendi
Learn more about Kenya’s location based game entry for Enter Africa, Unplugged 2121: Conquer The Enemy Within, here.
Image Credit: Steven Tu
Learn more about Enter Africa here
Visit Wendi’s website here: www.wendiartit.com