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Meet Natasha, a game developer from Zimbabwe who designed and developed an adventurous warrior emoji game called FaceFury.  Get to know Natasha, the challenges she has faced being a self-taught game developer, and what inspired her to develop a game about saving emojis and avoiding spiders!

Tell us a bit about yourself, Natasha.

My name is Natasha Chiwara, and I am a self-taught game developer and designer. I am a cynophilist (dog lover) and TV presenter at Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).

My game, FaceFury was one of the 8 selected games in Africa to be a part of the Afro game immersion. The event aired during Paradise Games’ Feja 4 on the 4th of December 2020.

What did you use to create Face Fury?

I used Unity, C#, and Inkscape. Unity was mainly for designing the game scenes and for the code I used C#. Inkscape played the role of drawing and designing emojis.

What challenges did you face creating Face Fury?

I faced a lot of challenges creating the game because I didn’t go anywhere to study animation, coding, and everything, I relied on online books and tutorials. So when I had an error, it would sometimes take weeks or months to solve them! I remember sleeping around 3 AM working on an error when I was doing my A levels. The error only froze the game whenever mobile data or WIFI was on and I remember trying to change my code a hundred different times for months! I was about to lose hope but I was finally able to fix it so yay!

Why did you make your own emojis for the game? And can we find them anywhere?

Yes, I made my own emojis and it was super fun, especially designing the warrior emojis. I made them on my own because I wanted them to best match the storyline of the game, where warrior emojis are prepared for battle, and I couldn’t find them anywhere else.

Mr. Ignatious Nyongo, executive president at the Zimbabwe Association of Inventors, also encouraged me and believed that I could create something of my own and for that I’m thankful.  And no, the emojis are not available anywhere else at the moment.

What was the process like for coming up with a storyline for FaceFury? And why spiders????

I remember the first story that I came with was totally different from the one that’s now there. I came up with twisted versions each and every day until one morning I just woke up with the idea of warrior emojis and I just took a piece of paper and wrote it all down. The story was influenced by my love for emojis and how I hope to see them transition.

About the spiders, that is actually a crazy story. The original drawing was meant to be a Covid 19 virus, but when I was working on the drawing, my little brother who is 5 came and saw the it and he said: “Tata that’s a really huge and scary spider”. I laughed because of all the effort that I was putting in to draw the virus for this other project. I then redesigned them to make them proper spiders and add them to the game.

You took part in AMAZE Hyper Talks at Jibambe Na Tec. How was it being involved in the event?

Yes, I took part in the festival. I got to see different types of great games and it was a wonderful opportunity. I got to share my story and experience with FaceFury.

What did you learn from the other speakers at the event?

I learned about different types of games and how they would make a difference in society, for example, the educational games for children and I also got a glimpse of the Masai culture through the game MAASAI MKALI which was so cultural and awesome!

What would you like to see more of in the African game development scene?

I would like to see more diversity. Online multi-player games being made by African game developers, I think that would actually be great.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us? A fun fact?

When I feel like drinking chocolate milk, I can move around in each and every shop in the city for hours in search of my favourite and specific chocolate milk from Dendairy because it’s just so good lol.

Play FaceFury by Natasha here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tasha.facefury&hl=en&gl=US

Watch the Jibambe Na Tec HyperTalks below. Natasha’s talk begins at 57:14.

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