Interview: Victor Dibia of GidiGames – Part 1.
Victor Dibia is the fast rising developer of the popular android game – Gidigames which was released into the Google Play store earlier in the year and a few upgrades later, it is still receiving rave reviews. Catching up with Victor was not easy and we had to schedule and re-schedule before eventually doing it virtually. It was an interesting ride as we delved into the world of this great developer. Enjoy.
WebTrendsNG: We know you but very few people do. Please tell the general public who you are.
Victor: I’m Dibia Victor … software engineer, young entrepreneur, founder/lead developer for DenvyCom – an award winning web and mobile apps startup company I started in January 2012.
WebTrendsNG: So, before GidiGames, have you worked on any other gaming applications and on which platform?
Victor: Thanks for that Pelumi. So, when I started DenvyCom in January, my initial focus wasn’t exactly games. I started out (the first 3 months) building an android mobile app for the hospitality industry aimed at redefining how customers at hotels, restaurants, clubs etc interact with and place their orders. My first product was an electronic menu and ordering system (iMenu) running on a tablet device. Traditionally, when clients visit a high brow restaurant, they are served with a leather bound menu booklet from which they select their items and communicate them to the waiter. iMenu (an android app running on a tablet device) is designed to replace this , with a host of benefits which include driving sales (users order more when they can see pictures, full text descriptions), automated waiter calls, order placement etc. Several issues including partnership issues, generating rapid third party (hotels, restaurants) buy-in, and general unreadiness of the Nigerian ecosystem fairly slowed down the deployment process. So in April I decided to pivot and focus on apps that depended solely on DenvyCom to reach the end-users. And that’s where games came in. As regards platform, a lot of people ask what motivated my choice of the android platform rather than blackberry or j2me. It was more of leveraging my previous technical expertise. I have previously worked in a research lab in Greece (Athens Information Technology) and my work there involved researching gaming engines, crowdsourcing models and user generated games. During that stint, I also developed a couple of android game prototypes and Gidigames is a product of my experience while there. Technically, Gidigames is my first commercial effort at game development.
WebTrendsNG: Okay. There are very few game developers in Nigeria right now, what would you say is the reason for that?
Victor: Game development is interesting and attractive for many reasons including the fact that only “a few” local game developers exist. In my opinion I would say this paucity is due to some myths/entry barriers. Typically, it requires specific skill sets ranging from graphics design, storyboarding, game logic definition, basic algebra and some skill with gaming engines. Phew … that list already sounds scary. Thus, quite naturally, many developers feel discouraged from foraying into game development by the perceived time/resource investments required. To a large extent, some of these barriers are overrated and I strongly encourage more developers to jump into the waters. Like any other field of endeavor, experience improves skill . I have been priviledged to interact with lots of amazing Nigerian developers especially those that work out of CcHub Nigeria and I believe a lot of amazing results would be achieved if more gave game development a try.
WebTrendsNG: Sure, the very few we have seen have been amazing – you, Truston and of course, Maliyo Games. The changes we noted in GidiGames version 1.1 have been tremendous, how were you able to achieve all that in the little time you have?
Victor: True, lots of work has gone into releasing version 1.1 of Gidigames and I am quite pleased at how far it has come. As founder/lead developer of DenvyCom, I follow the lean startup and bootstrapping model. This means I handle other projects to keep up revenue streams and build my own products (Gidigames et al) on this side. To say the least, this is quite tasking. There are several factors that I would say have helped me stay motivated and fairly focused. First and most importantly, working from a tech hub such as CcHub Nigeria and having mentorship from great guys like Tunji and Bosun helps keep me accountable and focused. Recently, I also received a galaxy pocket device from Samsung during the last developers Parapo Event – an award for best app presented. The pocket is a low end android device with a small screen and was really useful during the rewrite of version 1.1 to support small screen devices. Finally, I try to maintain a disciplined work ethic. As with most entrepreneurs I run 12- 14 hour work days… including some weekends . Of course I use the remaining time to eat and have enough rest :
WebTrendsNG: I am aware that you made use of a lot of feedback while developing version 1.1, how soon can we expect version 2.0?
Victor: Yes, I deeply appreciate all the wonderful feedback I have received thus far! I have decided to be more agile in rolling out updates to Gidigames. Before version 1.1, It took me about 6 weeks to implement feedback. However, going forward I would likely release updates Bi-Weekly until Gidigames becomes more matured. I do honestly realize that there’s still work to be done, there’s a roadmap .. and the end point is success
WebTrendsNG: Great. So outside of development, what do you do to relax?
Victor: Typically I exercise, rest well and try to keep this regular. I am a huge fan of Joel Gasciogne – He is a young entrepreneur and the Founder of the famous Bufferapp.com . He has a pretty cool blog Joel.is which I read regularly and there he discusses his experience including the need to keep a very health rest, work, exercise balance. I sincerely hope I can mirror (and outdo) his successes. I also love music (I play about 4 musical instruments) and I hangout with my sisters and their families during the weekends.
WebTrendsNG: About 4 musical instruments, that’s awesome, which instruments are those?
Victor: A guitar , clarinet, piano, saxophone in order of proficiency. My favourite is the acoustic guitar and I play that best .. With the others, I guess I mostly can make joyful noises:)
WebTrendsNG: :-D, you mentioned sisters, are you the only male in your family?
Victor: lol .. no .. I have an elder brother, he is like a mentor to me. However, my sisters reside here in Lagos and my brother doesn’t. That’s why I get some more sister time these days
WebTrendsNG: Cool. Apart from you, who are the other members of the DenvyCom team? Or is it just you, for now?
Victor: Like you have suspected, its just me for now. It’s an extremely lean (starved startup). Of course, there are plans to scale as things unfold (the only logical way to grow). However at this point in time, I would stick to my current model as it has been very efficient. I do not assert that this model should be mirrored by other startups – on the contrary I do believe in the power of collaboration and consortia. My decision to work alone these past months has also been partly because my training and previous work allows me the luxury to this.
WebTrendsNG: Hopefully, you will let us know when you start recruiting other young talents to work with you?
To be continued… The concluding part of this wonderful interview will be brought to you next week. Keep reading Web Trends Nigeria.