This article is the first in a series of Tunisia Live exclusive stories on Tunisian start-ups.
Walid Sultan Midani, founder of Digital Mania, an independent video game studio in Lac, Tunis, has always loved playing video games. Now he has hired a team of eight people who are developing three of his games which will be on the market in 2012. He says the Tunisian Revolution and the departure of the klepto-cratic Trabelsi family from Tunisia inspired him to start his company.
“Before, you would worry that if your business got too big the Trabelsis would take it from you but now the glass ceiling is broken.”
After spending the past two years working in a garage with friends, developing ideas for games Walid started Digital Mania one month ago to bring his first three computer games to market.
Since the one school in Tunisia dedicated to the design of video games is only a year-old most of his employees are self taught and highly motivated. ”We just loved playing games, and after spending years playing them we looked on the internet to see how video games are made,” explained Walid.
Digital Mania has one game that has already been developed. Batbout (“fat guy” in Tunisian dialect), will be available on all smart-mobile platforms and is set to be launched before the Christmas holidays. The game will be similar to the hit German smart-phone game “Tiny Wings” except instead of featuring a bird gliding through hills the game will feature an overweight guy on a bicycle traveling through time from the pre-historic era to the future.
A second Digital Mania developed game, Sel3a (“Dude” in Tunisian dialect) will be an arcade game available for the Xbox and PlayStation in March. The game will be available both in Tunisia and abroad and will feature a character named Sel3a who will have a soccer ball as his weapon. The scenery for the game will start in Tunis and Sel3a will fight bad guys in different levels traveling over five continents. Spreading the best aspects of Tunisia to the world through games is important to Walid and Sel3a will eat the Tunisian specialty, lablabi, in the game.
Walid is certain that Batbout and Sel3a will be a success, but in case they are not, he has a social media game available for all platforms in the works that he is sure will be a hit. While the game is still in the early development stages it will be a bigger hit than Farmville according to Walid.
Before Walid was developing video games he was organizing video game competitions. He started a competitive gaming tournament while he was a student at the ESPRIT Engineering School in Ariana in 2004. The tournament first spread to other universities and then the entire Tunisian game playing public. After he graduated in 2008 he spent a year of intense video game design study from 2008-2009 before he began the project that led to the launch of the Digital Media company.