Masanga puts Zim gaming, animation on world map

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Rodney Masanga

BY TENDAI SAUTA

CREATIVE director and founder of Dream Box Creative Production Company, Rodney Masanga was part of the 21st edition of the Zimbabwe International Film Festival, where he taught film animation and drawing.

The festival made a return after a two-year hiatus due to funding constraints and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the festival, cartoon characters such as Hawkmouth, Robo, Jack Power and Firestorm Crusher were animated into a children’s scripted and directed film which Masanga and his team edited speedily.

NewsDay Weekender caught up with Masanga, who shared his journey into the world of gaming and animation.

Brief profile

“My name is Rodney Masanga, born and raised in Bulawayo. I am the creative director and founder of Dream Box Creative Production Company. Dream Box exists for the sole purpose of driving Africa forward through digital experiences.

“Professionally, I am a psychology graduate who has always had an affinity for the creative industry, so it was only a matter of time before the two roads merged.

“Collectively, with years of experience in animation, gamification, e-learning, web-based systems, and virtual reality, we have the capability to blend skills across content, data and digital media in an always-evolving combination of digital expertise.

About Dream Box Creative production

“Dream Box is a creative production company which crafts amazing experiences for marketing and learning using technology.

“Our projects have included virtual reality experiences at trade shows and events, gamified e-learning platforms for corporate training and induction, publishing companies and organisations as far as Ghana.

“We are industry leaders in animation, having won awards and nominations across the world from Silicon Valley, Amsterdam, Belgium, Scotland to Trinidad and Tobago, Zanzibar, Nigeria and Johannesburg. We also do film, having successfully created exciting web and television shows.

Philosophy for animation, gaming

“Our philosophy is embedded in our goal to help translate Africa’s ambitions into practical sustainable practices that empower Africa with particular focus on its women, children and persons with disabilities, thereby helping drive the continent forward inclusively.

“To achieve this, we believe in protecting and advancing African values and interests within a global community through awareness and pioneering of ideas as well as technologies that educate and empower Africans.

“We explore sustainable, people-centric, and socially valuable production models that feature representation across the production cycle.

The catalogue

“Our catalogue features a lot of educational and awareness animations focusing heavily over the past two years on COVID-19 education and awareness. There are over 20 animations we have been commissioned to create in that regard alone.

“We also have work that focuses on persons with disabilities, HIV awareness and education, financial transparency, women empowerment and a bit of African culture and fantasy.

Winning at European Games Festival

“It was the Nordic Game Discovery Contest 2020, where we had the pleasure of representing Zimbabwe at this exciting, competitive challenge where selected game projects were showcased live in pitch competitions at events across Europe.

“We managed to come second in the semi-finals with our game Xoli and the World of Tomorrow, a 2D platformer game designed to help children and adults deal with loss  of a family member due to
COVID-19.

“The game is based on a seven-year-old girl who is dealing with life after the death of her parents to COVID-19. Users are required to help her through stages of her grief as she battles the monsters of sadness, depression, anger, frustration, anxiety and fear.

“This exciting and different 2D action platformer that has its foundation on the principles of acceptance and commitment therapy, a form of psychotherapy and a branch of clinical psychology.

“By the way, my actual qualifications are in psychology so that played a big role in the development of the game which is released in chapters and still ongoing.

Teaching adult film makers

“The only reason Dream Box exists is to empower and drive Africa forward through digital experiences — teaching adult film makers animation falls under this mandate as funding and time permits.

Successes

“We have had a lot of small wins from across the world along our journey which includes nominations and awards in Amsterdam, twice in Silicon Valley, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Scotland and Lagos.

“The most significant was our first nomination for an award at the Amsterdam Animation Festival back in 2015, it steered us on our path and gave us the confidence to continue doing what we do, get better and empower others along the way.”

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