Campus life, together with family, friends and a myriad of domestic animals, filled Tawia’s daily life with adventure and learning, the fundamental building blocks to his imaginative thinking.
When Eyram Tawia was in Class 5, he received a gift of a miniature typewriter from an uncle. That gift was to provide the catalyst for Tawia to begin a lifetime adventure creating comics. With the typewriter, Tawia who had always had an interest in comics, typed out his own comic books in which he developed stories of his own, mostly inspired by the ones he’d been reading. His father, an Art lecturer at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, was his first illustrator as he always bugged him to help bring his characters to life.
Soon enough, his father started to teach him a few things about sketching and it was not long before Tawia began to cross-hatch.
In Junior High School, Tawia chose Art as a major to help improve his illustrations, building on the foundations his father had provided him.
By the time he started Junior High School, he had been exposed to all sorts of video games, a few of which were Sega, Nintendo and Atari.
The gaming experience influenced his comics and improved his storytelling. It also inspired him to create his own video games out of his comics which he started after a brief introduction to computer programming and with the help of Russ Walter’s book ‘Secret Guide to Computers’.
Entrepreneurship came quite easy to Eyram, in fact, he will tell you he was made for it. After high school, he and his friends started a computer services business, teaching computer programming. Their big break came when they helped programme new software for the African Virtual University (AVU) internet café. The software was an internet timer software that prevented students from hacking the system to prolong browsing time. And while in university, Tawia developed another business venture to build computer programmes, after a radio presenter friend of his approached him to develop a radio station management software for him.
After his national service as a teaching assistant at AVU under the department of Computer Science at KNUST, Tawia reluctantly left Kumasi to Accra to start work at Somuah Information Systems.
He had decided on taking the job after failing to secure funds for a CAN 2008 game he had developed.
His father had urged him to get a job and though he had heeded the advice, Tawia had not given up hope on his dreams of starting his game company. Barely two weeks into the job, the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) offered him the job that would change his life. The offer did come as a surprise to him because he had applied to their Trainee Entrepreneur programme but ended up being asked to join MEST as a teaching fellow.
With seed money from MEST, Tawia started his gaming company in 2009 with co-founder Wesley Kirinya, a Kenya- based software entrepreneur and fellow gaming enthusiast. Then known as Leti Games, the company was set up out of the passion to create a unique game studio in Africa that leveraged local talent while building quality games that could compete on the world market. The name ‘Leti’ was derived from the Ewe word ‘Letivi’ which means ‘star’; the star guiding the African Game Development space to success.
They have since broadened the scope of the company to cover other African-themed content, including digital comics and interactive applications targeted at mobile devices and in 2013, rebranded from Leti Games to Leti Arts to reflect this.
Today, Leti Arts is an interactive digital media studio, with offices in Ghana and Kenya that develops cross platform games and comics. The idea behind Leti Arts is to pioneer a new industry—the gaming industry—in Sub-Saharan Africa with a mission to leverage African talent to develop high quality and interactive media games, comics and mobile apps for in-house and third party projects.
Leti Arts’ contribution as the pioneer gaming industry on the continent of Africa has not gone unnoticed; it has won many awards and accolades a few of which include the Africa Top Innovator Award 2008, the British Council YCE Media Awards 2012, the ToppApps Best Entertainment App 2013, the ToppApps Best Developer 2013, the Vodafone App Star 2014 and the Africa Entrepreneurship Award 2015.
With a customer base of 60, 000, Leti Arts continues to strive in its quest to bring rich African stories to a worldwide audience, through comic and game franchises influenced by African folklore. Tawia believes that the game development industry will make a salient contribution to the GDP of Africa in years to come as it employs skills across all disciplines. He is positive that African superheroes will grow big into movies, merchandise, games, comics, theme parks and create a major gaming industry that can rival any other.
Source: Graphic Business