An increasing number of Kenyans are finding it fashionable to while their time away playing games on smartphones, with the craze steadily picking up in the East African nation.
The fascination with the games is gaining popularity as smartphones become the gadgets of choice for most Kenyans.
In public buses, commonly known as matatus, at social events, at home and even at hotels, both the young and the old are playing smartphone games.
Popular games include race for glory, subway princess, puzzles, honour of kings, games of kings, bubble shooter, candy crush, bike races and football.
“Ooh no!” blurted out a well-dressed man who was deeply engrossed in his smartphone playing a game in a public bus along Jogoo Road on Wednesday morning.
There was a traffic snarl up on the road, which had made the matatu move barely 50 meters in about 30 minutes. The man was whiling time away by racing cars on the smartphone.
He was about to finish the game and made a blunder that made him crash out of the game. It is a scene that is common in many public vehicles especially during morning and evening traffic peak time, with commuters seeking to keep themselves busy.
“I play smartphone games because they help me pass time. I have installed the apps in my smartphone and I choose what to play. We are now on long holiday and I have plenty of free time in my hands, I believe the games help me spend my time wisely,” said university student Kevina Achieng.
The games have become a nightmare for some Kenyan parents whose children love them.
Beatrice Were, a mother of two, recounted that she had to install Wi-Fi at her home after realizing her two children love the smartphone games.
“In school they play games on tablets guided by the teachers. Initially, when they came home, they would demand to use my smartphone, and by then didn’t have internet. I had to install internet so that they can get the games online,” she said.
However, having one smartphone brought chaos as her two children, one six year old and the other four year old, would fight to use the gadget.
“I had no choice but to buy another phone so that each plays at the same time. I have, however, restricted the games so that they can also concentrate on schoolwork. During weekend, they play more, week day one hour in the evening is enough,” she said.
In Kenya, there has been concern over online games craze after a teenager killed himself after playing one of the games.
In May 2017, a 16-year-old secondary school student killed himself after playing blue whale challenge, an online game, which was available on smartphone, hours on end.
Two things make the games popular in Kenya, according to Bernard Mwaso, an information and communication technology consultant with Edell IT Solution in Nairobi.
First, he said, is the ease in accessing the games, whose apps can be downloaded from the internet through the gadgets.
Second is Kenyans’ love for smartphones which is making them explore the gadgets to maximize their use.
“Increased use of internet through the smartphone amid declined costs especially following the introduction of low cost bundles by service providers has seen Kenyans spend more time online, including by playing the games,” he said.
At the end of September 2018, the total number of active internet and data subscriptions in Kenya stood at 42.2 million people, of which 41.8 million accessed the service via mobile phones, according to the Communications Authority of Kenya. Enditem