Nigerian soccer joins video game big league as local stars get avatars

LAGOS : A sports fan and computer coder, Nigerian Victor Daniel became adept at soccer video games at university.

But he grew frustrated that they showcased clubs and players from across Europe but not the stars and strips of his native country.

Three years of tinkering and hundreds of lines of code later he remedied that omission, launching what he believes is the first African soccer game – Vikseen Virtual.

It’s a modified version of Japanese game-maker Konami’s copyright-free blockbuster simulation Pro Evolution Soccer, and features 50 clubs and more than 1,400 players from Nigeria’s top leagues.

Though Daniel’s modification has only been downloaded a few dozen times since he launched it in May, it’s already won plaudits on the pitch and on the sofa.

Harrison Austin, a footballer at Ikorodu City FC, a second-tier professional club in Lagos state, said having his own digital avatar could boost his chances of being scouted.

On the sidelines of a training session, Ikorodu City FC owner Oluwatoyin Gafar said Vikseen Virtual would help promote the club.

“It is going to increase funding, it is going to increase the followership, and it is going to create additional awareness,” Gafar said.

Another fan is Lagos gamer Udom Ukeme.

“I like the game because it is my nation’s game. I can see people that I know inside the game,” he said as he and a friend sat on a stripy sofa in his sitting room, smashing the buttons of a video game controller.

Daniel hopes to broaden Vikseen Virtual’s appeal further by introducing teams from across the continent, and including African music and commentators.

(Additional reporting by Angela Ukomadu; editing by John Stonestreet; Writing by Hereward Holland; Editing by James Macharia Chege)

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