Kopano Ntsoane has taken his childhood love of video gaming and turned it into an educational game-changing device. His business Modern Gaming is slowly but surely on its way to creating the gaming epicentre of Africa with custom designed games for both educational institutions and corporate businesses alike. What it all comes down to, however, is that it is merely a passion he managed to turned into a reality…
Growing up, Kopano lived with his grandmother in the township of Kwa Thema in the Ekurhuleni district. As a kid, video-gaming was Kopano’s favourite pastime. He even turned it into the favourite pastime of the other kids in the community as they were constantly showing up to play on his Play Station 2. This is where the business man he was born to be woke up as he started charging the neighbourhood kids per half-hour to play. “I used to sleep in my bed and there would be knocks on the door for kids who wanted to play. Then I got up and let them, I mean I was getting paid for it in the end!” Kopano laughs. And that is where it all started, in a bedroom in his grandmother’s house with a PS2.
After graduating high school, Kopano’s dream was to go to university and to study Economics. This didn’t quite work out and he was forced to find employment. He started working at local airline, Khulula in the customer service department and later moved on to become a flight attendant. “I hated working. The main thing I wanted was to go to university, but I just couldn’t make that happen,” he explains. After leaving the airline, Kopano remembered the gaming days in his grandmother’s house, which gave him an idea and the next thing he did was starting to draft a business plan. “When I left work, harsh reality kicked in, I needed money somehow. I think that was the greatest motivation I’ve ever felt.”
Still working from his grandmother’s house, Kopano bought a gaming consul and restarted the business of charging people to game. Quickly one consul grew into three. “It was in this time that I started researching the gaming industry intensely to find out what I could actually do with my business,” Kopano explains. After being drawn to the realm of educational games, a friend gave Kopano an educational game that was created in the US and not sold in South Africa. “Looking at the gaming that happened in my bedroom, every time someone came to play a game they started improving. This escalated until they could play the game in one sitting until the end without batting an eyelid. That’s the basics of learning.” Kopano then decided to take his consuls to schools, where institutions took immediately to the concept as it was unheard of at the time. “I’d set up a soccer game at the school and although it seems like a recreational pastime the kids would be learning unconsciously about teamwork, rules, and a vast array of skills that no one would ever have thought of.”
Modern Gaming continued to grow to the point that he employed a team of people that custom designed games for clients. “We can design anything. Something to educate about product development, to team- building, even to science,” Kopano furthers, though he states no matter the subject they always yearn for it to be fun. He refers to their content as “social games” as it is aimed to resolve a type of problem unconsciously. Kopano is even in the process of learning the design process himself.
Joining MEDO has changed the way in which Kopano does business significantly. “One of the greatest things I learnt was the art of sales, and not just the business, but myself as well. I take myself seriously as a businessman now.”
Kopano’s dream is to create African-based content. Content for Africa, by Africa as he puts it, to revolve around issues that is actually being experienced in Africa. “I want that when people think about gaming in Africa, they think of us. The gaming industry is larger than Hollywood, yet in South Africa it is very small. There is so much potential for education, and I want to use it.”