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Photo Series: Nigeria’s Video Game Culture

In his photo essay “Lagos Gaming,” Nick Hagen documents Nigeria’s tight-knit video game community.

“Though not widely thought of as a technology hub, Lagos, Nigeria has a small but passionate video game playing community,” says photographer Nick Hagen. The American documentary photographer had a chance to document Lagos’ gaming scene while in Nigeria working with the African Artist’s Foundation, an arts organization which puts on events like LagosPhoto, the country’s international photography festival. Here, Hagen shares more about the gaming community in Lagos:

“Consoles and games are expenses that most players cannot afford and Nigeria’s internet infrastructure is generally weak and unreliable, making online gaming difficult. Because of this, local play in gaming centers is the only way that many can experience video games. Local play creates a tightly knit community of gamers in Nigeria. This is in stark contrast to the gamers of the west who are physically alone and randomly assigned to players from across the world during online play.

"With browser and smartphone applications, a small group of programmers and developers are distributing games with content that is thoroughly Nigerian. This is important as original interactive media from Africa, let alone Nigeria, is new and not yet wide spread.”

Hagen’s photo essay documents diverse communities of gamers in Lagos, ranging from “competitions in upper-class gaming centers, gamers together in lower-class establishments, a team of game developers debating and creating Nigeria’s gaming future.”

Find more of Nick Hagen’s photography at his online portfolio.

Seyi Olanite sits in his gaming center in Festac, Lagos, playing Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 against a friend. At Knightz Gaming Center, customers can play any of the games Olanite has for the equivalent of $0.63 per hour.

Lagos gamers cram into Knightz Game Center to take turns competing in Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 in Festac.

Seyi Olanite texts while playing Burnout Paradise on a 3D television with a steering wheel Xbox 360 attachment against a friend in his Knightz Gaming Center in Festac, Lagos.

Boys take turns playing practice rounds of Street Fighter X Tekken in the middle-class neighborhood of Festac before a tournament.

Major Gaming League posters taped to the side of a Game Truck during a competition day.

Yusuf, an owner of another gaming center in Festac, plays his PS Vita outside of Knightz Gaming Center in Festac, Lagos.

Abdul is a friend of Seyi Olanite and assists in setting up the TVs and consoles for a day of play at Knightz Gaming Center.

Abdul plays the 2013 release of Tomb Raider in the Knightz Gaming Center in Festac, Lagos.

Seyi Olanite stands in front of his Knightz Gaming Center which he has been running since 1999.

Shina Ajulo is one of the founders of the video game developer and animation company, Sporedust, located in the north of Lagos.

Sporedust programmers and illustrators review and share opinions about the progress of a rendered cell phone model.

Team members excitedly cram around a computer monitor to watch trailers for the Level-5 game, Wonder Flick.

Sporedust programmer and animator Segun Kolade shows his personal game project in his office. A descendant of the Yoruba People, Kolade is centering his game’s story around a Yoruba legend.

Sporedust employees heatedly discuss the Final Fantasy video game franchise.

Sporedust team members gather to review 3D models.

The facade of a gaming center in Ijora-Badia.

Men in Ijora-Badia bet on matches of FIFA played on Playstation 2s.

Children play God of War on a PlayStation 2 in a small gaming center in Ijora-Badia, a Lagos slum.

Brothers play Super Smash Bros. Brawl as their mother watches at Game Shack.

Four games of one-on-one FIFA play out simultaneously during a tournament at Game Shack in the upper-middle class neighborhood, Lekki Phase One, Lagos.

A Lagos gamer plays Street Fighter IV on his arcade joystick pad during the final phase of a tournament held at Game Shack in Lekki Phase One.

A gamer’s reaction after being eliminated from a FIFA tournament held at Game Shack in Lekki Phase One, Lagos.

Gamers compete in a FIFA tournament at Game Shack in Lekki Phase One, Lagos.

A Lagos gamer wins first place in a Street Fighter IV tournament held at Game Shack in Lekki Phase One.

Street Fighter IV tournament winner.

One player takes a phone call during a warm-up round of FIFA before beginning a Major Gaming League tournament held in Ikeja Mall.

Lagos gamers compete in Pro Evolution Soccer during a Major Gaming League tournament held in Ikeja Mall.

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