Q&A with digital storyteller, Limpho Moeti

Video game developer and podcaster Limpho Moeti chats online gaming, 'Bad Form' and playful media

07 February 2019 - 13:07 By Carla Lever
Gamer and podcaster, Limpho Moeti.
Gamer and podcaster, Limpho Moeti.
Image: Supplied

Storytelling can exist in many forms - you don’t have to write a book to tell a story that engages people. Why is it important that we recognise stories - and storytellers! - in all their forms in South Africa?

Representation in media is incredibly important, especially for marginalised people who don't often get to see positive role models who look and sound like them. We also need variety in the stories we are telling and how we tell them. For innovation and growth to happen we need to create more representative spaces.

You’re involved with two ways of telling stories through technology: video games and podcasts. How differently do people engage with each of the forms?  

Podcasts feel more personal, more emotional and more passive sometimes.  With our podcast, my friend and I share a lot of real stories from our lives that can help others avoid making the same cringey or harmful mistakes we did, but the listeners don't have as much ability to affect the story while listening. With games, I feel like participation is more active and inquisitive: you're exploring a world and having a direct impact on it as you play. 

Tell us a little about the podcast ‘Bad Form’ that you create with your friend, Anja Venter-Rausch. What made you start one?

We had a ridiculous amount of fun together whenever we hung out and we thought that maybe people would enjoy listening to us as much as we did. Surprisingly we were right! We were figuring out our lives and we wanted to create something that would help others navigate the overwhelming, magical and sometimes terrifying world of adulting, but in a fun way.

What do you and Anja like about podcasting?

We like the freedom to experiment with different formats. I like the fact that it's a medium that can create an atmosphere of closeness, so when you listen to it, you feel like you're in the room with the podcasters and talking. I like the space for sincerity and openness it creates.  

You have worked a lot in the online gaming world, where people craft interactive story experiences through technology. Can you tell us a little about some career highlights so far? 

Definitely doing a talk in Berlin last year about the Games as a Subversive art - that was an incredible experience! Being part of the team that put the Playtopia Festival together was also phenomenal.

Playtopia refers to itself as a "playful media festival." What a great tagline! Can you tell us a little about what that means?

Playful media is another way of looking at how we interact with tech in fun, creative and innovative ways, but in a more curious and almost childlike way, where we push the boundaries of what can be done within tech and art and explore how they interact within gaming, digital art, hardware controllers. But the experience always needs to be fun!

South Africans suddenly seem to be leading the field of game development. What do you think has been the magic that we've brought to the industry?

I think South Africans are incredibly hard working, and very talented. I learnt by seeing how hard people worked, how smart they worked and how they weren't afraid to take risks and try new things. I think those are traits many great developers in South Africa have. 

Do you think tech - whether podcasts or games or mobile phone stories - can engage older people, or is it just successful with youth? 

I know they can. I think we need to throw away the idea that older people aren't already engaging with tech in meaningful and interesting ways. Tech is more accessible and inviting to the older people (though I feel old at 28 so what do I know?!)

If people are interested in telling stories digitally, whether through games or other forms of tech, how can they get involved in what you do?

You just start doing it at home with whatever you can.  With ‘Bad Form’, Anja and I started off by recording ourselves on the phone and playing back short clips to see if our idea would work. And the same is true for gaming – a lot of the developers would make prototypes at home and go to what we call jams, or places where people gather together to share ideas and play. There’s a lot of free programming for games that are easy to learn. The only way to get involved is to start making things and then getting involved in the gamer community by going to meetups, events and jams.