SA high school prodigy's game tops Apple app charts

Brandon Kynoch
Brandon Kynoch

Cape Town – He is not even out of high school yet, but Brandon Kynoch’s mobile game Torus is racking up impressive numbers in the app world.

The 16-year-old game developer from Johannesburg released the game to 100 000 downloads in its first day alone in global Apple app stores. 

Kynoch told Fin24 on Monday that his journey as a game developer began five years ago.

"I first started at the age of 11 and I have always been artistic. I started with graphics design and digital arts, but I later moved into game development. I did this for a few years, focusing on pure gaming developments, and got my renders published in magazines in London," said Kynoch.

The mobile action game is free to download from Apple's App Store, where it has a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars. 

Will to succeed 

Kynoch said the most important factor to his success as a developer lay in his belief in his own projects and his enthusiasm to produce games.

"I do think it’s 99% my initiative and the will to succeed. If you [..] have that you go far. Self-studying, and working on it for more than six years, is what it took," he said.

Asked if there was anything he believed he needed to brush up on, he said he wanted to conclude some past projects he left unfinished.

"I’ve always been doing this for the fun of it, and to learn. I’m completely self-taught, but the game with development was finishing what I started. I will finish Blast [an earlier game] beginning to end. But from there, I just want to continue developing and hope to be very successful,” he said.

He said regardless of where the success of Torus took him, he would like to learn more about computer sciences. This was in response to a question on whether he would sell a gaming idea to a major company, if the opportunity arose, or continue working in the field.

"Even if I get to make the next Minecraft and retire at the age of 19, I would still want to educate myself and study computer science, because that is my passion, and it would be my dream to have a triple A gaming studio in the future, so that is something I definitely see in my future,” he said.

According to a statement from PR group Total Exposure, the game hit the top spot on Free Action Games.

Kynoch taught himself how to programme and design the game.

The success of Torus may seem sudden, but the game was not Kynoch's first project of this kind.

"Kynoch's success with Torus follows on the breakthrough of his first game called Blast, which he developed just under two years before working on Torus," the statement said.

Kynoch also said he was also working on his own company, Hard Graft Studios. He said he planned to develop it into a triple-A game-development studio after he finished school at St. Stithians College in Johannesburg.

"I plan on releasing a few more games similar in scale to that of Torus this year. The number of apps I will develop depends on how successful they are, what profits I can generate and, unfortunately, how busy school will keep me," he said.

He added that after matriculating, he would like to move to move to the United States to study computer science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology or Stanford University, and eventually set up his studio headquarters in America.

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