News Commentary

'Sipa' app maker cooking up something 'viral'

- The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Will they create a Pinoy Facebook?

After drawing raves for introducing the Filipino game “Sipa” to the mobile phone generation, Team Butchukoy is cooking up another application that promises to be viral and very Pinoy.

Oliver Sorrera, member of Team Butchukoy, told philstar.com they are developing a mobile application that is “viral, big and social in manner.”

Geo dela Paz, software developer of the team, revealed that their next creation would be “a social application.”

“We are now creating a social app, but it is still in the prototyping or modeling stage,” Dela Paz said in an interview.

The geniuses behind the “Sipa: Street Kick’ mobile game app" are tight-lipped on their opus.

They hinted that the program would also promote Filipino culture to the technology-savvy youth who, the older generation said, are spending too much time with their gadgets.

“We also have plans for another Filipino-themed mobile game, but it is still in the drawing board,” Dela Paz said.

Team Butchukoy also plans to make more applications about other Filipino street games and Philippine history.

“We want something [that would] deliver the identity of the Philippines through IT (information technology),” Sorrera said.

It started with a kick

Sipa, the game that placed Team Butchukoy on the radar of mobile game aficionados, was a logical choice for software developers who are looking for a concept that is not that complicated, yet very Filipino.

Last year, Team Butchukoy, also known as Team OPS, thought of bringing back to life the almost forgotten Filipino game through a mobile application. The team developed the game for six months before submitting it to Apple for approval. Apple approved the application after a week.

Sipa, which was published on iTunes in December 2011, now belongs to the roster of over 500,000 applications sold in the market. The game can be downloaded for $0.99 or about P41.

Dela Paz said they chose Sipa among other street games since it was easier to make.

“The program was not that complicated to do since it only involves an up and down motion,” he said.

“It’s good to introduce the game to those who are not aware of it because they are too fond of their gadgets,” Sorrera said.

The game features a stout boy sporting a Mohawk hairstyle named Butchukoy who was encouraged by his parents to play Sipa after his playmate Tonyo refused to lend him his toy robot.

Butchukoy plays the game in Philippine landmarks like Rizal Park, Quiapo church, the University of the Philippines and Mt. Pulag.

“Through this game, we can introduce these places to foreigners. We can also bring our being Filipino to the international IT scene,” Sorrera said.

‘Game with a cause’

Julie Tañada, the team’s marketing chief, said Sipa is a game with a cause.

“It’s more than a game, it also teaches values. We felt that there is a beautiful story behind it,” she said.

Tañada said among the values being taught by the game are the close ties with family and friends and awareness of one’s surroundings as seen by Butchukoy’s creation of the sipa ball from recyclable materials.

“Sipa” also proved to be a game with a heart as part of the proceeds from its sales goes to Mighty Minds, a non-profit organization that provides education to 50 high school and college scholars in Pampanga.

Skilty Labastilla, an anthropologist from the Ateneo de Manila University, said the creation of the Sipa mobile game is a positive development as it teaches the youth to appreciate their culture.

“I'm surprised that it only came out now because there are many Filipinos working for international companies to design game apps,” he said.

Labastilla, however, said young people should also play the real sipa since it involves physical activity that is good for the health. The creation of more Pinoy-themed applications, Labastilla said, would help instill national pride among young people.

Will Team Butchukoy’s next opus outdo Sipa? No one knows for now. But no matter how the new software will fare, the team has earned the distinction of blending Filipino heritage with technology – two forces that seem to be competing for the attention of the youth. - Ghio Ong for philstar.com

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