Creators Studio
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English
Talk
Everyone
Africa's Legends: Reawakening - Inclusive Video Game Design and Distribution

Short thesis

This talk uses Africa’s Legends: Reawakening, a game designed from the ground up by Leti Arts in Ghana and Kenya, to reflect on how game design can be used to correct media misrepresentations about Africa, discuss current issues, and ignite imaginations of African cultural heritage. It examines the current state of the video game industry in Africa, and how creating quality and meaningful digital entertainment for a mass pan-African market requires technical and creative design innovations.

Description

Gaming culture on the African continent is rapidly rising. For African audiences, video games are a new medium to engage with what has already existed centuries before. African videogame developers must be able to design across cultural boundaries and educate players on new interactive technologies.

Leti Arts’ Africa’s Legends: Reawakening is set across near-future Africa. It is a multiplayer story-based superhero adventure RPG, targeting Ghanaian, Kenyan and Nigerian youth. The different characters in the game represent cultures and mythologies from across the continent. In the game, players travel across Africa playing different, relatable characters. On their way they meet different characters and unravel a huge pan-African conspiracy steeped in current issues, mystery and ancestral knowledge. Players explore serious themes like ethnic violence, drug addiction, misogyny, the lasting effects of colonialism, foreign aid addiction and more.

While the game aspires to global standards of quality and scope, it is inclusively designed to be accessible for our entire target audience – not just the mid- / high-income 30% who can afford smartphones, laptops, or expensive mobile data bundles. It is far more important to reach the remaining 70% who rarely see themselves represented authentically in entertainment media, and rarer still actually own it. We achieve this by making the game playable via SMS, with a core interface similar to 80’s text adventures. Such an interface might suggest a primitive experience, but through its limitations engaging storytelling and multi-user approaches have emerged.

This presentation explores the design decisions made during the development of this game to reflect on broader issues in the African video game industry, such as inclusive development, authentic representation, cross platform storytelling, and unlocking mass audiences. It shows how accessing a pan-African audience requires innovative technical and creative design solutions.