Diversity in games.
This day in age, it's quite a divisive phrase (it shouldn't be). Taken at face value, it can (does) mean something as simple as the opportunity for representation of all cultures within the gaming community. In general, I think that's something that should be (must be, for the growth and betterment of the gaming community) encouraged and supported.
With that in mind, I want to highlight games off the cultural beaten path, and today that game is Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan, from Kiro'o Games. The game is self described as "inspired by the old school "Tales of" series, focuses on 2D real-time combat sequences while the narration and its environment both draw deeply from African culture, myths and lores."
To say that I've played many games based in Africa would be false (I'm not sure if The Lion King counts or not).
This game may be a good way to rectify that.
In a Kotaku interview, Kiro'o Games founder Madiba Olivier details some of that culture, myth and lore:
“There’s a universal wisdom to be found in the fact that trials like these show the real humanity of people. For example, Enzo’s battle gear is a [re-imagined] Masai tunic. When you look at some Aurion’s NPCs, you can identify various clothes inspired by many people: the Touareg (Mali), the Yoruba (Nigeria), the Peulh (Cameroon, Chad, etc.). There are a lot of examples but the game’s history remains a fantasy..... The idea was to create an RPG with a ‘shonen-like’ story,” he offered. “The Aurion energy was already based on linking with ancestors, which is something very common in most African traditions.” The game takes place on a world called Auriona, premised on the idea of an Africa that evolved in a different way.... Auriona is based on a fantasy view of what Africa may have been if we weren’t colonized, but it is really another world with another cosmogony (not a Big Bang),” Madiba offers. He says they imagined another world based on the Middle Ages: no electricity, no Industrial Revolution and a lot of magic. “The main idea was to create the lore of the game with another set of mind. We wanted the team not to focus on technological evolution but on ‘artisanal evolution.’ The goal was to imagine the kind of problems a world based on African countries’ inner conflicts and philosophies may have, while keeping it interesting for non-African players too.”
How new of an experience will that be compared to what we've seen before? Video games have introduced us to deep, fully fictional worlds and characters before, so seeing something new isn't the draw; it's the basis in reality that's most appealing. So much of the game will have a basis in a real tradition or style shared by generations of Africans - I'm almost more interested in their response to the game than I am just playing it myself. So much of those nuances will be lost on me, but for those in the know, I wonder how they will feel about their newly found digital recognition.
The real opportunity here isn’t just to play a game and get my fill of multiculturalism at the same time; there is a broader implication when we are able to experience stories and viewpoints from totally new perspectives. Video games are one of the few mediums that allow for that in an interactive way.
We are also opening a door for those stories and experiences to gaming culture. Our player personnel does not stop at North America, Japan, and parts of Europe, so why should our developers? South Korea has made great strides in the last decade of not just producing great game players, but developing games as well. Eastern Europe has created some of the most celebrated games in the last few years and generations of folk lore are being experienced globally.
Is Africa next on the list to create tomorrow’s must-play title?
I don’t know; but what I do know is that if they’re not given the opportunity, then the answer is predetermined.
It’s with this thought that I have decided to purchase Aurion (since I missed the initial Kickstarter). I don’t know if the game will be any good, but I know that I want the opportunity in the future to play and experience stories and games from all over, including Africa.
So, I hope my purchase provides me with a fun game, but I really hope that it encourages and provides an opportunity for this team and others like it to create more games.