From Darkness

From Darkness, an interactive documentary about African refugees

The keyword for the Austrian art group goldextra is “experience.” The group presented its online multiplayer game Frontiers with a sentence that fed this idea: “Don’t just watch, experience the news yourself.” Frontiers had virtual recreations of spaces in the Sahara, southern Spain, and Rotterdam so that players could get familiar with the environments that formed the refugee’s journey. The virtuality of the videogame format acts as a surrogate experience for the player—the second-best thing to actually going to these locations and speaking to the people there firsthand. Goldextra’s latest game dives further into this idea. Called From Darkness, it’s an interactive documentary about the…

Beautiful Desolation

Stare wildly at the mutated giraffes of a game set in far-future Africa

“Set in a distant future in an evocative African landscape … he is not from this place or time …” states the tantalizing blurb on Beautiful Desolation‘s website. Those are the only hints regarding the narrative of the next adventure game from The Brotherhood, the team behind bleak sci-fi horror adventure Stasis (2015) and its upcoming side story Cayne. Implications of dimensional and time travel aside, it’s the isometric landscape of distant future Africa that intrigues the most. It’s a world years in the making, first conceived before and then developed during the creation of Stasis. heads bulging with lumps…


Hey, perhaps don’t set your game in “fantasy primitive africa”

Where and when is the “fantasy primitive africa” of upcoming survival game Voodoo? “You will be one of the founders of civilization,” says Brain in the Box, the Italian studio behind it. Bear in mind that the first humans popped up in East Africa around 250,000 thousand years ago, and civilization has its roots in Mesopotamia and Egypt around 14,000 years ago—not much fantasy there. The trailer for the game also includes the bow and arrow, metal tools, and tribal masks. Having these all in the same place is a collapsing of time that we haven’t had written history long enough to…


The videogame that dares to tackle African politics

Videogames have a problem with how they portray Africa—the continent often appears as nothing more than a stereotypical warzone. The most egregious example is 2009’s Resident Evil 5, which included an unnamed African locale with a conspicuously incensed mob united under an unconvincing explanation of undeadness as an excuse for white protagonist Chris Redfield to shoot every local he sees. A more recent slight was the Call of Duty: Black Ops II (2012) mission” Pyrrhic Victory”, where combatants of the Angolan Civil War are portrayed as machete-wielding maniacs charging at each other in a dusty battlefield. The portrayal was so…


A videogame is being used to humanize Dakar City’s child beggars

If ever a title exemplified the ability games have to comment on important issues, it’s Senegal’s Cross Dakar City. Essentially an updated version of Frogger in the vein of Crossy Road, its goal is simple: you are a young boy named Mamadou trying to cross the various streets, railroads, and rivers of Senegal’s capital city, Dakar, without running into any obstacles along the way. Unfortunately, traffic is indifferent to you, and you’ll have to dodge any number of vehicles, trains, and even bombs just to get home. This is because, as Mamadou, you are a talibé, or child beggar, and…


Beautiful African fantasy RPG Aurion comes out April 14th

In 2011, Elder Scrolls took players to the overtly Scandinavian nation of Skyrim. This week, Fire Emblem Fates will welcome Western players to the heavily Japanese Hoshido. And now we know that, on April 14th, 2016, Africa will finally get it’s due when Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan opens up its Cameroon-inspired planet of Auriona. Aurion aims to do for Cameroon what Never Alone (2014) did for Alaska’s native Iñupiat people. It’s to be the first installment in its local developers’ planned Kiro’o Tales, which hopes to advocate for African culture through games, comics, and cartoons. Last September, Aurion earned $50,000 in a…


How a smartphone game is helping to fight against malaria in Kenya

There are games that purport to have life-and-death stakes, and then there are games that are actual lifesavers. Mosquito Hood falls into the latter category. The game, which was first released by Kenya’s Momentum Core in 2013, challenged players to swat pesky mosquitos in progressively more difficult challenges. “Malaria is transmitted among humans by female mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles,” the CDC explains. Temperature and humidity are crucial factors in the development of the parasite, which helps to explain why outbreaks are clustered in certain localities, including Kenya, where the BBC reports that the government pledged to “to donate one…


Finally, African fantasy is getting its own gorgeous RPG

If you were to rifle through the annals of videogame history you’d never guess that Africa is the second largest continent on the planet. There’s a distinct lack of African stories, characters, and art represented in the medium. Which is a shame when you consider how rich Africa is with history, language, people, traditions, myths, architecture, and so on.   The reason for Africa’s absence is obvious: there aren’t many Africans making videogames infused with their culture and stories that reach a global audience. What we’re familiar with, instead, is reappropriation by blockbuster titles that only use the ambiguous setting of…


This is the Battle Against Ebola Simulator 2014

Seattle-based med-tech startup Shift Labs held a hackathon last month where a mix of 40 game designers and clinicians collaborated on a simulation that replicates an ebola treatment center in Liberia. The WHO-endorsed simulation could be used to prepare health workers for the rigorous procedural stressors they would face in West Africa, where every action has to be appropriately measured to avoid infection, right down to removing a hazard suit’s gloves (Of which there are two layered sets that both need to be cleaned and purified in chlorine.) The simulation is less geared toward mental and emotional preparedness, which it…