New Game Aurion Inspired by African Culture

Aurion trades out traditional fantasy tropes to change the way people see Africa.

A combat-heavy role-playing game, Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan, has a structure very similar to classic Japanese roll-playing games (RPGs) like those found on the Super Nintendo. Aurion begins with a young prince named Enzo on the eve of his coronation and wedding day.

He is thrust into trouble as he finds himself tied up in a coup and exiled with his new wife, Erine. Working together and using the mystical energy known as Aurion — not unlike the “Force” from Star Wars — they combat their enemies in an attempt to win back the throne.

Every frame and minute of Aurion is heavily influenced by African culture, from its vivid color palette and character design, to the way the main characters Enzo and Erine carry themselves throughout the adventure.

This influence, however, is more than a mere stylistic choice.

“We [decided] to create a game that can highlight our culture in order to give to our young brothers and sisters some elements of their customs, lore, etc.,” said Sorelle Kamdom, Kiro’o Games Community Manger, noting that African values like perseverance and the importance of building a legacy are a prominent feature in Aurion.

Kamdom is enthusiastic that Aurion’s design can reflect the rich heritage of the African culture and help people associate Africa with more than the bleak imagery of poor, uneducated people and disease.

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To accomplish this goal, the developers adopted the bright, bold stylings of classic African art to convey people laughing, singing, playing and making the most of their lives, despite the hardships they may face.

Aurion is an effort to better humanize Africans — to present the world with a powerful image of the African people as they appear in real life, rather than the dismal images seen in charity commercials and documentaries.

It’s a powerful way to connect people to a culture about which they may have severe misconceptions. The game yields a new, interesting setting and format for the role-playing game, which often traffics in fantasy characters like elves and dragons.

But even more important, Kamdom explained, is Aurion’s goal to unite young Africans with their culture.

“Because of globalization, young Africans are today increasingly far from their culture,” she noted, pointing out that global cultural imperialism and interconnectedness has allowed for the diffusion of cultures through shunning tradition in favor of new ideals.

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Different changes in culture have also led young African people to foster distaste for more classic ways of learning, particularly with reading.

Kamdon cited the notion of “if you want to hide something from an African, put it in a book,” a phrase borne of a major problem with illiteracy in many African states.

Research has shown that adult literacy rates fall beneath 50 percent of the population in several areas, which has resulted in people of all ages not being able to read or write even basic statements about their lives.

Because of this, the team has chosen to connect with people through a modern medium that can be enjoyed with or without reading comprehension.

“We hope that those who will play the game will be able to keep some of these values, which can be very useful for them, either during the adventure or in real life,” Kamdon said

Located in Cameroon, the team at Kiro’o Games has dealt with a great deal of hardship, particularly because video games do not have the same amount of cultural cache that they do in Western countries.

Trouble with skeptical investors, power cuts and what Kamdon calls “the digital divide” are all trials they have and continue to face since Aurion’s development started in 2003.

In that time, they’ve experienced much anxiety and have come close to quitting the project completely. But, to them, the effort to spread awareness of African culture is too important to give up.

The plan is to eventually release Aurion for the PC, but this game is not likely to be their last project. The team at Kiro’o Games plans to use Aurion as a template to build future games that highlight African culture and values.

 

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