AFRICADE – The World’s First African Games Exhibition in Tel Aviv

The African Studies Gallery presents Africade, the first ever exhibition that focuses entirely on video games from Africa. Africade compiles 7 video from Nigeria, Cameroon, Algeria, Morocco and South Africa. With the exhibition, the ASG joins contemporary art museums worldwide that present video games as a form of art, but this time with a particular focus on Africa.

For Africade, we selected seven games from various African countries in order to give a taste of the flourishing games scenes throughout the continent. The games on display operate in various media – board, mobile, VR, and computer games. They encapsulate a diversity of inspirations and influences and include local African aesthetics and pan-African myths, as well as Occidental and Oriental design traditions.

Africade is curated by Idit Toledano (Chief Curator of the ASG), Shalev Moran (Games Curator for Print Screen Festival) and Ben Myers (Curator of A MAZE. / Johannesburg).

Idit Toledano is the chief curator at the  African Studies Gallery and. PH.D candidate at the Tel-Aviv University School of History and SOAS, University of London. Toledano combines years of academic research and teaching in the field of African arts and cultures with her curatorial work. Her practice strives to stimulate critical thinking and to challenge conventional perceptions on

Africa’s cultures along its history.

Shalev Moran is the Games Program Curator for Print Screen Festival. He teaches Narrative Design for Digital Games at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design. He holds a B.A. from TAU’s Honors Program in the Humanities and Arts.

Ben Myres  is a game designer, writer, punk-pro- grammer and curator from South Africa. He is the co- founder of South African game development studio, Nyamakop. Ben writes at Africade — a blog about the African game culture and curates games for the A MAZE Festival in Johannesburg and is a co-organiser of [Resting] Glitch Face, a Johannesburg experimental games party.

Exhibited games

Aurion – Kiro’o Games, Cameroon

Aurion is a fantasy action game that draws upon African mythology and lore to create a unique world called Aurioma. Its storyline and visuals are enrooted mainly in Cameroonian culture and art, but also in traditions found in many other African countries such as Mali, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and even Egypt. The storyline is designed to acquaint the player with African ancient wisdom. The visuals – garments, landscapes, objects, and other in-game elements – offer players colorful graphics, sceneries and characters that highlight African culture in its unique and fascinating diversity.

The creators of Aurion borrow their game mechanics from JRPG (Japanese role-playing game) – a popular genre centered on adventures in a fantasy world. The original Japanese sceneries and myths have been replaced by African landscape and lore, creating a new aesthetics for adventure games.

After Robot – Shapa Studios, South Africa

The mechanics of After Robot are based on the minibus taxis that dominate the urban landscape in the home country of its designers. The game’s name is driven from a passenger’s instruction to a taxi driver to stop after the traffic light, which most South Africans refer to as a robot. The game places players in the perspective of South African minibus taxi operators, inviting them to share the stressful routine of drivers or owners. The game itself does not make any comment about the taxi industry: it is simply a platform for people to act out what they think of the service’s hardships and business challenges.

I started making the game at a time when I was taking a lot of taxis and realized that a lot of South Africans had very bad things to say about an industry that transports over 70% of the low- to middle-class workers. Most of the negativity comes from people that do not use this service. So I made the game to place the player in a situation where they would be faced with the same pressures that taxi drivers face on a daily basis.

– Designer Tsitsi Chiumya

Broforce – Free Lives, South Africa

The inspiration for Broforce comes from hyper- masculine action films. Pulpy action classics are a universal favorite. Anywhere you travel, you find someone who remembers how cool it used to be to watch Rambo or Robocop as a kid. The bad guys were simply that – bad – and the only way for the hero to stop them was using sheer muscle, bullets and explosives. This made the designers wonder: “Why have [game characters] Bro Hard (Die Hard’s John McClane) and Bromando (Schwarzenegger’s Commando) never teamed up before?!” The “Bro” in Broforce is a highly charged term that means many different things to different people. Nonetheless, the bro in our context is someone who has your back as brothers in arms standing

united against terrorism. Despite its silliness, Broforce functions not only as a parody of action flicks but also as a satire of American foreign policy, perhaps even more potent today than when the game was originally conceived.

Wrestling with Emotions – Team Lazerbeam, South Africa

Wrestling with Emotions celebrates the flamboyant aspect of the pro wrestling world, playfully challenging gender norms and generally confusing unsuspecting players. Its plot revolves around a pro- wrestler’s speed-dating service, and the mechanics echo the tropes of the Dating Simulator genre. Beneath the game’s hyper-surreal, punk exterior, however, it has a very sincere core.

Rangi – Funsoft, Morocco

An atmosphere-driven VR experience, combining simple puzzle and exploration mechanics with fantastic depictions of Moroccan architecture.

Our vision was to make Rangi an “interactive African poem”, so we needed to create a synergy between the music, the visuals, and the gameplay, to make them all contribute to the African universe we were creating. Once the gameplay mechanics started taking shape, it became clear that the blend of colors and lines running through the space would find an inherent setting in the colorful African traditional art and landscapes. The music also had to have a key role  in  pulling  the  player  into  this  mystical  an i n t r i g u i n g  u n i v e r s e  w e  h a d  e n v i s i o n e d .

—Creative Director Fabian Delpech

Lantern of Truth – Diaa ElHak, Algeria

Lantern of Truth is a puzzle game that puts players in the shoes of the Grim Reaper, with magical lanterns able to bring objects from an alternate dimension to life.

Created within 48 hours and winner of the #gamezanga 2016 competition, this game is a perfect example of the global game jam culture: a concise study into mechanics that challenge the players to engage with a specific theme – in this case, the gamezanga theme was “illusion”, which manifests in the titular lamps of this bright little game.

Throne of Gods – Akdogan Ali and Umusu Samson Iruo, Nigeria

Throne of gods is an epic fighting game, made for mobile devices and based on African mythology. In its artistic style, character design and gameplay, it is inspired  by  classic  generic  titles  such  as  Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and Killer Instinct.  It adds a twist, though, by introducing a more casual, touch- screen native control scheme, and using characters based on gods and deities from regions as diverse as Africa can be – Ghana, Mali, Ivory Coast, Angola and Nigeria. The duo behind the game hopes that it will showcase and raise awareness of the magic of African myths, and plan to further develop the characters as the game progresses.

African Studies Gallery // Alrov Tower, floor 22 // 46 Rothschild Boulevard // Tel Aviv 66883 // T: +972 729 2100 //www.africanstudiesgallery.org

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