[Gamescom Asia 2022] Culturally Infused Games Roundtable on Adding SEA Culture in Games


As Gamescom Asia 2022 returns as an offline event, we had the opportunity to attend a panel on the culturally steeped gaming agenda: how to spice up your game with unique flavors from the game. Southeast Asia (SEA).

The panelist during the discussion consists of Brigitta Rena Estidantico-founder and artistic director of Mojiken Studio (Indonesia), Saqina Latifmanaging director and co-founder of Persona Theory Games (Malaysia), Hannah DonatSenior Marketing Events Manager & Brand Coordinator at Secret 6 (Philippines) and Arif Jeancontent creator (Malaysia).

The panel is moderated by Andreas BetscheFounder/Editor of Virtual SEA.

With more and more games flooding the market, indie game titles tend to have to do something special to catch players’ attention. And one of the most important ways to do that would be to infuse culture into the games they’ve made, and the SEA region is no stranger to that.

When we talk about the goal of infusing culture into games, Sakina mentions that they are very aware of the intent of their game. One of the examples being Persona Theory Games’ latest title – Kabaret, where the game focuses on the story of different mythical beings from South Asian folklore. South East.

Games steeped in SEA cultureRein from Mojiken Studios in particular says that they need to fill players with something fresh and that for culture-infused games to be greatly enjoyed, it’s not just about food or anything, but about the very sincere feeling that you would encounter in your daily life from a particular culture.

With players coming from different parts of the world, each with their own culture. More often than not, people from other cultures will find it difficult to understand the various references from different cultures.

Games steeped in SEA cultureHannah think it’s important for them to adapt according to the player base. Using Project Xandata, the multiplayer FPS title from Secret 6 as an example, when they added a Filipino menu in one of the stores on a new map, it generated a lot of hype from Filipino gamers . But on the other hand, players of non-Filipina origin scratched their heads as they didn’t know him.

When discussing cultures, it is important to remember the rich history that forms the foundation of different cultures. While most people tend to associate local folklore with culture, sensitive topics such as social issues cannot be ignored.

Games steeped in SEA cultureSakina and his team tend to explore these kinds of sensitive topics that play out in SEA, with one of their games exploring the very serious issue of baby dumping. It was one of the issues that no one wanted to talk about, but it’s not going to stop anytime soon. And so, Persona Theory Games wanted to explore this particular question and highlight the importance of one life.

And with Kabaret, they also included some of the history of Malaysia when the Japanese occupied the country that was then Tanah Melayu. And while Sakina unsure how the Japanese would think of it, they felt it was important that it be included in the game since the main purpose was to show the struggles of SEA.

Saqina mentions that as a team, they wanted to face their history and prejudices together, but that might not be an easy thing to do. There is certainly no right or wrong in the game, it all depends on how you would view it.

cabaret

Creating a culture-infused game might seem easy on paper, because it’s just a matter of game developers integrating their culture into their games. But in reality, this is far from the case.

From the point of view of Sakina, it is important for game developers to know the intentions of creating such a game, why do you want to tell a specific story, and what parts of a story you want to tell, and finally, do you have the right to say that story. Gamers aren’t stupid, they can tell if you want to share your culture across the world or if you want to exploit something that isn’t yours just by playing the game.

Rein reiterates that to make a good game that’s steeped in your own culture, the best way to do that is to steep it in the everyday life of your culture, because that’s the thing most people resonate with.

From the player’s point of view, Arif was able to contribute some really good ideas where he mentions that the beauty of a game steeped in culture is in the subtlety. He reminisced about when he was playing one of Mojiken Studio’s games and came to the end where the little girl wore traditional clothes, which reminded him of what his sister and mother wore during festival seasons. and the scene moved him.

Games steeped in SEA cultureArif stated that this particular scene was not forced down the throat by the developers. It was just there naturally, like it was something completely normal, which is why it feels so good. He ends the panel by saying that the most important thing about infusing your culture into the game is to make it look natural and give it meaning.


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