During my Senior year at the Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) in the Digital Media Conservatory, I had the opportunity to intern at the University of California, Irvine,(UCI) with a team of graduate students. We worked on an educational RPG like game called Sankofa. I mainly worked on prop modeling and some texturing for the project, but I learned a lot about the process and workflow as well. The team included a history professor, who helped with research to keep the game historically accurate, a producer, concept artist, game developers and three of us students built many of the game assets. I spent approx. 10-12 hours a week on the game during each production life-cycle.
Game Concept: Sankofa, meaning literally, “Go Back and Get It”, tells the story from past to present of the Akan people. It incorporates their rich culture and day to day life activities, ultimately revealing their tragic fate. The player travels from the mythological beginning of the universe, weaving through both history and legend. The player is guided through the world by Anansi, the spider spirit and keeper of stories. Through adventure gameplay with rpg elements, the player completes challenges and lives their own story as one of the Akan people. The player takes on the power of the spirits in his/her quest to outwit Anansi, and ultimately death itself. Despite this victory, however, the future still holds the undeniable history of slavery of the Akan people we have come to know and understand.
Sankofa aims to bring a cultural understanding of an aspect of history not regularly discussed in standard educational curriculum. Schools do cover the topic of slavery. There is not often an opportunity, however, to understand and relate to the personalities and day to day lives of the people it involves.