Dujanah is a digital game for PC Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems. It is an interactive narrative with a focus on exploration set in a fictional Islamic majority country that has an occupying military force. The protagonist and player character is a woman called Dujanah who has grievances with the intervening forces. During the game the player will encounter various moral, psychological and political dilemmas.
Dujanah will employ a number of innovations that make the narrative unique and subversive. Stories in the game will have various randomised elements for players, encouraging conversation outside of the game. The story will also change depending on decisions made by the player allowing for different final outcomes. Dujanah allows for a non-linear narrative meaning that players will experience a story that is unique to them. The main motivation for the player at the start of the game is to find a resolution for the grievances experienced, considering the question: how does revenge manifest itself?
Whilst seeking an answer to this, the player will visit various environments with a multitude of characters from an assortment of backgrounds, all with unique dialogues. This is where the greater part of the game takes place, finding the different stories and exploring the world of the game. Among the themes I hope to explore are: pluralism, motivations, ethics regarding intervention and libertarianism. An important aspect of the narrative is a certain quality of magical realism where fantasy elements are present in a real-world setting.
These include figures from Islamic eschatology, fictional machinery and humanoid creatures. The purpose of this is at once to symbolise certain inhuman characteristics and at the same time remove it slightly from reality. An aspect of magical realism is also present when the player's role in the game is explicitly referred to and when non-fiction interviews and stories are presented alongside fictional ones.
The world of Dujanah is comprised of clay animation and hand-crafted objects combined with photo-collage and paintings all augmented with digital effects. Unlike many contemporary games which are depicted purely in computer generated images, I want to create something that is instantly familiar to any audience yet also original and visually distinct. Many of the scenes are inspired by Islamic art and architecture, in particular the adobe buildings and geometric patterns of Moroccan villages.
Sound is an important part of Dujanah and helps create the mood of the world. Most of the music is performed on acoustic instruments using harmonic and double harmonic scales which resemble Arabic modes.
The arrangements often include piano, assorted percussion, guitar and kalimba to create a percussive, “earthy” timbre. I intend to use a variety of recording techniques, from low-quality recordings to resemble a more vintage sound to recordings made with binaural microphones to create a more immediate and intimate effect. Other scenes will have spoken word elements, either real-world conversations or dramatic monologues. I hope to record conversations and interviews with different people who have interesting perspectives on the themes discussed in the game.
I have a deep passion for music and sound and specialised in sound practices at university. With Dujanah I really want to push myself creatively and have fun with the use of sound and music in the game.
When you are tired of exploring you might want to pop into the arcade and play a game of something. Here you can find the Metroid-like Caves of Al Dajjal, puzzler Poopek Loves it All and a variety of other treats. The games you find in the arcade intertwine with certain stories in unique and sometimes surprising ways. The idea of a story within a story, a game within a game really interests me and I want to explore different ways of using this narrative tool that I believe is impossible in any other medium.
Predominantly I would like to research, present and discuss topics with the desired outcome to have a greater understanding of difficult themes such as the relationship between violence and religion. I believe a video game is an accessible, contemporary medium that allows for an interaction unachievable with other art forms, and a greater understanding of the themes tackled in the game will perhaps encourage more tolerance. An aspect of the research has involved talking with members of the Muslim community and beyond and considering perspectives that have not otherwise been presented in video games. I have already had a great many interesting conversations with relevant folk and plan to continue to do so should the funding be successful. Personally, I hope to mature my practice in every respect; greater visual representations, more developed sound, a more intricate narrative concerned with topics that I am keen to understand better.
I live in Edinburgh, Scotland, a truly inspiring city. I enjoy running and ping-pong, however, my real passion in life is making games. I've played in bands since I was 15 then went on to study Philosophy and English literature. Ultimately I qualified with a honours degree in Fine Art and found a home for all my creative outgoings by making games.
I have been making games for over 4 years now; from jam games and celebrated freeware titles to a collaborative experiment and a project helping kids make games in Forth Valley Children's Ward. I have even published a commercial game called Beeswing which was successfully funded through Kickstarter.
A full portfolio of my work can be found HERE
Thank you for considering my Kickstarter!
Risks and challenges
The two main risks when dealing with a Kickstarter for a video game are the game failing to materialise and the game being delayed.
I have successfully delivered a game (Beeswing) through Kickstarter before which I hope alleviates some concerns about the game not emerging. I have been engaged with this project since February, 2015 and have done a good deal of preparatory work. In terms of game mechanics and the way the piece works, all the fundamentals are finished; the text system is complete, there is a working save system allowing players to turn off the game and start from where they left off, the animations and sounds all start and stop when they are meant to.
In regards to the project being delayed I estimate that the game is about 65% complete, meaning that the anticipated release in October allows for some leeway should something go amiss. Having successfully completed a digital project of a similar size and scope I know that it will take roughly about another six months to finish this project. I am confident that the preparatory work that has been done has formed a strong foundation for the remainder of the project.
I have made a timeline to help meet my targeted release window:
I hope for the work to be in an alpha state by April, 2016, meaning that there is an unstable working version that is playable from beginning to end within certain parameters and with important aspects missing. By June I hope to have a beta version, a stable version that has all the major story arcs and other features in place. Throughout the process I will keep a development log for peers and the project's potential audience to engage with and leave feedback on. At the alpha stage I will share the project with a small number of peers (five or six) to provide feedback and evaluation. At the beta stage the project will be shared with a larger group of peers for more extensive testing and evaluation and the time after will be spent fixing any bugs and hiccups in the code.
In terms of understanding the subject matter my reading list has been as follows:
One Thousand years of Philosophy by Rom Harre
Islam and the Future of Tolerance A Dialogue by Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz
Freewill by Sam Harris
Of Man by Thomas Hobbes
Ghostly Demarcations by Derrida et al
Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art, edited by Kristine Stiles and Peter Selz
During the time of development I intend to reach out and to conduct interviews with participants who may have interesting perspectives on the topics in the game. I am still considering how best to disseminate these interviews and conversations within the piece.
The greatest risk for me is misrepresenting or exploiting the subject matter. This has been a concern of mine throughout my life as a practising artist and I hope to alleviate it through conversation and beta-testing at different stages with people of various backgrounds.
My reading list for the remainder of the project includes:
Radical by Maajid Nawaz
Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Reason, Freedom and Democracy in Islam by AbdolKareem Soroush
Freedom of Religion, Apostasy & Islam by Abdullah Saeed and Hassan Saeed
- (30 days)