VUKUZENZELE IS A GAME ABOUT RE-IMAGINING INFORMAL SETTLEMENTS IN SOUTH AFRICA, THROUGH THE CONCEPT OF “RE-BLOCKING”
Re-blocking, pioneered by iKhayalami, describes a design and implementation process that is driven by the community and involves the reconfiguration of a settlement layout into one that is more rationalized allowing for the creation of demarcated pathways or roads, public and semipublic spaces all of which opens access for emergency vehicles, the provision of infrastructure and basic services which were not previously taken into account.
RenderHeads and iKhayalami partnered to create an entry for the Serious About Games Competition, launched late 2016. On April 4th 2017, Vukuzenzele was announced as the winning entry. Entries were adjudicated by WITS game design lecturer Hanli Geyser, international game developer Veve Jaffer, start-up consultant Alex Fraser, gaming industry lawyer Nicholas Hall, and Olivia Dyers and Bianca Mpahlaza-Schiff of DEDAT.
RenderHeads is a software development company that specialises in the development of serious games and interactive museum exhibits.
Ikhayalami is an NGO whose primary aim is to develop and implement affordable technical solutions for Informal Settlement Upgrading.
In reality, before a re-blocking can talk place, buy-in of all stakeholders involved is required. The most important stakeholder being the community itself, who take an active role in the re-blocking process. Communities are generally disillusioned from past experiences where promises have not materialized. Therefore, they are skeptical of anyone coming in to their community to talk about the restructuring of a settlement.
The idea behind the game is that we introduce players in informal settlements to the concept of re-blocking, and help them to understand the benefits through play.
It is designed as a puzzle game with levels that scale in complexity as we introduce new rules to the player. The goal for each level is to ensure that all people in a given area have their needs satisfied. Each house has its own set of needs (for example, some people would like to be near a daycare).
The gameplay relies on a simple “tap” mechanic, drawn from the basics of smart-phone interaction. The player taps on a structure and is then able to upgrade it, rotate it, or move it to a new location.
RenderHeads and iKhayalami will be working closely together to refine the game and roll it out in the coming months. Watch this page for updates and demo releases.
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