Games like Ghost of Tsushima, God of War Ragnarok, Red Dead Redemption, and Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, all share something in common, that is all of these games are based on strong cultures from various countries/continents. When I look at these games, I get a great sense of longing for games based on the African continent. Having just one game, which is Assassin’s Creed Origins, isn’t enough to showcase the expansive and rich lore the continent has to offer.
The general lack of interest from game developers across the board to tackle creating a game based on Africa’s mythology and culture is a disheartening one, to say the least. I can understand why the gaming industry may be hesitant to tackle sensitive or controversial topics related to African history and culture, such as colonialism, slavery, and conflict. However, that train of thought is narrow considering there is more to Africa than just those events. Limited representation of African cultures in the media and popular culture is partly to blame for it and I honestly don’t see that changing anytime soon, however in the world of gaming, despite a lack of resources and funding available for game developers looking to create games based on African themes, there’s a greater chance for awesome representation here and in any other media.
I mean when you see games like Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty and Black Myth: Wu Kong, games drenched with rich Chinese lore showing up, naturally as an African, you start to wonder when African game developers will step up and start making games of their own. It’s hard for me to see a European game studio or an Asian game studio ever deciding to dedicate themselves and take up that task any time soon, so it falls on African developers, especially the indie devs side to rise to the occasion and create something that will inspire more people to invest in our stories. Of course, that doesn’t mean non-African devs can’t make these games too, it’s more so the fact that it’s statistically more likely for a Japanese game studio to make a game with European settings than to ever make one with African setting. At the end of the day, games serve as media propaganda to strengthen one’s culture, and never seeing anything based on African culture further perpetuates the idea that Africans have no culture. Just think of the new enemies, monsters, weapons, architecture, and more Africa could bring to the games.
In fact, I have some ideas of games that anyone can make, free of charge, so long as you pay respect to the culture. So here are some of my ideas that can easily be made into a game:
A role-playing game set in the Songhai Empire during the 15th and 16th centuries. Players create their own characters and embark on a journey to become a powerful figure in the empire, whether as a warrior, diplomat, trader, or scholar. The game is set in an open-world environment and allows players to interact with the various kingdoms, tribes, and cultures within the empire, forming alliances, conducting trade, and engaging in battles. The player must also navigate the complex political landscape, dealing with historical figures and events such as the Moroccan invasion and the reign of Askia Muhammad. The ultimate goal is to gain influence and power within the Songhai Empire and secure a place in its history.
An adventure game set in the Songhai Empire during the height of its prosperity in the 15th and 16th centuries. Players take on the role of a young adventurer girl searching for the lost treasures of Timbuktu, the historic center of learning and trade in West Africa. The game combines elements of puzzle-solving, exploration, and historical discovery as the player travels across the vast Songhai Empire, visiting exotic locations, solving riddles, and uncovering secrets. The player must also navigate the challenges of life in the empire, such as dealing with rival factions and avoiding the dangers of the treacherous Sahara Desert. The ultimate goal is to find the treasures of Timbuktu and uncover the secrets of the great empire.
A stealth-based game set in the Kingdom of Kush during a time of political turmoil and conflict in the 7th to 4th centuries BC. Players take on the role of a Medjay, a highly trained and secretive group of warriors tasked with protecting the kingdom and its people. The game features elements of stealth, puzzle-solving, and action as players use their skills to infiltrate enemy fortresses, gather intelligence, and carry out covert missions. The player must also navigate the complex political landscape of the kingdom, dealing with rival factions and avoiding detection from the enemy. The ultimate goal is to complete each mission successfully and secure the stability of the Kingdom of Kush.
An action-adventure game set in the Oyo empire during its apogee (1650–1750). Players take on the role of a young warrior, chosen by the god Olorun to defend the kingdom against a powerful enemy threatening its existence. The game features fast-paced combat, puzzle-solving, and exploration as the player travels across the kingdom, battling foes, discovering treasures, and unlocking secrets. You’ve also been bestowed a portion of Olurns powers to face otherworldly beings that also threatened the newly form Oyo empire.
A Metroidvania-style game set in the Axum Kingdom during the height of its power in the 3rd to 6th centuries AD. Players take on the role of a young adventurer exploring the vast and interconnected world of the empire along side her two dog companions . The game features elements of action, exploration, and puzzle-solving as the player travels through ancient ruins, underground chambers, and mysterious temples. As the player progresses, they acquire new abilities and upgrades, allowing them to access previously inaccessible areas and uncover secrets about the history and culture of the Axum Kingdom. The player must also face challenges from rival factions and powerful enemies, using their skills and wits to survive and uncover the mysteries of the empire. The ultimate goal is to discover the hidden treasures of Aksum and uncover the secrets of one of the most powerful civilizations in ancient Africa.
These are just a few of many ideas that can be done. Games today are an amazing way to tell stories. It’s a combination of various media and can be used to expose a demographic to a culture that they didn’t know before. It’s clear that Africans need to seize this opportunity and take matters into their own hands, which they already have to be fair. We just need more. I’m just starting to grow impatient. It’s not enough to cry for diversity and demand other game developers to add one or two black characters. It’s up to us to write our own stories. Don’t get me wrong. If a well-established game developer/studio wants to take a crack at it, I definitely will not be against the idea, as long as it’s not misrepresenting the African community. We don’t need any more of that!
Nevertheless, it would be nice to have games based in Africa, been made by African video game developers with studios based in Africa so that they could reap the benefit of their harvest. Now, this also includes all the African Diasporas as well. We all gotta do our part and tell our stories. If you got the opportunity, take it and make a change. Plus, the gaming industry is a booming market right now. It’d be foolish to discourage such an endeavor.