Vukuzenzele is the game we pitched to the Serious About Games competition in November 2016, and were awarded as the winners on 4 April. The Serious about Games program was launched in collaboration with Western Cape Government’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism, and the Cape Town Innovation and Technology Initiative.
Out submission was a collaboration between RenderHeads and iKhayalami, our NGO partners. iKhayalami developed the concept of “reblocking” around which our game is centered.
Reblocking is the process of spatial reconfiguration of informal settlements into a rationalized layout that takes into account the provision of essential services. It creates safer, cleaner and more vibrant communities, improving the economic standing of all those that live there. Socio-economics, by definition, is a two-way street (i.e. socio economics is the study of how economics affects, as is affected by the social process). It has been shown that by improving living conditions in an area, economic prosperity can follow.
For a reblocking to take place, the buy-in of all the stakeholders is required. The most important stake-holder being the community itself, who take active role in the reblocking process. Communities are generally disillusioned from past experiences where promises have not materialized and are therefore 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 reblocking, 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 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. Each action has a resource cost.
At the end of each round the layout of the settlement is evaluated and the community spirit drops if anyone is left unhappy. The loss condition is when you run out of resources or community spirit, and the win condition is when everyone is happy. When you win, your solution is ranked based on how few resources you have spent.
To find out more, or follow the development progress please visit the game’s website www.vukuzenzelegame.co.za