When it comes to messages in games, the concept of violence often appears to take the reigns. Recently, Hotline Miami’s audacious brutality left many with an alienated sense of ‘permitted wrongdoing’, allowing us to question the real meaning behind our actions, with Undertale’s empathic encouragement seeming to accept that violence is often key in gaming, but poses the question of if there is another way. But what about when the violence has already happened?
Jack King-Spooner, the Scottish developer behind Dujanah, will present a focus on intent, and where revenge stems from. The interactive story revolves around the titular Dujanah, a woman living in a fictional Islamic country that is currently under military occupation. In a world of rusted mechs and fantasy beings, the uproot of her home has affected the protagonist deeply, and as the player, you will attempt to resolve the grievances she holds. And each vulnerable event comes with the same question; how does revenge manifest itself?
The player’s time with Dujanah will be racked with political, moral and psychological problems, and posing decisions that wield the power to affect the narrative’s final outcome. According to the game’s Kickstarter campaign, Dujanah will feature a non-linear narrative, allowing players a little more freedom to weave a story more personal to them.
Comprising a striking claymation art style, complete with handmade objects and photo collages, there’s already a distinct sense of humanity and community underlying Dujanah’s proposition; something that could serve the game’s intended messages extremely effectively. The game’s visuals are claimed to have been digitally-augmented, possibly hinting at the psychological paths Dujanah’s narrative could take.
Says King-Spooner on Kickstarter:
“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.”
The game is still being funded, and more has yet to be released, but posing as much ethical, political and moral exploration as it appears to, together with an authentic art style and fascinating world, Dujanah could be an important title for contemporary gaming.