‘Tales of Kenzera: Zau’ — a video game about grief, inspired by Bantu mythology-ZoomTech News

NPR’s Juana Summers talks with recreation designer Abubakar Salim concerning the lengthy journey of making a recreation to course of the grief of shedding his father to most cancers.


Inventive director Abubakar Salim has at all times liked video video games. That love was handed all the way down to him by his father.


ABUBAKAR SALIM: It began with my dad, proper? He obtained me into them. He understood, , that video games are an artwork kind. You recognize, it is an important area to take pleasure in an escape from the fact of the world.

SUMMERS: However over 10 years in the past, his dad died after a battle with most cancers.


SALIM: And I will let you know what, I am nonetheless figuring it out. However 4 years in the past, I made a decision that I wanted to try to course of my grief in a manner that felt true to me and him. So I took the most important danger of my life and threw all the pieces that I had in making a recreation, a chunk of artwork that honored him, an ode to the folks we’ve got liked and misplaced.

SUMMERS: That recreation, years within the making, is out now. It is known as Tales of Kenzera: ZAU.


SALIM: (As Zau) My baba, my father, your story was snatched away too quickly. My identify is Zau, shaman of Kenzera. Right here, I search my father, Shutan (ph).

SUMMERS: Abubakar Salim is right here to inform us extra concerning the lengthy journey to bringing this new recreation to life. Welcome to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

SALIM: (Laughter) Thanks for having me. It is – I am sorry. It is – I simply I obtained to say it is very surreal listening to that again at present (laughter) ‘trigger I am very conscious of how private it’s and sharing it to folks. So it is – listening to it again is like, oh, man. You recognize, it simply hits on one other degree. It is simply so private.

SUMMERS: Nicely, let’s begin there. I imply, this recreation is so private to you. Listening to you on the Recreation Awards speaking about your relationship along with your dad and the way a lot he meant to you and the way a lot this recreation means to you – inform us a little bit of the story of how working by way of your individual grief with the lack of your father led you to this recreation that we’re now in a position to play.

SALIM: Completely. It is a humorous one – proper? – ‘trigger I am an actor by commerce. So, , I’ve performed, , “Raised By Wolves,” “Black Mirror,” , I am now in “Home Of The Dragon.” Like, I’ve performed – that is actually usually my area. It was once I was in South Africa – I used to be filming “Raised By Wolves” on the time – and I used to be enjoying a recreation on my Nintendo Change. And there was a bit in Ori and the Blind Forest – it is this waterfall part. It is this chase sequence, and it is extremely troublesome to do. However I used to be in a position to accomplish it.

And the sensation that got here by way of, this sense of, like, form of, , simply happiness of truly getting by way of this factor, it type of took me again to a sense I keep in mind when enjoying Sonic for the primary time on the Mega Drive and my father watching me play Sonic and that feeling of truly finishing this degree that we simply stored dying on. And it simply dawned on me there that I needed to make a recreation. Be mindful I had no thought what it meant to make a recreation or tips on how to do it.

SUMMERS: Proper.

SALIM: However I used to be simply so pushed by this concept that the way in which to specific my emotions, the way in which to specific this grief is thru a online game.


SALIM: (As Zau) The shaman’s path is considered one of therapeutic, considered one of guiding. But, how does a shaman carry out his duties when he’s the one in want of therapeutic, of guiding.

SUMMERS: Let’s discuss a bit, if we will, concerning the story of the sport. Simply briefly, in the event you can, inform us concerning the premise of it.

SALIM: So Tales of Kenzera: ZAU is a few younger shaman known as Zau, who makes a cope with the God of dying, Kalunga, that in trade for 3 nice spirits, he’ll deliver the spirit of his father again to life.


TRISTAN D LALLA: (As Kalunga) And inform me, (non-English language spoken), what wealth is it that you simply search?

SALIM: (As Zau) My Baba. A illness plagued him. You’ve got taken his soul, and I’m right here to reclaim it again.

You recognize, it is impressed by Bantu mythology and legends, quite a lot of the tales that my father would inform me as a child. However actually, it is actually impressed by the journey of grief that I had skilled having misplaced my father. You recognize, quite a lot of the time every time I’ve seen grief depicted in an leisure medium, it is at all times been fairly unhappy and fairly down and morose, and it has been so much, proper? Whereas, my expertise was very colourful in a manner. It was vivid. It was virtually like these – the rose-tinted glasses have been ripped from my face, and I am seeing the world anew.

One of many largest type of shocks for me was that the world continued to spin. And as foolish because it sounds, it was simply such a shock. On the identical time, I used to be additionally coping with this concept of, OK, now, , my father has handed away, I’ve obtained to be the person of the household or the – , I’ve obtained to be the one who has – , who’s in charge of all the pieces. That’s the place this recreation is type of – the place it comes from. The kernel of this recreation, it comes from my expertise and my journey of grief.

SUMMERS: And I am unable to discuss to you about this recreation with out speaking to you concerning the recreation’s soundtrack, which feels actually completely different to me.

SALIM: (Laughter) Yeah.

SUMMERS: What makes you chortle about that query?

SALIM: No, ‘trigger the soundtrack is so good, proper (laughter)?


SALIM: You recognize, the factor – once more, that is the fantastic thing about working with somebody who’s so good and simply so proficient as Nainita.

SUMMERS: So that you’re speaking about Nainita Desai there. She’s the composer for the sport, proper?

SALIM: Sure. Yeah. And what a composer she is. So, I introduced Nainita on very, very early. Once more, this was throughout the time that I – , there was no EA concerned. There was none of that. It was simply me, this concept and a workforce of – , a workforce of individuals. And Nainita simply obtained it. You recognize, she understood what I used to be attempting to say.


SALIM: It was very a lot this mentality of, like, , I would like – it is my father, who was introduced up in Kenya, and type of him speaking with me, who was introduced up in England, and having this type of conflict that is smart, but in addition there’s this sense of, like, it vibes, however then it would not, however then it vibes, after which it would not. And for Nainita to seize one thing like that and never solely seize the essence of it, but in addition seize that journey of grief, I chortle as a result of it is so lovely. So yeah.

SUMMERS: You recognize, I’ve to say, once we began our dialog, we began out by speaking about how the roots of this recreation are within the grief that you simply had after shedding your father. And but, as I’ve had this dialog with you, I hear your laughter. It feels like you have got a smile in your face the complete time that you simply’re speaking about this recreation. How do you steadiness the 2?

SALIM: I feel as a result of grief is not at all times unhappy. And it is a type of ones the place so long as you settle for the truth that the grief is not going to go away – you simply must, , virtually settle for that it’s there. You get comfy with it, and you possibly can discover virtually, like, the type of – the aid in it in addition to the anger, in addition to the happiness, and use that as a gasoline supply to maintain pushing you ahead. There is a magnificence on this thought of an finish, that the life that you simply reside or that you simply form of work as much as or that you’ve is – there’s a lot magnificence there. And grief actually actually is a celebration of life. That is what grief is. It is the celebration of life, and I actually do consider that. And I feel, like, this recreation is that.


UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing in non-English language).

SUMMERS: Now we have been speaking with artistic director Abubakar Salim. Tales of Kenzera: ZAU is out now. Thanks a lot.

SALIM: Thanks.


UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing in non-English language).

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