National | Gaming

Indigenous online game launches

A world-first online game, Katuku Island, which supports indigenous education, will be launched this week and will be free to download on Apple and Google Play.

"Katuku Island is a gift to Māori and a gift to indigenous people, "Dr Phyllis Callaghan says.

"We began this journey long ago. Now, this is about helping Māori become computer literate."

The game is the upshot of the Māori academic's master's degree and doctoral research to close the gap for indigenous peoples and to learn how culture can create resilience.

Katuku Island is an original storyline adapted to a player survival game with an indigenous overlay. Players must make their way to the only uncontaminated place in the world, Katuku Island.

Along the way, players must create their player avatars designed to look like Māori warriors with tribal tattoos, design Māori weapons, build tribes, and escape the crumbling cities. Throughout the game, the player must undertake game challenges, like literacy and decision making. It uses gaming, fun, and cultural elements to push the learner to excel in problem-solving.

The biggest job was to create a digital world. Hikurangi Mangu, one of the main designers, says his team has done an amazing job. "The work came really naturally in terms of the pictures - that was the main job. All the carvings and work, it felt really natural even though it's a new time."

"This is an awesome path for our rangatahi."