While we’ve had slight progress in beefing up ethnic and gender diversity in video games (Lara Croft’s 2013 Tomb Raider remix and Assassin’s Creed Liberation), the topic is still a hot one in the gaming community. There’s still work to do in creating more realistic, multi-dimensional characters but it’s good to see the development of one particular video game that’s kicking the mainstream norm in the pants.
Nodding Head Games’ Raji: An Ancient Epic is a title that proves it’s possible to be inclusive without pandering or coming off insincere. Set in ancient India, Raji tells the story of a woman who loses her family to war and must rescue her brother from evil spiritual forces. Blessed with powers and weapons from gods inspired by Indian and Balinese mythology, we see Raji in a quest that on screen looks part God of War and Diablo 3. The nerd in me wanted to know about mythology so I asked a rep and here’s the response:
Most of the enemy characters are based on Balinese mythology, one, in particular, is Rangda, the child eater and demon queen. We’re also looking at “Kumbhkarana” from the Hindu mythology, when thinking of the giants, he fits the bill… This is a classic tale of David and Goliath, will Raji prevail? The Hindu gods Durga, Shiva, Kali will also make an appearance, blessing Raji with various weapons and abilities.”
I’m really excited that Nodding Head’s, Founder and Game Artist Shruti Ghosh made sure to fill RAAE with characters that may encourage someone to crack open a book or do a web search for a name other than a reality television “star”. Personally, I think this can be one of the most effective ways of social revolution through games. It’s not cramming a load of metaphorical rhetoric down your throat, it’s putting you into an entertaining environment and offering characters that are relatable. It’s the classic tale of hero saves the day and just happens to be someone of color with the same awesomeness as any other mainstream hero.
Most of all, the game looks great so far. From the trailers released, Raji: An Ancient Epic looks on par with it’s blockbuster peers. Besides, the protagonist isn’t a woman clad in armored underwear, she’s rescuing a dude for a change and the theme isn’t built on Indian stereotypes. Sorry, there’s no Kama Sutra scenes or snake charming.
I wouldn’t suggest Raji for really young gamers since there is some violence even though it’s not the bloody type. However, for teens and adults it’s a video game that aims to add on to the beautiful stories told through the medium.
Raji: An Ancient Epic doesn’t have a release date yet but from what I’ve seen, not only will this be an awesome video game but a notable step towards everything right about the gaming world. When it does release, it will be available for Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. For now, check out the official trailer below.