Jiwe Studios is a Kenyan video game studio dedicated to creating distinctive African story-driven games and experiences. Thanks to the SpielFabrique African Co-Production Market, Jiwe Studios connected with a German studio called Achtung Autobahn Studios. The indie studio is based in Cologne and it focuses on making historical social-realistic games that are fun first.
The two studios chose to work on a brand new title named Colonial Rule. It will be a free-to-play city defender game. The player will embody the leader of a West African coastal town in the late 19th century. At this point in time European powers are pushing into the town by promising investments and an increase in trade, but the more power they gain the more aggressive their demands get.
The player is tasked with managing these European powers as well as the needs of the West African people. Players will need to take control of the administration of a town and manage their citizen’s demands while on the other hand making sure that they keep the influence of the European imperialists at bay.
When asked why they chose to collaborate on such a project, Max Musau the CEO of Jiwe Studios had the following to say, “The rhetorics and mechanics of current strategy games are normally modelled after colonial and imperialist systems European powers employed throughout history. These games often reduce or completely cut the impact these politics had on indigenous populations of the colonised lands (two prominent examples are the Anno and Civilization series). “Colonial Rule” is solving this problem by casting the player, not as the explorer and this coloniser but rather as the colonised, who has to deal with the arrival of the coloniser by trying to keep them at bay. So in this line, our current tagline of “Colonial Rule” tries to invert the typical four core mechanics of 4X strategy games “Explore, Expand, Exploit and Exterminate.”
This collaboration draws from Jiwe’s interest in historical, colonial and pre-colonial games and Achtung Autobahn Studios’ interest in European economics and social realistic games. Their co-production approach is constantly evolving, however, at the moment Achtung Autobahn Studio is doing the game design while Jiwe is focusing on the game development and overall project management.
In addition to the overall management and engineering of the game, Jiwe will leverage its experience in developing historically realistic games. Colonial Rule will be the 2nd after Bunce Island. The Kenyan studio plans to bring in a historian who will provide accurate context to the game.
A lot of the general design of the game is already done, the two studios are waiting to get a few more partners on board to help with the heavy lifting. However, they intend to officially kick off in February 2023. “At the moment we are looking for partners from the games for good space who can help make this idea a reality. We are also looking for media and education partners,” says Max Musau.
When asked about some highlights of his experience with the SpielFabrique African Co-Production Market Max said, “I think for me the greatest insight was connecting with the European publishers and seeing how they work, and understanding how to communicate with them using demos and game pitches. They also have a very deep market understanding of what works and what may not and understanding how they evaluate that based on the market positioning of the game was great.”
In closing, Max stated, “Through the game, we want to highlight the challenges native powers faced when they encountered the economic and political power of the European empires in the 19th century. These challenges will focus mainly on the methods these empires pursued to secure themselves access to resources and governance. In short, the game’s goal is to communicate the reality of the oppressed and for it to be an educational tool.”