Bringing Culture to Video Gaming


Read this article in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi

Photo: Cathy Cruz-George

Photo: Justin Santos

Last year, ʻōpio designed a video game that challenges players to evade the spirits of ancient Native Hawaiian warriors. The name of the game: The Night March.

Through a partnership with Liliʻuokalani Trust (LT), the ʻōpio participated in programming with Gameheads, an Oakland, Calif., based tech-training program using video game design, development and DevOps to train youth for future careers.

Kamaliʻi from LT traveled to the Bay Area to showcase The Night March to other program participants globally and to leaders in the gaming field.

Video gaming is an innovative approach to e nā kamalei lupalupa — LT’s mission to provide resources, support and safe spaces for kamaliʻi in Hawaiʻi to thrive — and is an exciting way to engage and teach youth the skills needed for the emerging world.

Native Hawaiian culture was the heart of their self-identity, and presenting moʻolelo o Hawaiʻi with authenticity was their mission. Says Chaezen P., an LT kamaliʻi: “We pursued this game because there are not many games portraying Hawaiian culture.”

LT’s partnership with Gameheads will deepen in the months ahead, with 15 more kamaliʻi set to begin programming this year. They hail from Oʻahu, Maui and Hawaiʻi Island and will meet weekly online and in-person with Gameheads’ mentors.

The Night March is available on the platform.

Cathy Cruz-George is LT’s brand strategist and Justin Santos is LT’s practice development advisor.