Centuries before science began to shed light on the many wonders we see in the world today, our ancestors made sense of the world with legends and lore – thousands of myths created to try and find order in a world that seemed to defy it. With modern technology being so rampant however, many of us have lost sight of the wonders of folklore and local legends, with many of the youth becoming more knowledgeable about the latest mobile phones than their own culture.
A new trend is set to change this however, as many app developers have begun tapping into the spirit of local and global myths and legends to create inspiring mobile games. Statistics show that as of July of last year, there were 1.3 million apps on the Google Play Store, and 1.2 million in the iTunes App Store, and these numbers continue to grow at an exponential rate. It can be difficult to stand out in a sea of games that promise to offer something unique yet fail to deliver, and the challenge is often in attracting customers willing to spend money to purchase apps.
Some developers have taken the easy way out, relying on tried and tested formulas to create winning games. AlchemyBet has used Kingsoft’s award-winning Candy Crush game to inspire the latest innovation of slot games on Pocket Fruity, while dozens of developers have been inspired by Farmville’s rapid success and created build-your-own-city apps in different themes. Others have gone a completely different route, creating games that make use of elements previously unexplored, such as the folklore of different cultures.
Nearly 2 years ago, Year Walk became the stuff of legends when it was released for iTunes, drawing on elements of Swedish folklore to create a chilling puzzle game that tells the harrowing tale of a disappointed lover. In Swedish lore, the Year Walk is an event that allows those who participate to see into the future, and the game came with a handy companion app that helped explain the myth to those unaware of it. It presented a wonderful showcase of great Swedish lore to outsiders, and has since gone on to win various awards and features, becoming an example of great mobile game development.
Last year, The Owlman of Mawnan Smith introduced us to one of the most prevalent legends in South West England, the Cornish Owlman, which is said to have appeared in the region mid-1976. Other creatures from local mythology such as pixies and mine knockers also appear in the game, which is a dark retelling of real-life sightings through the years.
The admittedly cheaper development cost of games for the mobile platform has made it much easier for developers to experiment with different games and story lines to see which ones click with the audience, and it’s now become acceptable – and arguably preferable – to think outside of the box to get inspiration for games. Seeing as the platform is now a great way of introducing those not privy to local folklore to its intricacies, the myths and mythologies of South Africa could definitely shine in this new environment. Mobile phone penetration is growing in the region, and it could very well be a much-needed force that unites South Africans through their diverse heritage.
About the author: After becoming obsessed with building his own websites, Paul naturally fell into a Computer Science degree. While at University he wrote for the campus paper and helped budding entrepreneurs build their own sites to get him through college. Now he’s has a steady 9-5 job and three dogs that take up his time.