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If You Could Create a Game About South Africa…

3 min read

There is no question that we live in a beautiful country, but it’s also one that can be extremely frustrating. I promised myself that I would not delve into politics, but I think many reading this sentence will agree; South Africa can be an equal mixture of stunning scenery and crushing social realities. If you have been lucky to have been at a recent (non-alcoholic) braai, or even stayed safe (because of Covid) and merely chatted with a friend via Social Media, you’ve probably been following the recent saga with our former President. Most of us are either talking about his jail sentence, while the rest of us are wondering about when we can get the Covid vaccine.

However, it’s left me wondering what would a game about South Africa look like?

I know we have had South African characters featured in games over the years, from Far Cry 2 – where South African mercenaries were the bad guys. I could be wrong but there is even a South African character in Titanfall 2 (and Apex Legends?). Ubisoft love to use South African voice actors or even British actors with atrocious “Sef Efriken” accents; I hate to break it to you guys, but the South African accent is a hard one to fake.

But I was wondering if you could design a game… that was quintessential South African what would it be like? 

I suppose the easiest one would be a government simulation game (almost similar to Tropico), where you’re a rising star in the ruling party and you have to climb the ranks, build support and then when you’re ready to run the country, you’re left to either be a good president, fighting corruption, or an eager contributor to an offshore slush fund (presumably hosted in the UAE) – with a few buddies you’ve made in Russia, India or elsewhere.

Another one I was thinking about would be a simple city simulation game where you’re allocated a small amount of electricity, and you have to keep your city’s economy and businesses alive, the citizens happy, while also dealing with load-shedding and constant service delivery protests.

Obviously, there’s also the inevitable Grand Theft Auto, Mafia or Yakuza clone, where you’re a wannabe criminal, rising in a criminal syndicate and as your power grows, you can invest in taxi organisations, pay off police members, or even become the head of a syndicate. I would love to see a game that recreates parts of Johannesburg or even parts of Cape Town. If only to shout at my TV “That’s LONG STREET” or “I know that shop from Newtown” or “Wait, a second, that’s Koeberg Road…”.

But then, I was also thinking about games that are not as serious, like a braai (barbeque) game. One where you must host the perfect braai, keep up with ridiculous demands from friends who insist on the strangest things to throw on the coals, from eggplant (shudder) to their uncle’s homemade premium beef sausages or that one guy who comes late to the braai, and then wants to put his chicken on the coals.

Or… what about a video game where you’re just a minibus taxi driver, and you have to navigate the streets, deal with hostile drivers, traffic officers but have enough in the cash box at the end of the day to upgrade your taxi. Yes, that sounds like a bad clone of Crazy Taxi. But, just imagine it, “Mowbray, Kep Town!!!

What stereotypical South African games can you guys think of? And yes… the ultimate shower simulator is not off-limits (giggles).

Last Updated: July 12, 2021

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