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Only the Wao Kanaka trailer is currently available. Downloads may be accessible again in the future.

The Game: Wao Kanaka (The Human Realm)

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Explore and learn as you listen to stories of the past in order to make better decisions in the present. What you do today has the power to change the story of the future.

Set in contemporary Hawai‘i, Wao Kanaka is a first-person exploration and puzzle game based on Kānaka Maoli stories and knowledge surrounding the concept of "aloha ‘aina," or love for the land.

As the player, you have always listened to captivating stories of the past that your Tūtū (grandmother) has told, but before she parts with this plane of existence, she leaves you with one final story: a story of the future.

The mo‘olelo that she tells is based on all that she has seen in her lifetime as she knows that if humanity continues down this path, there will be no future to tell of.

 

It is now your kuleana, your responsibility, to continue to learn from the past in order to rewrite Tūtū’s story of the future.

The Journey: Ka Lei Milikaa

In the summer of 2018, 17 talented kanaka maoli came together to form Ka Lei Milikaa, the development studio that produced Wao Kanaka.

 

In collaboration with Concordia University we built Hawaii's first Aloha Aina videogame that featured real legends and historical accounts that could educate youth about living sustainably and respectfully toward the land.

The collaboration was made possible by Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTec), Initiative for Indigenous Futures (IIF), and Kanaeokana.

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In the early stages of development, all 17 of us had sat in a story circle presenting a moolelo (a story) we were passionate about. There were so many beautiful personal stories, legends, and historical accounts to choose from that I couldn't help but do what I do best: see the bridge between them and find a way to include as many ideas as possible.

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I did also share a fictional tale that day out of the protocol to do so, but I suggested we actually not use it and offered the idea of cutting its plot to form an overarching narrative that would fit everyone else's ideas. The game could be a story about, well... stories... and how these legends, teachings, and histories are important to our understanding and treatment of the ʻāina, the land.

It was an ah-ha moment for everyone and with fervor and passion, the ball got rolling on an exciting time that I'll never forget. Seeing your story and ideas come to life and materialize before your very eyes is the best part of this process hands down.

I also contributed to programming and level design including the construction of the main map and its three altered states in Unity.

The Vision: Our realm, our responsibility.

I wrote the overarching narrative of Wao Kanaka with the idea of placing the player in the shoes of someone indigenous, rather than approaching them as an outsider that had to learn our ways.

 

This was important to me because one of the biggest goals of sharing our culture is for others to see through our eyes in the hopes that they come to feel what we feel toward the land and each other.

As we selected the different moolelo that would be told through this narrative, natural themes presented themselves: sustainability, responsible resource management, and perpetuation of the culture that cultivates these values in the hearts of the people.

The title "Wao Kanaka" came to us near the end of development, when one of our programmers realized that all of these values are pertinent to keeping our realm healthy.

 

It is not just a game about being sustainable, it truly is about our world and its future.

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