Pakistan :: Run Sheeda Run

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Poultry in Motion…

After some research, the first Pakistani game, which caught my attention, was the mobile first-person-shooter “Pakistan Army Retribution”. In this game you would play a Pakistani soldier defeating Taliban terrorists in a school. The game should remind and make aware of the 2014 Peshawar school massacre (141 people, including 132, children were killed) and was developed following up the one-year anniversary. However, designing a game based on such a tragedy is a very sensitive topic and probably not the perfect way to deal with such a doom event. Due to lots of criticism on its poor taste and disrespectfulness for families and victims it was removed from Google Play Store in January (Article).

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The local game developer community is still extremely upset about this game and strongly criticise it as they find it is a very bad representation for true Pakistani games.

“This game has been designed by some non-professionals and is based on Terrorist attack on Peshawar’s Army Public School on 16 December 2014, which is a very sensitive issue for Pakistani audience. Thus the game has faced a lot of criticism from locals and eventually taken down. The game has poor graphics, game design and technical errors.”

So instead of playing this dark game I got to play an extremely colourful and humorous mobile game. Sadia Bashir, a representative of the Pakistan Game Developers association and the local developer community helped me to find another and more representative game for the growing developer community. They chose “Run Sheeda Run” for me, a colourful mobile jump’n’run game, which reminds of Pakistan’s tradition and street culture. The game takes place in Lahore, Pakistan. The game starts by introducing the player in form of a comic to the two friends: the Pakistani kid Sheeda and his beloved smart chicken. But suddenly, the chicken gets kidnapped by this stereotypical evil super-villain, the BBQ chef. (a “qasai”, a member of the community with the occupation of butchering). The game starts and the player has to help Sheeda to save his best friend from becoming part of Chicken Tikka on a BBQ fest. The game is designed as an endless runner; the main gameplay reminds of the Danish game Subway Surfers. You are running through the streets of Lahore, trying to avoid obstacles. It takes place in a city theme (with a mix of fancy 3d objects and pretty flat dwellers), with street markets, food carts, grumpy businessmen, and busy streets as obstacles. You can run, duck, jump, and slide.. until you die (so actually the cook finally steals your chicken). My favourite mechanics, however, is definitely the one, where you are able to use your chicken as a flying apparatus. The game is extremely polished with fancy graphics and very nice animations. However, it is kind of sad to know, that in the end your friend always will be cooked.

The game is based on this nice webcomic “Run Sheeda Run”. I am definitely waiting for an English translation to read the comics. While the website promotes the game with “Made in Pakistan, Made by Pakistan, Made for Pakistan!” I would highly recommend changing this to “Made in Pakistan, Made by Pakistan, Made for the World!”.  

Release 2014
Genre Jump’n’run, Mobile, Endless runner
Developer Studios
Publisher Studios

Belgium :: Divine Divinity

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This can take a while..

While doing some research on games from Belgium I found some interesting gaming experiences. The Graveyard (Tale of Tales), for instance, tells the story of an elderly woman walking around the cemetery, sitting down on a bench, and listening to a (somehow weird) Belgian song. Reading about this game made me immediately download the demo and play it. (You should definitely also take these 10 minutes and check out the free demo.) Even though this “game” (experience) is extremely short and content and interactions are very limited, it would affect one more than expected. Not only me. For example, it also was an inspiration for the peaceful village in Uncharted 2 [R].

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Another game I found was Battle for Donetsk (Play now – Webplayer), “a war game with an anti-war message”; to create awareness of a conflict between Donetsk People’s Republic and the Ukrainian government. You can’t win this game by playing it, because regardless of your performance the victims always are civilians. You can only win by refusing to play the game of war.

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So Belgium is full of alternative and interesting gaming experiences. However, the Belgium voices were pretty loud and clear about THEIR game of Belgium: The Divinity series. The Divinity universe definitely is a piece of gaming history. So I already got nervous when starting Divine Divinity – an action roleplaying game with more than 30 hours of main story. Since I usually have this urge to finish the story (and all quests, collect all mushrooms, and find EVERYTHING) – starting this game could be the downfall for my year project. So I decided to keep the first run very short and keep this game (and also this post) a constantly growing experience over the year.

The graphics and gameplay remind a bit of Diablo but with more focus on roleplaying mechanics. You start the game by choosing your character. You can choose between warrior, mage, or survivor (male or female). I’ve picked the least-naked female character, the witch. You would start the game by waking up in the house of a stranger without any clue what has happened to you. Piece after piece the healer, who has found you dying, tells you the background story. The leader of this town full of healers has gone crazy and you should find a way to help him.

The main story leads the player to the cellar of the healer’s house. However, half an hour later I find myself again searching herbs and mushrooms for a mini-quest. Some inhabitants of this village already hate me, some gave me weird quests, some I have robbed (You can decide wether to play good or evil.). There are tons of objects to find, books to read, items to steal, objects to craft, people to talk to. So let me tell you more about this game time after time.





Release 2002
Genre Roleplaying, Hack’n’play
Developer Larian Studios
Publisher cdv Software Entertainment

North Korea :: Pyongyang Racer

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North Korea and its worst game of the world

While there a tons of games developed all over the world, which are set in North Korea or satirically feature Kim (e.g. Glorious Leader, featuring Kim on a unicorn), I panicked from the very beginning of my “journey” to find a game, which is actually developed in North Korea (and also available to us).

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Today I suddenly stumbled upon headlines like “The North Korean Video Game for People Who Hate Fun“, “North Korea’s First Racing Video Game Is Terrible“. This is not really how I would usually choose games for this project, however, in this case it was also the only game I found at all, and the number of headlines talking about this game so high – so this game really caught my attention.

The game – which is known to the world as the worst game of the world – is called Pyongyang Racer. Apparently, it was the first (and to my knowledge the only) game developed in North Korea, which was designed for the Western world. The browser game was developed by a travel company to boost tourism to Pyongyang. Thus, comparing this commercial game to other games would not be fair. But it is really not a masterpiece. The game is designed similar to 90s SEGA racing games. But without racing elements, such as other driving cars, other racers, or competitive features. The goal is to finish the roundtrip through the city-center of North Korea’s capital Pyongyang and to collect all pictures (+information pieces) of monuments. Your car is a local one from Pyeonghwa Motors. Fuel is running out, so you have to collect fuel barrels on the way. And you should not hit other cars (.. which are by the way not moving and all parking in the middle of the streets.. ). Compared to other racing games, the only “enemy” is time. If you would like to compare your time with others, you have the option to take a screenshot of the final screen and send an email to the travel tours company to be ranked in a “Championship” ranking (my time: 8 mins 31)! At this moment – just take 10 minutes of your time and play it now! 

Pyongyang Racer won’t win too many prizes. BUT maybe this game -which reminds on the first steps developers made mid 90s – is a first sign of a new inspiration for North Koreans to develop games and also share it with the Western world. One step closer to using media to connect these very different worlds and to communicate with the outside.

I would be still interested in finding a game from North Korea designed to create interesting experiences, and not a game designed for commercial purposes. If anyone has other hints for games from North Korea please drop me a line.

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Release 2012
Genre Racing?
Developer Nosotek
Publisher Koryo Tours

Brazil :: Toren

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Sacrifice your childhood, Moonchild

In 2016 Brazil hosted 48(!) Global Game Jam locations. So I thought it will be incredibly easy finding tons of games from Brazil. However, choosing a game was not an easy task. While people from Brazil play a lot, and always lead the game consumer lists on the Steam sales page, the number of studios only grows slowly. Well-known games such as or Outlive were developed in Brazil. However, compared to the enormous number of interested developers and jammers, I found only a small list of games published in Brazil. Also it is interesting to read that this country seems to have quite strict censorships. Bully, for instance was banned, sales of Counter-Strike were prohibited in 2008 [R]. Nevertheless, at the moment Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is the favourite game in Brazil according to Steam statistics.

Steam Download statistics retrieved 02/03/16 from
Steam Download statistics retrieved 02/03/16 from

Asking mighty Twitter for recommendations for games, especially titles from the studios Aquiris Game Studio (Horizon Chase), Behold Studios (Knights of Pen and Paper +1 [definitely on my Steam wishlist now!]), or Joy Masher were named. It was not easy, but the game I finally chose for my project was “Toren”, one of the youngest of these games, developed by the Brazilian Indie Studio Swordtales. Toren was the first game supported by the Brazilian’s government and got financial support from the Brazilian Ministry of Culture.

The saying “Life is short” gets definitely a new meaning when playing this game. You play this strong female character called “Moonchild”. Your goal is to beat the dragon on top of this mysterious tower (Toren). While you are climbing this tower you are also growing up. So it’s quite interesting when you to start as a toddler, crawling through your first quest. On your way you would constantly fall into dream sequences. You are never entirely sure if you are currently dreaming or awake. After such sequences the character often comes back to the tower grown older. The environment, all animations, and in particular the cutscenes were artistically crafted with so much love for detail. The puzzles and fights were not particularly hard but the main element of this game is definitely this process of growing with the character, surrounded by inspiring poems, metaphors, and mysterious music.

Playing this game was not challenging and its focus is not on sophisticated game mechanics. Playing this game was a pleasing and somehow healing (?) experience. It was a very intense and simply wonderful, beautiful – sometimes dark – experience. AND it was definitely hard to pick just a few screenshots out of this giant list of beautiful pictures I took while playing (experiencing) this game. (I felt like an artist while taking screenshots, which immediately turned out to be super-fancy and meaningful pieces of art.)






Release 2015
Genre Adventure
Developer Swordtales
Publisher Versus Evil