On 20 August 2020, the educational video game The Durga Puja Mystery was released. It was developed to target mainly (beginner and intermediary level) university students in South Asian Studies, Religious Studies and Asian Studies and Cultural Studies broadly, but can be used in any other (educational and non-educational) context as it is easy to play also for persons who don't usually play video games. It is open access. Find the game and related info and material (a game trailer, visuals such as HD wallpapers and screenshots, and context info on Durga Puja, such as current negotiations and debates around the festival) at https://blogs.helsinki.fi/durgapuja-the-videogame/.
The educational video game The Durga Puja Mystery introduces to Indian festival culture, by focusing on the arguably most popular and widespread Hindu festival Durga Puja. Today, Durga Puja is not only widely celebrated in India, but the festival is also a highly important event in the global Indian communities. The game is a third-person 3D adventure game, filled with mystery and using educational tasks, puzzles and riddles. It takes place inside and around a majestic heritage mansion near Kolkata, India – during the time of Durga Puja, of course!
Learn by playing
In this game, the player plays as Laura, a Finnish student, who is visiting India for the first time. She has been invited by her Indian friend Vani to celebrate Durga Puja with her and her family. Vani takes Laura to her ancestral heritage home, where the festival of Durga Puja is about to take place. Both arrive at the majestic house expecting a fun-filled and educating time, only to find that all the celebrations are on hold. The ancestral metal statue of the goddess Durga, which is a key part of the celebration, is missing! Laura takes up the responsibility of finding the statue upon a special request by the lady of the house, Vani’s aunt. She gains deeper insights into and knowledge about the festival – history, mythological contexts, iconographies and worship and celebration modes – and employs this new knowledge and her investigative skills to find the statue. As she progresses, the mystery only gets deeper.
The player is subjected to educational tasks and investigative puzzles gradually informing about Durga Puja. During the game, the player will collect various items, including reference books, texts and images, that can help with the investigation and play a key part in winning the game. Simultaneously and as characteristic for educational games, these items introduce the player to various key themes related to Durga Puja and support the player in their educational and academic quest. They are selected with the aim to transmit information about and inspire further interest in Indian culture at large. The game takes about 60–90 min to play, depending on the options the player chooses.
The game is a collaborative effort of the University of Helsinki (Finland), Xenia Zeiler, and the Kolkata (India) based award-winning game development studio Flying Robots Studio, Satyajit Chakraborty. It was funded by the Future Development Fund, Faculty of Arts, and the Digiloikka Initiative of the University of Helsinki.
The game is open access and we invite everyone to play!