Thu, 02 Dec 2021

by Chrispinus Omar

NAIROBI, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- Mijide Kemoli has successfully brought enrichment to the Kenyan gaming industry by fashioning a thrilling board game that throws players into the heart of Nairobi's infamous roads to test their judgment as they wade through the bustle.

The trained illustrator and educational game developer conceptualized the game, titled "What will you do after observing heightened risky road behavior?"

"Around 2017 I had this idea that I could create a game that mimics scenarios people experience on the roads such as erratic driving to see how they would behave in a setting where they can see in real-time reactions to their decisions," said Kemoli.

In a country plagued by road carnage which is largely associated with reckless driving, the idea of using games to complement mainstream advocacy of road safety is highly desirable.

Kenya's National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA) said about 3,000 people are killed in road accidents annually as a result of reckless driving.

"Communicating some concepts such as in this case road safety using games can be quite effective. You may sometimes have adults who are not able to decode the language of road designers and engineers so the games become an essential tool for creating more understanding," said Mark Ojal, an urban planner working with the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat).

Ojal who has also interacted with the game describes it as educative and adventurous. "The game is thought-provoking and its educative component can mobilize young people to adopt good road behavior," said Ojal.

The board game, which was developed in 2018 under Kekee Art, a game consultancy company of Kemoli, bears striking graphics and can be played by a maximum of six players aged 16 years and above. The players can assume different personas on the roads such as motorists or pedestrians and respond to situations where for instance a bribe is solicited by a traffic officer to excuse road blunders.

In Kenya, the domestic non-electronic gaming scene is not quite vibrant as the market remains largely untapped with very few players in it compared to video gaming. A substantial number of easily accessible tabletop and board games are foreign with gaming spaces thinly spread across the country.

Kemoli, however, contended that its growth is on the right path, citing impressive growth in digital games.

"I have seen a lot of progress in the creation of the digital game with relatable materials for the Kenyan audience, for instance, we have a famous Kenya at 50 board game," Kemoli told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Her games retail for an average of 7,000 shillings (about 62.44 U.S. dollars) and she hopes more people can be aware of the importance of road safety.

"I did volunteer work from 2013-2020 at an organization focused on creating road safety messages. While there, I learned a great deal about road safety, and also how to identify problem areas so that is what I used as the foundation of the game," said Kemoli.

According to the NTSA, in Kenya, road traffic accidents are the third leading cause of death after malaria and HIV/AIDS. Out of some 3,000 people killed on Kenyan roads every year, nearly 50 percent are pedestrians.

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