Video games have been used as a way to tackle issues in society both past and present, but never before has one been about slavery from a child’s view.
There have been other games about slavery in the past, such as Mission 2: Flight to Freedom, The Underground Railroad: Journey to Freedom, and Freedom! by MECC. The problem with Freedom! is that it was found to be highly racist and was the subject of a lawsuit from an 11 year old boy. While Mission 2 and The Underground Railroad are both modern adventures, the few reviews they have are fairly mixed between good education resources and racist. I’m Joshua is still in it’s early stages and there isn’t much information released on it yet, so it’s unknown how the public will receive it.
I’m Joshua, developed by Dysotek and Andrea Rinaldi, will be released in three chapters. It focuses on an 11 year old boy who was born on a ship of slave drivers and sold into slavery. He works in the fields belonging to the Gallaway household, south-east of New Orleans. Joshua is like any average boy his age, except he must fight against the inhumane ways of a society not his own.
Dysotek develops 2D and 3D games for PC, HTML5, Flash, iOS, and Android. They have released several games since 2003, with more recent games including Cheecoting, Pallino d’Oro 2012, and Deadly Walkers.
Francesco Calvi, the founder of Dysotek, said in an email, “In the brainstorming we were thinking about an original plot for our adventure game. We got the idea thanks to the movie 12 Years a Slave.”
Unlike the movie though, the protagonist Joshua is a child, but the game is still for all ages. Calvi said it was because, “Children can change the world,” and wanted to refrain from having a similar character. The gameplay is inspired by Telltale’s The Walking Dead seasons one and two.
I’m Joshua will have many characters in the game to interact with, and having relationships with certain characters will have a significant effect on other characters and the story, though overall, decisions won’t affect the main storyline. “Obviously we can’t reach the quality of a game with millions [in] budget, but we hope to make a good game for the indie market.”
“We will encourage the positive social talking that can [be] born from the game,” Calvi said. He also hopes players will take away a brief and intense game experience. “We would give to the players strong emotions through the main scenes, and force them to fight with the ethics of [their] actions: choice of good actions, choice of bad actions…”
Dysotek is currently working on launching a Kickstarter campaign to put the game on Steam Greenlight, but they’re waiting until there’s a little more development to make a video trailer.
Right now, I’m Joshua is only planned to launch on PC, but more platforms will be considered after the release in 2016.