Mandela 'game' to teach young about apartheid

Plans have been announced to turn Nelson Mandela's time in prison at South Africa's infamous Robben Island into a video game.

The people behind the new project, launched at Cape Town's gateway to Robben Island on Thursday, say it will be designed as an educational tool.

The project, called Mandela 27, aims to help children understand his life and will see Mandela's story told through the game and a website. There will also be a mobile reconstruction of the prison cell where the he spent 18 of his 27 years (1963-1990) behind bars.

It will tour the UK, South Africa, Sweden and Belgium from 2014 and aims to draw on cultural links between South Africa and Europe during the apartheid era, such as Nelson Mandela's 70th birthday concert at London's Wembley Stadium.

The EU-funded project will see Coventry University's Serious Games Institute do some of the work on the game, which has been described as a "serious game" not purely for entertainment.

Players will see scenes of typical prison life, such as labourers breaking rocks, and discussions are still ongoing as to whether Mandela, whose image use requires permission, may be a character in the game.

"The Nelson Mandela Story in Robben Island is the link promoting intercultural dialogue," the people behind the project say. "The display of Mandela's cell including the cultural works will promote interest in the project. The map and the graphic serious game will support the circulation of cultural /artistic works to tens of thousands of young people in the medium they are most familiar with. Crowd sourcing allows cross contribution. This is a true collaboration with SA partners supplying content/building the cultural game and EU partners who are expert in cultural learning/dissemination/serious games allowing the mobility of experts in graphic design/games design/cultural learning and cultural exchange across both regions."

The interactive website will be launched next month and life-size prison cells modelled on Mandela's cell will also be built for exhibitions.

The physical display of Mandela's cell will be the same dimension as his cell in Robben Island; it will house several photographic displays and three screens showing the cultural platform which takes the form of the plan of Robben Island.

Mr Mandela developed a philosophy of forgiveness when on the island and, after release, became South Africa's first President elected by all South Africans of all races.

Image: © Getty

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