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Hi Guys, I am very excited to announce a new project that we will be working on called the MetaReality Project, we will be pushing the boundaries in historical game development but also in the storytelling and narration of African made games, so without any further ado here is a deep dive.

Project Brief:

Precolonial Africa has become difficult for students and the general public to understand and easily appreciate thanks to colonial systems of education which often obscured or distorted traditional beliefs and historical culture. This project relies on close readings of archival documents, collaboration with leading researchers, and strong ties with affected communities to ensure a respectful digital recreation of African narratives and landscapes.

Our intention is to craft compelling digital stories set in precolonial African spaces which will offer an immersive and engaging environment within which to learn about the past, better understand systems of trade, and recognise the continuity of African cultures. This project is primarily intended to reach an African audience, in addition to a global audience comprising people of African descent, students around the world, as well as providing educators with well researched and compelling new tools for learning. It represents an intersectoral collaboration bringing together the game development industry, the education sector, and new technologies developed for broad-based entertainment.  

Collaborators:

  1. Trent University
  2. Jiwe Studio
  3. Canadian University of Modern Technology - Sierra Leone (CUMT-SL),
  4. African Digital Media Institute (ADMI)
  5. Mitacs
  6. Walk With Web., Inc
  7. DRAGEN Lab, University of Waterloo


Part one of the project - Bunce Island, Sierra Leone

The first chapter of the MetaReality Project is situated in 18th century Bunce Island and the wider estuary around it in what is now Sierra Leone., The project is focused on digitally rebuilding Bunce Island and the present-day ruins. Through a narrative structure, the users will be guided through an immersive digital experience to learn more about the complex history which took place here. Using Unreal's Metahumans and Unreal Engine 4.26, our team is developing a photorealistic environment harnessing photogrammetry and GIS technologies to bring innovative new teaching and research to the public.

Bunce Island is a small (502.9 meter by 106.7 meter) island located upriver from Freetown in the country of Sierra Leone. Despite its size, its location roughly where the broad Sierra Leone River grows shallow made it an ideal spot for slave vessels to anchor safely, sheltered from the Atlantic by the larger Tasso Island while maintaining access to the complex river system of the interior and the slave trade there. This site saw 148000 enslaved Africans embarked, primarily at Bunce Island's slave fortress.


This project relies on our friends and collaborators around the world, who are generously contributing photos for references, archival sources, archaeological survey materials and satellite imagery, for this work. Many of these images were collected during our field trip to Sierra Leone in 2018 and 2019, organised for researchers of the Language of Marks project.

Freetown’s own media centre, We Own TV, captured drone footage of the present-day ruins on Bunce Island during the summer of 2021, which are being turned into digital assets suitable for use within the recreation. With local community voice actors and creatives provided by our partner institution, the Canadian University of Modern technology - Sierra Leone (CUMT-SL), this project will create narratives that will facilitate a journey back into the 18th century, when the slave fort on the Bunce Island was flourishing (including a golf course for European visitors, astonishingly!).


We anticipate that this work will be the first pilot of a far-reaching network of historical events recreated using sophisticated digital technologies, offering an entirely new way to engage with difficult pasts, permitting both Afro-descendants and learners to discover and experience histories that have shaped our present world.

More information about the project and the team visit: https://metareality.org/


"Bense [Bunce] Island and Fort, Sierra Leone, ca. 1727", Slavery Images: A Visual Record of the African Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Early African Diaspora, accessed March 19, 2021, Slavery Images


Internship opportunities for ADMI Students

UNREAL Engine Job descriptions on (This is a paid opportunity):

  1. Game development in the UNREAL Engine
  2. Environment layout in UNREAL engine
  3. Character and game asset creation in 3DS Max  
  4. Character manipulation using Meta-human (Should be willing to learn)
  5. Video editing and Sound engineering

Please apply using this link: https://forms.gle/JpnKsAqVn28cH4pv9

Open until Friday February 18th 2022


Interested in contributing to the project please contact me at max@jiwe.io


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