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Khoj Games at Southbank Centre’s Alchemy Festival

19 May – 29 May 2017 at Southbank Centre, London

The Southbank Centre’s Alchemy Festival showcases the dynamic creativity and cultural connections between South Asia and the UK. For this year’s edition of the festival, Khoj was invited to present three games from its Of Games residencies: Khirkee 2027 by Vinit Nikumbh, Trapezium by Mario D’Souza and Sanket Jadia, and Walk of Life by Thukral and Tagra.

Khirkee 2027 is loosely modelled on the framework of a first person shooter (FPS) game. But unlike the FPS scenario where the objective is the act of killing, Khirkee 2027 is perceived through the lens of a girl, a migrant. There are no guns; instead there are questions of identity, of racial politics and gender. The game starts in the year 2027, with the player wandering through Khirkee, a district of Delhi, seeing it through the eyes of the main protagonist. The landscape becomes narrative device, like a cross between a graphic novel and game, changing as the player wanders. As you explore the world of the game, you’ll explore ideas around the status of first and second generation migrants in an increasingly fractured futuristic world.

Trapezium uses narrative devices, gameplay and storytelling to question mainstream stories found in media and popular culture about the region. The game abstracts the map of Kashmir into a trapezium-shaped puzzle, with pieces that reveal stories from each district and region of the valley. Through the game, players are introduced to Kashmiri lives and the people’s experience of living side by side with the Indian army. The game provides a safe and playful space for participants to have a frank and otherwise challenging dialogue.

Walk of Life looks at the idea of play from cultural, strategic, and psychological perspectives. Ganjifa, the ancient Indian game on which it is based, was originally played with a set of 120 cards. Artists Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra have turned it into a board game depicting Dashavatara, the ten earthly incarnations of the Hindu god Vishnu. The avatars can also be understood to represent the evolution of mankind from fish, to reptile, to mammal, to human, to deity.