Two PC games for you, one old and one new – and both as Gaeilge.
The first is the multilingual platformer Dead Hungry Diner from the Derry-based Irish startup company Black Market Games, which is now available in Irish as An Caife Craosach. A report from TechCentral:
“Irish-speaking gamers will have something fun to look forward to for Halloween with the release of the first computer game as Gaeilge. Foras na Gaeilge, the North/South Irish Language Promotional Body, and Black Market Games have released An Caife Craosach (Dead Hungry Diner), funded through the Scéim Nuálachais.
The game is a fast-paced action-puzzler where the player chooses the character of Gabe or Gabby, orphan twins from Ravenwood Village, to serve the restaurant’s unique customers. The aim of the game is to seat, serve and satisfy a variety of monsters but you need be quick before they get impatient and leave without paying.
Lee Fallon from Derry-based Black Market Games said: “Given that we are an Irish gaming company we thought that a game in Irish would appeal to Irish speaking gamers. We were surprised to hear that it hadn’t been done before and were delighted when Foras na Gaeilge came on board.”
An Caife Craosach is available in DVD or through Digital Download. It can be purchased or downloaded from www.deadhungrydiner.com…”
“TALL, BROAD, bald and bearded, Owen Harris, lead game designer for BitSmith Games, could be one of the characters from Kú. The company’s new videogame takes inspiration from Celtic folklore, with a dash of steampunk, and is currently in the final stages of development, in Dublin’s Digit Games incubator. Here, Harris discusses the game’s Irish roots
Why the Táin and why the Cú Chulainn myth?
I’ve always been interested in Ireland’s ancient history. There’s so much there that hasn’t been exposed. People like Tolkien dipped heavily into our past for inspiration. Greek mythology is everywhere – I don’t know how many harpies I’ve killed in videogames. But I’ve never killed a púca, or fought a Fomorian. And these are interesting archetypes, so the chance to show that people in a game is exciting. When we showed it overseas, people had inklings of these cool stories and given the chance to be exposed to it, they jump at it.
Do you think audiences are more open to something they’re only vaguely familiar with?
The biggest surprise with international audiences was with the Irish language. You can play it completely in Irish. Very few people in this country seem interested in that, but Americans, Germans and Scandinavians are as interested in seeing the language… as much as our mythology …we’re talking about going back to these old, primal stories that are part of what built our people’s psyche. And I think if Irish people were exposed to it in a modern way, they would be much more interested than they currently are.
Is that why you’ve introduced that steampunk element?
We started building it over a year ago at the height of all the stories about economic doom, so I guess we pulled in what was going on at that moment. I think it fits quite well – the idea of Ireland returning to this tribal time.
Is there a fear of alienating Táin purists?
Some people will be upset that we didn’t do a more direct translation. My response to that would be that these stories grow out of an oral tradition where it was constantly changing. …We’re inspired by the Táin; we’re not trying to re-tell it.
How was Foras na Gaeilge involved?
They’ve been a tremendous support. They looked over what we were doing and they’re helping us make sure the Irish translation is to the highest standard. There’s a huge amount of people learning Irish in the US. We want to make sure that if it’s being used as a tool, that it is correct.
What about the game’s look?
Our artist Basil [Lim] spent a lot of time in pre-production going to museums, looking at the Book of Kells, our native plants, trying to bring all of that influence and create this style that looks somewhere between Mad Max and Cú Chulainn. It’s probably the thing we’re proudest of in the whole game – blending Celtic and futuristic style.
Kú will be available for iPad in November, with versions for PC and Mac to follow.”
Website World Irish has an audio interview with Owen Harris, bitSmith’s game designer, that is well worth a listen. As someone who works in Ireland’s IT industry, albeit exclusively with the big international brands, it’s great to see indigenous Irish companies like this establishing themselves. For assistance with the introduction of the Irish language into your business Foras na Gaeilge operates the comprehensive support service GNÓ Mean Business. Gaeltacht-based companies can also seek Irish language support and investment from Údarás na Gaeltachta.
For more on Irish and Celtic mythology see my articles here.