Video games typically offer players an escape from reality by transporting them everywhere from faraway lands and parallel universes to professional football fields and race tracks.
However, an upcoming digital media workshop will empower college students to share Native Hawaiian stories through video games – an entertaining and educational way to immerse players in the sights, sounds, culture and people of the Pae ‘Āina.
Kanaeokana – the kula Hawai‘i network of ʻōlelo Hawai‘i, Hawaiian culture and ʻāina-based schools from the preschool to university level aimed at strengthening Hawaiian education – is offering the culture-based video game production workshops entitled “He Au Hou,” – the new era. Kamehameha Schools is among the educational partners of the network.
The free three-week workshop, entitled “Telling Mo‘olelo through Video Games,” is slated for July 17 through Aug. 4, at Hālau ʻĪnana ma Kapaʻakea in Moili‘ili (see sidebar for details).
It is being held in collaboration with Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC) and the Initiative for Indigenous Futures (IIF) in Canada. AbTeC and IIF have held four previous workshops for indigenous youth in the Montreal area in their successful “Skins: Workshops on Aboriginal Storytelling in Digital Media” series.
“The inaugural He Au Hou collaboration between Kanaeokana, AbTeC, and IIF brings together scholars, artists, technologists and practitioners to plant seeds for the future, carving out space for Kānaka Maoli in the cyber world and giving new mana to our moʻolelo,” said KS Kanaeokana Content Strategy Lead Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada.
He Au Hou began on March 10 with a one-day workshop on “Telling Mo‘olelo through Comics” led by New York Times bestselling author Marjorie Liu, who worked on popular Marvel titles such as “X-23,” “The Astonishing X-Men,” “Han Solo,” and “Black Widow.”
Kanaeokana strives to integrate world-class, culture-based education as part of a network of Native Hawaiian schools and via collaborations within communities. The effort can be scaled via projects like creating video games through storylines from mo‘olelo to improve the broader educational system serving Native Hawaiian learners within a thriving lāhui.
“This is an innovative approach to telling stories, while also sharing our peoples’ values in different ways by talking to kids where they live,” says KS Kealaiwikuamo‘o director of Network Engagement Ryan “Gonzo” Gonzalez. “The intent is to seed the program with the initial group of students so that they feel empowered to continue within the field until the tree is fully grown. We’re infiltrating cyberspace in a good way.”
Upon completing the workshops, students will have created a playable video game based on a moʻolelo they have chosen, which can be further developed and polished. Some participants will also be invited to facilitate workshops and similar projects in the future, with the goal of creating generational abundance, as Kuwada explains, “in this ‘virtual ʻāina’ the same way we do on our real-world ʻāina, with kaikuaʻana (older sibling or cousin) nurturing kaikaina (younger sibling or cousin), all for the benefit of the lāhui.”
The network is made up of Hawaiian-focused charter schools, DOE kula kaiapuni schools, ʻAha Pūnana Leo schools, Ka Huli Preschools, KS preschools, KS campuses, Hawaiian-focused areas within the UH System and organizations with an aligned focus.
Kanaeokana is supported by Kealaiwikuamo‘o, a division within KS’ Kūamahi Department, which facilitates and supports the needs of the network. The KS team provides communications services, advances network projects and initiatives and produces resources for network members that amplify Hawaiian perspectives, all of which play a crucial role in Kamehameha’s strategic plan and vision.
Kanaeokana, which couples nae (a fine-meshed netting upon which feathers were secured to make ‘ahu‘ula, or feather capes) and Kana (a powerful kupua, or demigod, who took the form of cordage that could grow to extraordinary lengths and shapes and served as a hero in multiple mo‘olelo) is an apt descriptor for the kula Hawai‘i network. When bound together, the name suggests that “a network of extraordinary strength, flexibility and diverse forms can tackle formidable challenges and create works of unsurpassed beauty.”
To learn more about Kanaeokana, visit its website kanaeokana.net and Facebook page @Kanaeokana.
Strategic Plan 2020
SP 2020 is a five-year strategic plan that will guide Kamehameha Schools from 2015 to 2020. The plan marks a starting point toward KS’ vision 2040, which envisions success for all Native Hawaiian learners. These collaborative efforts will help to support Goal 1 and Action 2 for FY16-17 of SP2020 – delivering world-class, culture-based education through a network of Native Hawaiian schools, inclusive of our KS schools and Native Hawaiian charter and immersion schools.