Taiwanese independent game studio Red Candle (赤燭) is set to release the game Detention on game distribution platform Steam by the end of the year, introducing gamers to the various taboos that were extant in Taiwan because of religious traditions and the political atmosphere under the Martial Law era.
The game’s creator, Yao Shun-ting (姚舜庭), said the game seeks to use the inherent respect for, if not fear of, religion, as well as the fear of politics due to governmental oppression during the Martial Law era, in the service of the game’s horror genre.
The seemingly unrelated religious ceremonies and the Martial Law era are connected by fear, Yao said, adding that he thought that traditional religious ceremonies were one of the most attractive cultural elements of Taiwan.
Photo: Wu Po-wei, Taipei Times
Studio manager Yang Shih-wei (楊適維) said the game is filled with Taiwanese elements that would easily resonate with local gamers, such as the appearance of jiaoweifan (腳尾飯), shrines on which statuettes of deities are placed with their red lighting and anti-Communist slogans commonly seen in the Martial Law era in Taiwan.
In the traditional Taiwanese custom of jiaoweifan, the family of the deceased places a bowl of rice, with some meat and vegetables and a pair of chopsticks sticking out from it, by the rear end of the coffin, in the hopes that the newly deceased will have the strength to reach the underworld. The shrine, a table on which a statuette or a plaque of ancestors is placed, uses red lighting due to the belief that the color red is auspicious and helps ward off bad luck.
The game does not specify which period the story is set in, and Yang said the intent is to portray, in as many ways as possible, the culture and history of Taiwan.
Yang said the game is not meant to impose upon gamers a certain point of view, but to encourage them to research the history of the period and draw their own conclusions.
Yang said it is hoped that Detention would not only be a form of entertainment, but also serve as a platform on which foreign players would be able to gain knowledge of Taiwan’s unique culture, pointing to the success of Japan’s popularization of the ninja through computer and console games, as well as through other forms of media.
The studio, like most other independent teams in the nation, lacked a flagship product that would make its name and faces problems securing funding, Yang said.
Taiwanese investment in gaming industry innovation remains conservative, and there are no guarantees that the product will be profitable, he added.
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