|Updated||Jul 21, 2014 (6 years ago)|
River Rush is an indigenous-focussed/environmentally-charged game based on the Waikato River and its cultural significance to the people of Waikato-Tainui, one of New Zealand’s largest indigenous tribal groups.
Developed to provide a fun learning experience primarily for youth (6 to 12 years), ultimately our goal is to share our story with the world and we want everyone on the planet to be part of the River Rush journey.
River Rush is based on two teenaged characters – a boy named Tama and a girl named Poppy who must travel along the river in a traditional Maori canoe completing a series of quests; each task at the behest of the “river” personified by an elderly woman named Nanny Wai.
Once gamers select their character, the game starts by players paddling down river in a canoe which involves swiping left or right in a scrolling mini game that has 3 lanes. The lanes contain obstacles that must be avoided by changing to a lane with a clear path.
Obstacles like swooping birds need to be ducked under by swiping along the screen. There are floating logs that need to be swiped right to get through and a mutant pest fish that chases the character along the way. The first time the character hits an obstacle the creature gets closer. Hit another obstacle and the character gets caught and the player has to start the level again.
An underwater ecology viewpoint is included in the game. During this stage the player must navigate three of New Zealand’s native fish species – koura (freshwater crayfish), kanae (river mullet) and matamata (whitebait) - through an underwater challenge avoiding man-made and natural obstacles. If the player hits an obstacle, they must start the stage again.
Along the journey the character must stop at a range of adventure scenes including a creek with jumping tuna (eel), cows that have escaped from a farm, a Marae (a cultural community facility) with a hidden supply of native plants, a city with a recreational playground and others.
It is at the adventure scene that the player is required to fulfil the quest given by Nanny Wai.
Eventually at the journeys end the player paddles to the mouth of the river to be greeted by Nanny Wai. She encourages the player to share their leanings with the world before she morphs into the river itself. The game has a bittersweet ending where the player is triumphant over completing the game but is also aware of the poor health of the river.
All quests are underpinned by environmental and social issues that impact on the river. By completing a quest, the player is able to collect items that can be used to assist them along the way, which ultimately helps to restore the health and wellbeing of the river.
A number of conservational issues are highlighted including the need to eliminate rubbish and pollution, the threat of pest species and the need to improve the preservation of the native fish stocks.
From an educational perspective the game promotes the care of natural resources including flora and fauna, fish life and water quality. It also promotes customary cultural activities, the cultural significance of the River and some Maori language. All of which are an integral part of the history and future for the people of Waikato-Tainui.
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