Durga Puja Beyond Borders: An Educational Video Game about Global Indian Festival Cultures

A year ago, the educational video game The Durga Puja Mystery was released. Following the experiences from the development process and students’ play experiences, the creators now released a second game, Durga Puja Beyond Borders.

Both games, The Purga Puja Mystery and Durga Puja Beyond Borders, differ in many aspects, e.g., they focus on different world regions (India respectively Finland), are playable on different platforms (PC respectively phone) and draw from different game genres (mystery respectively management games). Yet, both provide an educational yet playful introduction to and gamified experience of Indian festival culture, by focusing on the arguably most popular and widespread Hindu festival Durga Puja. Today, Durga Puja is not only widely celebrated in India, but the festival is also a highly important event in global Indian communities.

Educational video games and their research and development have thrived as an academic field in roughly the past ten years. Researchers claim that games develope cognitive, practical, physiological skills, social skills, and motivation. Game-based learning and utilizing game-based environments for teaching are increasingly discussed.

Gameplay of the new game

Durga Puja Beyond Borders is an educational video game which uses aspects of management games to playfully yet educationally introduce various layers of Durga Puja festival culture, such as joint Durga Puja organizations and especially celebrations. It conveys educational content about the festival’s history and past and present ways of worshipping and jointly celebrating, in India and beyond. Moreover, it allows a glimpse into how festivals are important events and locations for migrant communities to live and negotiate identity, heritage and culture - beyond borders.

The festival Durga Puja has extensively traveled with Indian communities, beyond many geographical and cultural borders. Today, the festival is celebrated in many places all around the globe, places that have become home to Indian migrant communities. This game invites you to join the festival in an exemplary global Indian community, in the so-called Indian diaspora, in Helsinki, Finland. In Durga Puja Beyond Borders you play as Laura, who takes part in organizing and celebrating a Durga Puja event hosted by a local Indian community.

The Purga Puja Mystery

The educational video game The Durga Puja Mystery was released in 2020. It was developed to target mainly (beginner and intermediary level) university students in South Asian Studies, Religious Studies and Asian Studies and Cultural Studies broadly, but can be used in any other (educational and non-educational) context as it is easy to play also for persons who don't usually play video games. Read more on the game.

Both games are a collaborative effort of the University of Helsinki (Finland), Xenia Zeiler, and the Kolkata (India) based award-winning game development studio Flying Robot Studio, Satyajit Chakraborty. They were funded by the Future Development Fund, Faculty of Arts, and the Digiloikka Initiative of the University of Helsinki.

Both games are open access and we invite everyone to play!