Thursday, 18 July 2013

What does KOUK mean?

First let's go through some background info about the project. 

I'm from Mauritius, a beautiful island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It's known mainly for being a tourist destination and the place where the extinct Dodo used to live. 

It is a multicultural country with an array of cultures, wholly made up of migrant populations of different ethnicities. The adaptation and mixing of those different cultures over centuries have created a rich cultural heritage. One such heritage is traditional Mauritian architecture also known as colonial or Creole architecture.

Beautiful traditional houses are unfortunately being destroyed at an alarming rate, and the ones that remain dotted around the island can often be found in dire conditions. The reality is that the high cost of maintenance and renovation makes it very tempting for people to demolish and make way for concrete.

House in Port-Louis

For my MSc project, I wanted to create an artefact that would celebrate Mauritian traditional houses in a way that would appeal to children. At first, my idea was to create an interactive environment where the user would walk around a traditional house and click on hotspots that would reveal interesting facts about features of the house. 
An early storyboard

I asked for feedback from various people about the basic idea (you know who you are!). What was flagged up was that there was a lack of goal/incentive to explore the environment. 

Finally, the idea evolved so that the user would be looking for characters hiding in the environment. It would not involve only one house, but several houses in a wider environment and the exploration would be more implicit. The player would be given hints related to a feature of the house, close to where the character is hiding. 

KOUK (as in kouk-kassiet) means hide-and-seek in Mauritian Creole. I must say that while I was trying to find traditional houses in Mauritius to research on, I had the feeling they were playing kouk with me...

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