Responses by Dirk van Ginkel, creative director, Jam3
Background: To move forward as a society, it helps to look back at past injustices. Using immersive storytelling, we’re educating an audience with a learn-through-gameplay type experience to show what it was like when the Canadian government exiled the Japanese-Canadian community to internment camps.
Reasoning: We wanted to create an enticing solution for the digital native Gen Z users who are ready to embrace brands and services that understand their needs and interests. According to Jon Sundt’s article in the Huffington Post, “When we match a digital relationship with the influence of storytelling, we have the ability to empower young people to make a difference.”
Challenges: Translating a traditional script, written by the 84-year-old Joy Kogawa, into an interactive narrative for a new exciting technology like AR comes with its challenges. AR breaks the traditional 18:4 frame and enables users to move around a physical space, so we wanted to ensure that our substantive story respected the space, history and technology.
Favorite details: The story itself. The project began with Joy Kogawa—famed author, poet, activist, member of the Order of Canada, the Order of British Columbia as well as Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun. Joy is also a former internee at one of British Columbia’s Japanese-Canadian internment camps. Working with Joy, she opened a lot of doors with other ex-internees and developed a story that not only is based on true events, but also is an intergenerational story that is close to many Japanese-Canadians. The story includes real people and we had the honor to work with third generation Japanese-Canadians who told us their stories and why it is relevant in today’s world.
Visual influences: When we started the project, we traveled to the Rockies to see what the conditions were like from 1942 to 1947. It was dark and grim with no electricity, so we wanted to look at ways to create mood lighting that respected the story itself. To do so, we collected references we liked and, most notably, we thought video games Firewatch, Journey and The Long Dark were all great references in terms of lighting and texturing overall.
Specific demands: We developed the story from scratch. There were no clients involved; this can be very hard, but we have learned that we are hard on ourselves because we always strive to achieve the best work possible.