The new George Orwell’s Animal Farm game, launched just last month, is an officially licensed, modern take on the world famous story.
Licensed by the Orwell Estate, with the approval of the official Orwell Foundation, and developed by Indie Development Collective The Dairymen and Nerial, creators of the BAFTA-nominated Reigns series, Animal Farm is a narrative, choice-based game that puts players at the centre of a revolution.
75 years after the story was first published in 1945, Orwell’s influential story can now be experienced by gamers, who, by choosing which of the animals’ wishes they follow – and who is ignored or sidelined – can influence the critical events that define the fate of Manor Farm.
Players must devise strategies to balance resources, defend the farm, and keep the animal population happy.
This is a knowingly political act of game development: The Dairymen co-founder Imre Jele grew up in Hungary behind the Iron Curtain, where he experienced totalitarianism first-hand.
The development team has watched with dismay as they’ve seen alternative truths, fact manipulation, and populism deployed in numerous countries around the world in the last decade or so. They feel that Orwell’s allegory has never been more relevant.
“We watched 2020 unfold with despair,” notes Project Founder Imre Jele, “and with a growing dread that our game is becoming more and more relevant every day.
“Even after a decade of populism, oppression and totalitarianism on the rise, it felt more vital than ever to bring Orwell’s study of inequity, control, and corrosive power to gamers.”
The indie developer collective behind the game consists of The Dairymen (Andy Payne founder of Just Flight, AppyNation and Imre Jele founder of Bossa Studios), and Nerial, the creators of the BAFTA-nominated Reigns series, who bring their unrivalled skills in streamlined and powerful storytelling to Animal Farm.
Writer Emily Short added her expertise and voice to the project, while actor Abubakar Salim (Assassin’s Creed: Origins) provided the game’s narration. Salim’s performance was directed by Kate Saxon (Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, Alien: Isolation, The Witcher 2 & 3, and others).
“Videogames excel at answering ‘what if?’ questions,” says Emily, who will be talking more about the creation of the game as part of a special online MeetUp event later this month.
“Our goal was to capture Orwell’s observations in a form that players can explore.
“We want players to experience the different animals’ viewpoints through the choices they make. Like this, our version of Animal Farm will bring the timeless fable to a new generation.”
Alongside the new game, a new Game Design Category has been announced for The Orwell Youth Prize, the brainchild of both The Orwell Foundation and The Dairymen’s Imre Jele. The prize is an annual programme for 12-18-year olds, which seeks to amplify the voices that go unheard and aims to give more young people the tools, confidence and platform to make an impact and change the world around them through their writing.
By creating a new Game Design category the idea is that more young people – including those who are typically underrepresented among entrants – will be encouraged to take part because they can write for a platform they love.
The Prize is open to anyone aged 12 – 18 who is at school or college, from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales. You don’t need to have participated in an Orwell Youth Prize Workshop to enter.
Steam, Humble, GMG and Epic Games Store $9.99 £7.99 €9.99 | App Store, Google Play, and Amazon’s App Store: $3.99 £3.99 €3.99.
• Emily Short will be talking about the design process for George Orwell’s Animal Farm at the online London IF Meetup at 2.00pm on Sunday 24th January 2020 — including some thoughts about adapting a book to game form, and some nuts and bolts around structuring a storylet-based narrative