Timbi World - Play for Fun. Make a Difference in the Real World.
When we think of video games most of us will picture an experience that is purely about entertainment. Gamers spend countless hours in digital worlds exploring, defeating enemies, racing, solving puzzles, and collecting in-game currency to upgrade characters and unlock abilities. What if we could take what players unlock and earn during gameplay and translate that into philanthropic rewards in real life?
This idea was put into practice by a team of innovative developers: Ricardo Climent, founder of Keep•It•Human, along with Alena Mesarosava (Game Architect) and Manu Ferrer (3D models and rigging) of Manusamo & Bzika, have created their musical MMO title: Timbi World. In this game the rewards that you unlock during the game translate into rewards that are unlocked in the real world!
You can do this by unlocking the in-game currency of 'rhythmic energy' to exchange for charitable donations. For instance, if you exchange your rhythmic energy for an in-game skateboard you are helping Timbi World donate an educational skate pack to Maputo Skate in Mozambique, Africa. Through Timbi World's efforts with the Maputo Skate Project hundreds of children are now able to access a skate sporting program to keep them away from gang culture, substance use, and other crimes - pretty cool!
WHAT TIMBI WORLD DOES DIFFERENTLY
Most of us are familiar with the traditional methods of gaming philanthropy, a common example being a Twitch stream fundraiser where viewers can donate for a cause. Humble Bundle is another great example that a lot of us are familiar with; donations are made at the point of sale of a game or subscription with a portion of the sale going to a cause. These are fantastic and have done a lot of good for the world, but what if we could have a new way to blend gaming and philanthropy?
Timbi World has brought the experience of supporting a good cause even closer to players by tying the efforts of gameplay itself directly to the rewards of giving in the real world. When players in Timbi World unlock that in-game skateboard knowing that a real child in need will get to use a skateboard too, a real element of human connection is added that can bring a richness to the overall gameplay experience that I do not think we have really seen yet in the gaming industry. This experience is state of the art for gaming philanthropy and has so much potential for all kinds of different games.
You start out as a calabash (a type of gourd) on a musical archipelago set in sunny Mozambique, Africa. Humans have mostly moved away from the islands to live in cities and the rich musical heritage of the Chopi people is fated to disappear as a result. Your goal is to bring music back to the islands! Play with others and attend live musical events as you explore the islands and bring back the musical vibes. You can even travel through time!
hang out with fellow calabashes
As you explore the open-world islands you will find hidden music and solve musical puzzles, and depending on when you play you could find yourself in a huge crowd of fellow musical calabashes! Music is a constant element in the game as you explore the island with laid-back ambient beats and the airy and energetic sounds of the Chopi Timbila instruments. You can play with your current friends or meet new friends in this musical MMO.
collect music patterns to play
The level design was made to resemble the climate of Mozambique which resulted in a warm, pleasant, and relaxing 3D island environment to explore. The graphics suffice for this and are decently visually appealing, but the game could benefit from a bit of graphical refinement as far as things like the UI and some of the textures/shaders go. Currently the game is limited to keyboard controls, but I hope to see gamepad controls implemented soon as well! Layout of the islands were well thought out spatially with the player having plenty of areas to explore and socialize while being able to be easily expanded on as new content and areas are added over time. Currently a new island update featuring a mysterious new instrument is in the works ; )
A lot of time and effort was put into the design of the musical instruments in the game, and it shows! The main instruments in the game are exact scale replicas of instruments used by the Chopi people of Africa, including an 18-key Timbila and Bass Timbila (both pictured below). The audio was engineered by the NOVARS Research Centre at Manchester University to replicate the real-life sounds of the instruments. Miquel Bernat from the NOVARS group went on multiple trips to Mozambique to learn to play the instruments and compose music for the game. The result? Authentic music of the Chopi people that everyone can listen to and learn to play in this digital environment. It serves as a way to connect our digital experience to a human experience with some catchy beats! The audio response from tapping the Timbilas is precise and the audio quality is fantastic. The 3D models are nicely detailed and look like their real-world counterparts.
Character design adds to the fun of the game as well - you are essentially a walking instrument! The lighthearted calabash character is unique and suits the theme of Timbi World. As the game develops there is a lot of opportunity for further avatar customization options to become available, as currently all of the players use the same calabash character. In the meantime the player and NPC design suit the organic and relaxed island environment well and make for great in-game screenshots to share with friends or on social media.
LIVE MUSIC EVENTS
This game has also laid a solid foundation for supporting live music events that you can attend with other players. This virtual live event platform works so that artists are able to broadcast to players from their living room and players can be a part of the event from the comfort of wherever their gameplay device is. At the time of this article the game has hosted an in-game concert featuring the Giga-Herz-Preis 2020 winner artist Mark Pilkington and new virtual music festival events are being planned for 2021 that you can join in on!
Timbi World has the potential to make some big waves as a pioneer in the philanthropic gaming scene - it has also set the stage to connect in-game musical entertainment and the human experience of giving in a way we have not really seen yet. This game will definitely be one to watch as Keep•It•Human and Manusamo & Bzika expand on this promising gaming architecture. Follow them in the links below to stay updated on upcoming Timbi World events that you can join in on!
Play now here, multiplayer is always available!
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