Camp Antioch

Hello, and welcome to our game, Camp Antioch, which features a Japanese-American teenager and his experience in the 1940s Internment Camps. An RPG that focuses on heavy narrative and character interaction, our protagonist, Nisei Himura 緋村 二世, must balance complex issues of loyalty to family, loyalty to the internment community around him, and loyalty to himself as well. The game requires the main character to explore his surroundings and to interact with the environment and people – including both the guards and other inmates – around him in order to collect items that will eventually lead to one of three conclusions of the narrative story. The story of our Nisei will show the player the dire situation of individuals placed in the camps in an enjoyable, interactive approach to experiencing a side of American history that has been largely ignored. Camp Antioch, largely based off of Camp Poston in Arizona, serves as a blend of real history with creative narrative in order to give the player a meaningful experience.

Here is a list of everyone who created the project and some information about them:

JD Dotson is a Chemistry major from Nashville, TN. He enjoys sports game such as Madden, 2K, and FIFA; he also enjoys a mixture of RPGs at some point. He has an interest in WWII, which helped lead to the topic of the project.

Madison Garcia is an English major from Jacksonville, FL. She loves anything and everything Nintendo, particularly Zelda and Pokémon, and plays indie games on Steam because she wants to start a new race of hipster gamers. She is very interested in Japanese culture, which helped inspire part of this project.

Andrew Salchli is a history major with a politics minor from Bowling Green, KY. He enjoys first-person shooter games and Madden NFL games. Andrew is very interested in the history around World War II and the years that surround it.

Richard (Trey) Hughes is an English major and Creative Writing minor from Louisville, KY. He enjoys indie games such as Deadbolt and LISA along with games such as Skyrim and the Witcher 3. He has an interest in the history of the American West and oppression in general.

All in all, Group Desolation has had a very wonderful CentreTerm, and we enjoyed the academic aspect of gathering historical research along with the creative energy required to translate that onto the screen. We feel Camp Antioch portrays a compelling story of the suffering caused by mass panic, racism, and war. Group Desolation would like to thank the other members of History 482 and Dr. Harney for giving us the opportunity to take a unique approach to both history and game development. We would also like to thank all who played the game and gave it, along with the real-life stories of those who were unfortunate enough to have experienced the living Internment Camps, a sense of purpose.


Here is a list of the most useful research books, both primary and secondary:

  1. Cahan, Richard, et al. Un-American: the Incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War CityFiles Press, 2016.
  2. Hoshida, George, and Tamae Hoshida. Taken from the Paradise Isle: the Hoshida Family Story. Edited by Heidi Kim, University Press of Colorado, 2016.
  3. Kikuchi, Charles. The Kikuchi diary: chronicle from an American concentration camp, the Tanforan journals. Edited by John Modell. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993.
  4. Nishimoto, Richard S, and Lane Ryo Hirabayashi. 1995. Inside an American Concentration Camp: Japanese American Resistance at Poston, Arizona. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
  5. Roger Daniels, Sandra C. Taylor, Harry H.L. Kitano, ed. Japanese Americans from Relocation to Redress. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1986
  6. Weglyn, Michi. Years of Infamy: the Untold Story of America’s Concentration Camps. University of Washington Press, 199

Here is a list of the most useful video games that helped give Group Desolation inspiration for gameplay mechanics:

  1. The Escapists
  2. Papers, Please
  3. LISA
  4. Sometimes Always Monsters
  5. Hellblade

 

Group Desolation: The Items

 

We have decided that the game will operate as an item-collecting game for the most part. Each of the three ending decisions – either partake in a riot, escape using the riot as a cover, or stay and protect the family from intruders – must have specific items acquired in order to trigger the end riot. Our original game, was this to be a full game, would have full-length narrative quests that would eventually lead to getting these items. Since this is unfeasible in the amount of time we have, we are making the game so that a couple of items are purchasable in a shop, and Nisei will be making money every delivery he makes so he can buy those items. Here is a list of all items that must be acquired:

Machete
Works for all three categories. He will use this in the riot scene either to help cut his way through barbed wire to protect his family from intruders, or to behead Jed and some of the other guards.
In the original game, Nisei will need to be a part of the Firebreak Gang (a group of Nisei who has their hearts set on rebelling and gathering materials, i.e. dumpster diving). There are mini-quests involved, such as kissing a girl to acquire her bobby pin that will be used in lieu of a key, that will lead to Nisei and a friend breaking into Jed’s office and stealing his machete on the wall. (Nisei will have made a replica wooden carving to replace it with, like Indiana Jones). Instead, we will simply have Nisei purchase the machete.

Quilt
This is an item that the player will actually work for in the game. He will befriend a woman named Diane Miyamoto, an American whose late husband was Japanese, and since her children are Japanese, she is forced to live in the camp with them to take care of them. Her eldest daughter, Theresa, is ill; Diane asks Nisei to befriend Theresa, and there is a heartwarming scene where they make paper cranes from Nisei’s newspaper stash.
The next time Nisei will talk to Diane, she tells him that Theresa has died, and she asks Nisei to help her bury the body. As a reward since Diane cannot afford to keep all of Theresa’s stuff, she gives the quilt to Nisei.
This quilt serves in the ‘survival’ category as Nisei will use it as a blanket.

Flask and Molotov Cocktail
While the flask is labeled under the ‘survival’ category and the Molotov under ‘riot’, both are acquired from the same quest. These two items will be in the actual game as well.
Nisei will speak to Sango Watanabe, the wife of alcoholic husband Hideyoshi. She tells Nisei that she is sick of his drinking habits since they are causing the family to go broke, and she essentially asks Nisei to steal the alcohol from Hideyoshi next time he passes out. When Hideyoshi does pass out, Nisei will venture into his room and has the option of taking either the flask, the Molotov, or both.

Reports on Father’s Arrest
Taking the same action that applies to the above machete, Nisei breaks into Jed’s desk and finds reports on his father’s arrest. While most of the content has been blacked out, Nisei discerns that his father will remain in jail permanently, which angers him to no end.
Our group is discussing whether this will be an item in the actual game or not considering this would be a weird thing to purchase from a store.

Fur Gloves
After a nisei, Ben Akutagawa, tells Nisei about a hole in which jackrabbits get into from the outside wall. After learning that his sister, Naomi, has been getting cold. Nisei slays the jackrabbits and skins them to make gloves for her.

Gauze
Akane has been getting scars from her work, so Nisei purchases gauze for her from the market.

Preservatives
After finding that Satoshi, Nisei’s little brother, needs more food, Nisei goes dumpster diving to get some for him.

Group Desolation: Characters & Anecdotes

Seeing as most of our group’s blog posts have been updates, today I’m going to take a change of pace and instead discuss an interesting person we’ve come across in our research who will heavily influence a character in our game.
Since our game features a main character who is employed by a barracks manager, we’ve decided to draw inspiration from a man named Rich Nishimoto who worked at camp Poston. Nishimoto is the perfect person who existed in true history to base a barracks manager of off. Let me explain why.

Who was he?

Image result for richard shigeaki nishimoto hq

Rich Nishimoto was born in 1904 Japan. From primary school throughout high school, Nishimoto spent his schooling years at prestigious boarding schools while his parents moved to San Fransisco. In Japan, he attended an Episcopalian school, where he learned English and was exposed to American culture. He eventually graduated Stanford with a B.S. in Engineering and got his first dose of racism so painful, he dropped an engineering career altogether. At a senior banquet, when businesses were recruiting seniors, Rich noticed he was being neglected; when he asked a friend why, his friend replied, “Look at your face. It’s Oriental. No one will hire you.”

Between this time and when he was relocated to Poston, Rich worked for brokerage firms, courts, and as a translator; he also met a woman, Yae, and had two children with her. In 1942, the family was moved to Poston, where a friend told him “[you] have the appearance of a Nisei, and act like one, yet [your] thoughts are typically those of intelligent Issei.” Within a couple months of relocation, Nishimoto became foreman of the Firebreak Gang, a group of Japanese laborers who cleared debris. He was voted block personnel and resolved disputes quickly and efficiently, a result of his extensive education. He was very active in peaceful camp protests, doing things such as resigning official positions and boycotting to get his point across. He used his social skills to recruit Nisei and intelligence and connection to Japanese culture to recruit Issei and cleverly intimidated those who didn’t want to participate in participating (including cripples & the blind). He became the official supervisor of the overall camp, observing and gathering information from the internees to document the result of the internment camps for the Bureau of Sociological Research (BSR). To put in perspective how much the BSR respected him: the average sum for Poston employees was $14/month; $19/month for doctors, dentists, medical personnel etc.; Nishimoto was making $80/month in his prime. He was nothing short of a weapon due to his education, experience in business and social analysis and data research, connections to all Poston leaders, block manager, and connections to both Issei and Nisei communities.

Thanks for that long, boring history lesson, but how does he fit into the game?

The character in our game has been renamed Rich Fujimoto because he is not a carbon copy of Nishimoto. What will carry over are his levels of intelligence, his job (in all areas), his leadership and speaking skills, his aversion to racism, and his cleverness. What will not carry over are his family (they will not be mentioned), and clearly we will not be explaining all this biographical information in the game. Hopefully, we will be able to carry over these traits to Fujimoto and make his level of education and leadership ability apparent to the player.

From what we have read so far about Nishimoto, he appears empathetic yet straightforward and unwavering. While we hope that Fujimoto can carry these same qualities as well, he is currently ambiguous and a little darker than Nishimoto. In the game, Fujimoto attempts to convince Nisei to join in on protesting, but nonviolently. It is a running theme in the game that Nisei is very similar to his father, something that screws him over with Jed, the head guard, who puts him on watch, but who earns the respect from Fujimoto as he sees the potential of harnessing the same fiery passion in the Himura men. Fujimoto opens by mentioning Nisei’s name and connecting it to personality:
…Himura? What a haunting but beautiful name: Red Town. A symbol of blood, fire, the sacred forces of life.”
As the first encounter between Nisei and Fujimoto continues, Fujimoto indirectly states that he is planning something against the government, but is ambiguous for safety reasons (also, it will sound badass). He guides and warns Nisei about his job and how it will fit into a larger plan. Here is a quip from the current script (subject to change):

The line “if you kick a dog around several times, eventually, he will bite you” was an actual saying Nishimoto used to recruit Nisei into his peaceful rebellions. I love this line because it’s a strong image and represents exactly how Nishimoto was thinking, and it also shows that he knows exactly what was going on. I truly hope we can convey this in the rest of the game as well.
Due to the shortness of the game, it is unlikely that Nisei will be speaking to Fujimoto often, so we will have to find a way to get all of these aspects of Nishimoto into Fujimoto with very limited space, but I have hope that it will turn out well.


The source for biographical information on Nishimoto:

Nishimoto, Richard S, and Lane Ryo Hirabayashi. 1995. Inside an American Concentration Camp: Japanese American Resistance at Poston, Arizona. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Group Desolation: Getting Settled

Today is the day where our group gets our bearings around who the characters are, how the actual storyline and gameplay will operate, and what the map looks like and how to interact with it.

Characters

The protagonist’s family, which will include himself, two siblings (of both genders), his mother, and absent father will carry the name Himura 緋村, which translates to “Red Town”. We are planning on allowing the name to affect certain symbolic events in the game; primarily, Desolation has been drafting some sort of dream sequence. The protagonist’s name will not be mentioned in the game; rather, he will be referred to as “Nisei”, which is the term given to second generation Japanese children born to “Isei”, those who were born in Japan. The two siblings, Satoshi and Naomi, are younger than our protagonist. While the mother, Akane, will play a role in attempting to keep the family together, the fact that the father (who is arrested in the beginning of the game and will only be referred to as “father”) is gone will make her tired, overworked, and pitiful. Along with the family, we have other Japanese inmate characters who will play a role. Currently, these side characters’ roles are undefined, but the idea is that Nisei can either interact with them, work in cohorts with them, or fight with them. Our main guard, Jed Weinstock, will act as the main antagonist in the game as he has a lot of control over the inmates. Nisei has a job (as did many of the inmates) as a paperboy, and he will report to a manager named Rich Fujimoto, who will act as a secondary antagonist.

Gameplay Plot and Goals

The game will begin with the Himura family arriving at camp and realizing that they no longer have a father in their lives anymore. After the family gets instruction on where to build their development, Nisei will attempt to gather materials for their dwelling along with other necessities (finding food, locating the bathrooms, etc). Once this is finished, Nisei will talk to job official Rich Fujimoto and will receive his job assignment of paperboy, which is the most heralded job for someone of his age and gender.

At this point in time, Nisei realizes the weight of the situation – he must have a job and serve as a replacement ‘man of the house’ for the rest of his family. The player then can build towards two main decisions: either stay in the camp and gather resources to fend for the family or fend for himself and work towards escaping. The player can only build towards one of those options, not both.

Whatever the player does choose, main gameplay will remain the same. Nisei will speak to (shady) people on his paper route and will learn how to get extra money on his paper route, one of which will be betting in card games.

Map

Thanks to Trey tinkering around with RPG Maker, we’ve been able to properly develop a blueprint map for our game. Attached is a video of Trey showing the map that he made, so I’ll let him take it away from here.

Group Desolation: Start Game

Greetings from Group Desolation. Trey, JD, and Andrew have teamed up with me to create an RPG-style game in which we have a young Japanese American who has been taken away to a (currently unnamed) internment camp. He is in love with an American-born girl, and the game consists of two main ideas: finding ways to contact the love interest, and gathering materials that can help the protagonist and his family escape the camp. The game is going to focus more on suspense, dialogue, and political dynamics within the camp and in surrounding areas rather than action.
Of course, this idea has just been born, so there might be some major revisions on the way, but this is our current end goal.