The Story of:

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Kihapai Playgroup, our game development studio, is a two-man team. Myself Eric, and my good friend, Jason.

Our story begins in the 1970s, when our mothers first met. At the time, they were young single sisters in nearby congregations. It was only natural that in the mid-80s when they married our fathers and we were born, we would become good friends. We went to the same school, belonged to the same congregation, and even lived on the same street (Kihapai).

Our childhood was filled with memories of field service, congregation picnics, and a Monday activity organized by the young mothers in our congregation. During these "playgroup" sessions, a different mom would take the lead each week, sometimes leading us on nature walks, sometimes teaching us arts and crafts, and sometimes even training us to clean and cook. (As a credit to our mothers and their hard work, to this day all of the boys in this original playgroup have remained in the truth, and in spite of us leading busy lives far from one another, we keep in touch almost daily!)

 

Another pastime that defined our childhood was video games. Many afternoons were spent after school in front of our Nintendo consoles. These digital worlds offered what seemed like infinite possibilities to us, and this shared interest would further cement our friendship, despite my family's sudden move across the country when I was just 13 years old.

Years later, in 2015, life would again present an unexpected opportunity, and Jason and myself, now both married to wonderful, spiritual women and busy with theocratic responsibilities, would once again find ourselves serving in the same congregation as need-greaters. We would serve together in this congregation for the next five years. We still loved video games, but we weren't playing them as nearly as much as we had in our younger years. Then, in late 2017, after an afternoon of service and work, the two of us found ourselves in the back corner of a local coffee shop.

"Wouldn't it be cool if we had our own game?" I asked my friend, referring to us as Witnesses. It didn't seem too farfetched at the time. We had our own music, our own movies, our own culture. But who would undertake such a unique project?

"Interesting," said my friend, now  a computer programmer. He sipped his americano pensively. "So what would this game be about?"

"Maybe it'd be about the clean up work after Armageddon," I suggested. My friend looked at me thoughtfully, but I could tell he wasn't convinced. How would this game work? What would the end goal be? Could you lose? And most importantly, would it be any fun?

We had more questions than answers at the time, and neither of us had any idea what actually went into a making and publishing a video game, but we jumped in all the same. We spent the following weeks researching and collecting the tools needed to build our own game. Within just a few months' time we found ourselves juggling hundreds of files' worth of artwork, computer code, and sound files.

And still it was only the beginning. Eventually, this initial project would be scrapped, and the premise would morph into something new, a game we called Project Paradise.

Of course, none of this would have happened had it not been for our mothers and our very special Kihapai Playgroup...

We're a couple of your brothers who grew up together playing video games and are busy creating one just for you.

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Jason and I trying out Microsoft Paint for the first time. Three decades later, this shark would become part of the logo for our game studio, Kihapai Playgroup!  (Photo taken in 1990)

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