INdigenous Games Design

Jack Kanai Hobbs IV

Welcome to my world of Indigenous (Individual Native Indigenous) Game Design, where passion meets purpose and gaming becomes a meaningful experience. Meet Luna Hale Paahao (Dungeon Master) Jack Kanai Hobbs IV, a vibrant behind-the-scenes force, contributing his youthful energy and innovative spirit to Na Mea ‘Ike ‘Ia’s (NMII) Ho’omahua Intitiative’s Indigenous Game Design and Royal Hawaiian Guard E-Sports and Robotics Teams.

As the youngest member of NMII’s volunteer administration support team, Luna Kanai’s journey with NMII began in 2018 as a cadet of Nanakuli High School’s US Army Junior Reserve Officers Training Program as its Battalion Commander with the rank of Lieutenant Cadet Colonel.

Born and raised on Moku O Kakuhihewa (Oahu), Moku O Wai’anae, Ahupua’a O Nanakuli, O Hobbs Ohana. Luna Kanai proudly graduated as a salutatorian from Nanakuli High and Intermediate School and from Ka Waihona o Ka Na’auao Public Charter School, representing the best of his community in all his endeavors and efforts.|

At NMII, Luna Kanai takes on the role of Vice Chair of the Ho’omahua Initiative Committee, skillfully navigating the intricate details that make the three program experiences exceptional. Beyond his administrative prowess, he serves as a brand ambassador of Na Mea ‘Ike ‘Ia’s Royal Hawaiian Guard Youth Development Program, recruiting potential program participants, donors, and supporters, bridging the gap between NMII and the community we serve.

He brings a wealth of experience to the table. His commitment to community engagement is evident through various initiatives he has spearheaded in Hawaii. Luna Kanai has held significant roles as the Senior Lead Anchor as a Digital Media Instructor and Head Audio Engineer for ‘Olelo Hawaii Nanakuli Branch, showcasing his leadership and mentorship in media and communication.

In addition, Luna Kanai served as Kakau Olelo for the Queen Julia Kapiolani Hawaiian Civic Club, demonstrating his commitment to preserving and promoting Olelo Hawaii, Mo’olelo, and Kuleana. As a youth leader with the Queen Lili’uokalani Trust, he further emphasizes his kuleana to empower future generations. He currently serves as a Shriner with Aloha Temple, supporting Shriners Children’s Hawaii’s mission following Moi Kalakau’s footsteps.

Luna Kanai’s versatility shines through his involvement as a ghostwriter for Nanakuli High School’s Ka Leo’ O Nanakuli and independent publisher Westside Stories, highlighting his proficiency in storytelling. He has also shared his ‘ike by teaching logic skills to patients of a drug rehabilitation program, contributing positively to their recoveries.

Continuing his spirit of kuleana, he served as a commander for the Cyber Patriot Program at JROTC Nanakuli Battalion, showcasing his commitment to ensuring a safe online environment for his community. Outside the professional sphere, Luna Kanai fosters connections with students through his weekly virtual Dungeons and Dragons sessions, creating a safe space fostering creativity and camaraderie.

Beyond his professional and community roles, Luna Kanai is an avid gamer extraordinaire, infusing NMII’s Indigenous Game Design and Royal Hawaiian Guard E-Sports Team with a genuine appreciation to support and promote the gaming industry and its players.


Kā Makani Kāʻili Koa's Ho’omahua Initiative INdigenous Games Design Pilot Program for Junior Reserve Officer Training Program for High School Students

Program Overview
This curriculum integrates Science, Technology, Electronics, Arts, Mathematics (S.T.E.A.M.e), and Personal Development through the lens of Indigenous Game Design. Students will explore the intersection of traditional knowledge, modern technology, and creativity to develop games that reflect on their indigenous cultures, languages, histories, and traditions. The course aims to foster critical thinking, collaboration, and cultural appreciation.
Program Objectives
Cultural Appreciation & Sensitivity:
  • ♚ Encourage students to research and share information about various indigenous communities’ history, customs, and values
  • ♚ Emphasize the importance of cultural sensitivity and respect in game design, avoiding appropriation and stereotypes.
  • ♚ Invite guest speakers from indigenous communities to share their perspectives and provide guidance on cultural representation.
Game Design Skills:
  • ♚ Introduce students to the principles of game design, including mechanics, narrative, and aesthetics.
  • ♚ Provide hands-on experience with game design software and tools, fostering creativity and technical skills.
  • ♚ Guide students in creating their indigenous-inspired games, incorporating cultural elements.
Cross-Curricular Learning:
  • ♚ Integrate aspects of history, geography, and social studies into the program to provide a holistic understanding of indigenous cultures.
  • ♚ Connect game design concepts to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) subjects, linking creativity with analytical skills.
  • ♚ Provide information about additional resources, workshops, or programs students can pursue to develop their game design or cultural studies skills.
Reflection and Documentation:
  • ♚ Incorporate regular reflection sessions where students can discuss their experiences, challenges, and learnings throughout the program.
  • ♚ Document the game design process, encouraging students to create portfolios or presentations showcasing their projects.
S.T.E.A.M.e Applications
Science (S):
  • ♛ Environmental Science: Indigenous games often draw inspiration from nature and the environment. The game design may incorporate ecological principles or traditional knowledge about the natural world.
    • ♛ Example: 4X games players are tasked with building civilizations thus terrain features are essential aspects in laying the foundations of those civilizations. Environmental features include accounting for weather systems, day and night cycles and age systems which allow for the impact of the world through the players’ actions.
    • ♛ Physics: Game mechanics and interactions are based on physical principles. Understanding physics is crucial for creating realistic movements and behaviors within the game.
Technology (T):
  • ♛ Digital Platforms: Game development involves various technologies, including programming languages, game engines, and graphics software. Indigenous game designers leverage technology to express their cultural narratives.
  • ♛ Augmented Reality (AR): Indigenous games may explore AR technologies to immerse players in cultural experiences or historical settings.
Electronics (E):
  • ♛ Hardware Development: Creating game consoles, controllers, or other electronic devices is a part of electronics. Indigenous game designers might focus on creating hardware that aligns with their cultural context.
Arts (A):
  • ♛ Visual Design:Graphics, animations, and overall visual aesthetics play a crucial role in the success of a game. Indigenous game design may incorporate traditional art styles, symbols, and colors.
Mathematics (M):
  • ♛ Game Mechanics: Mathematics is fundamental to designing game mechanics, such as scoring systems, character attributes, and puzzle structures. Indigenous games may integrate math concepts in a culturally relevant way.
    • ♛ Scoring Systems:
      • ♕ Example: In a racing game, the scoring system may incorporate mathematical formulas to reward players based on factors like race time, lap times, and position. The use of mathematical equations ensures fairness and accuracy in determining scores.
    • ♛ Character Attributes:
      • ♕ Example: In a role-playing game (RPG), character attributes such as strength, agility, and intelligence can be quantified using numerical values. These values impact gameplay mechanics, like combat outcomes, movement speed and dialogue options, adding a mathematical foundation to character development.
    • ♛ Puzzle Structures:
      • ♕ Example: Puzzle games often involve spatial reasoning and logical thinking, both rooted in mathematics. The design of puzzle structures, whether it’s arranging shapes or solving numerical problems, relies on mathematical principles to ensure the puzzles are challenging yet solvable. The root of mathematics is based on puzzle solutions, i.e. solve for x.
    • ♛ Resource Management:
      • ♕ Example: In strategy games, resources like currency, energy, or materials may be governed by mathematical models. This could involve algorithms and data collection to simulate resource production, consumption rates, and trade, influencing strategic decision-making.
  • ♛ Probability and Statistics: These are essential for creating balanced gameplay and ensuring players a fair and enjoyable experience.
    • ♛ Random Events:
      • ♕ Example: In a game like a card battle, the probability of drawing specific cards can be determined using statistical principles. The game’s design may ensure a balanced distribution of card types to prevent unfair advantages, creating an engaging and strategic experience.
    • ♛ Balancing Gameplay:
      • ♕ Example: In a multiplayer shooter, weapon statistics such as damage output, rate of fire, and accuracy are often fine-tuned using statistical analysis. Balancing these attributes ensures that no single weapon or strategy dominates the game, promoting a fair and competitive environment.
    • ♛ Drop Rates and Loot Systems:
      • ♕ Example: Role-playing games frequently use probability to determine the likelihood of obtaining rare items from defeated enemies or treasure chests. The design of loot systems involves careful consideration of drop rates, enhancing the excitement and unpredictability of the gaming experience.
    • ♛ Player Matchmaking:
      • ♕ Example: In online multiplayer games, matchmaking algorithms may use statistical models to pair players with similar skill levels.
Personal Development (e):
  • ♛ Team Orientation: Focusing on collaborative work in a design environment.
  • ♛ Psychology: Understanding the usage of human emotions in the creative field.
  • ♛ Self Improvement: Mastering the core tools and philosophies supporting students’ success in their future career pathways.
In indigenous game design, integrating these S.T.E.A.M.e elements is about creating entertaining games and preserving and promoting cultural heritage. By infusing traditional knowledge and values into game development, indigenous designers can use technology for cultural and artistic expression and education.


Chapter 1: Introduction to Indigenous Game Design (Semester 1)

Level 1: Basics of Game Design
  • ♜ Overview of game design principles
  • ♜ Introduction to game development tools
  • ♜ Hands-on activities and simple game creation
Level 3: Mathematics in Game Design
  • ♜ Overview of game design principles
  • ♜ Introduction to game development tools
  • ♜ Hands-on activities and simple game creation
Level 1: Basics of Game Design
  • ♜ Introduction to various Indigenous cultures worldwide
  • ♜ Introduction to various Indigenous cultures worldwide
Level 4: Personal Development Skills
  • ♜ Team building and communication
  • ♜ Time management and project planning
  • ♜ Critical thinking and problem-solving exercises

Chapter 2: Intermediate Indigenous Game Design (Semester 2)

Level 5: Psychology of Player Dynamics
  • ♝ Understanding the roles that players assign themselves
  • ♝ The separation between solo and cooperative play
  • ♝ The usage of creative media to influence emotions
Level 8: Advanced Mathematics in Game Design
  • ♝ In-depth application of mathematical concepts in game development
  • ♝ Advanced economics and entrepreneurship skills
  • ♝ Algorithmic problem-solving exercises
Level 6: Advanced Game Design Principles
  • ♝ Deep dive into core game design concepts
  • ♝ Examples of successful indigenous game designs
  • ♝ Hands-on projects incorporating advanced design elements
Level 9: Personal Development and Leadership
  • ♝ Leadership skills in project management
  • ♝ Effective communication in team settings
  • ♝ Presentation and public speaking skills in a business setting
Level 7: Technology Integration
  • ♝ Exploring advanced game development tools
  • ♝ Introduction to augmented reality (AR) in Gaming
  • ♝ Collaborative projects using modern technology

Chapter 3: Capstone Indigenous Game Design Project (Full Year)

Level 10: Indigenous Game Design Project Initiation
  • ♞ Selection of project themes rooted in indigenous cultures
  • ♞ Proposal development and project planning
Level 12: Final Project Showcase and Evaluation
  • ♞ Preparation for the final showcase event
  • ♞ Evaluation of projects by peers, instructors, cultural practitioners, community leaders, and industry professionals
  • ♞ Reflection on the learning journey and personal growth
Level 11: Game Development and Iteration
  • ♞ Hands-on Development of the selected game projects
  • ♞ Iterative design processes and feedback sessions
  • ♞ Troubleshooting and problem-solving
Indigenous game design is a career path that allows students the freedom to express themselves in a safe, creative environment of their own making. Learning skills that they can apply to many career paths and entrepreneurship opportunities.
  • ♟ Continuous assessment through project milestones, quizzes, and participation
  • ♟ Final project evaluation
  • ♟ Peer assessments and reflections
  • ♟ Journaling with a focus on creating engineering notebooks
  • ♟ Indigenous cultural resources
  • ♟ Research projects and papers
  • ♟ Game development software and tools
  • ♟ Electronics and hardware components
  • ♟ Guest speakers and industry professionals
  • ♟ Field trips to relevant cultural institutions and gaming events