Bagamoyo Caravan (2010)

Type: story-based pervasive mobile game

Purpose: learn about history of slavery in Tanzania through a story and minigames that connect to museum objects

Place: Catholic Museum, Bagamoyo, Tanzania

Technologies: Android, onboard sensors

Period: 2010

Contributors: Teemu H. Laine, Ville Räisänen, Jussi Ratilainen, Panu Parviainen, Frank Malela, Fadhili Ng’unda and Marcus Duveskog

bagamoyo_pedaBagamoyo Caravan is a story-based pervasive game developed for the Catholic Museum located in the town of Bagamoyo, an old slavery centre by the coast of Tanzania. The game runs on Android-based mobile phones and utilises a touch screen user interface. Rather than attempting to maintain a balance between entertainment and pedagogy throughout the game play, as is the case with many other educational games, the game distinguishes educational and entertaining parts from each other. The idea is that in order to be entertained with minigames (i.e. small games within the Bagamoyo Caravan), the player must first go through educational elements (e.g. story, quiz) of the game. Minigames feed intrinsic motivation of the players to keep on playing and learning but they not to overshadow the pedagogical components. The game was implemented in English and Swahili.

Pedagogical features of the game include Story, Quiz and Item Locator. In the story, the player assumes a role of a child, female or male slave. The story begins when slave traders arrive to the home village of slaves and capture the player’s character and many other villagers to be joined with a slave caravan that travels to Bagamoyo. During the journey the player learns about the life of a slave and also about the culture of the local people in that era. During the journey the player is challenged to answer various questions (Quiz) related to the exhibits in the museum, as well as find certain objects in the Item Locator. Quiz and Item Locator are illustrated above.

Five different minigames are woven into the story (see figures below):

  • Jump where the player avoids obstacles on the road
  • Balance where the player balances a jar of water on top of head (using device’s sensor)
  • Coconut shooting where the player must throw rocks at coconut tree to get coconuts to eat
  • Fruit drop where the player must quickly pick as many fruits as possible
  • Jigsaw puzzle where the player must re-organized a puzzle to reveal underlying picture


The game’s architecture is depicted below. The core idea is to keep the game structure extensible so that new types of minigames or pedagogical activities can be easily added. Furthermore, the architecture supports multiple stories with unique characters in multiple locations.


Bagamoyo Caravan was created with participatory design methodology in a multicultural group consisting of Finnish researchers and students as well as Tanzanian students and historians. The game concept originated by Jussi Ratilainen who also designed graphical appearance of the game. By June 2010 the first prototype was finished but it did not have all designed features (e.g. only 3/5 of the minigames were implemented).


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