Orly’s Draw-A-Story Game Reflection
A Jamaican creative artistic video game
In my exploration of game few have solidified themselves so securely in my personal collection of positive Jamaican representation coupled with create expression. So what is this glorious game I speak of? Very simply put it was a creative design single player game set partiacially in an imaginary world where the player is invited to illustrate the characters or key features of particular scenes.
In 1997 a game was release, it was fun, creative, interesting, user friendly and provided me with cultural representation in my childhood. To a young girl not familiar with seeing female protagonist lead games especially not black Caribbean female protagonist, specifically Jamaican leads, this game was a wonderful slice of digital cultural positivity. Everything about the character design really resonated with me, her hair with the beads, her T-Shirt dress similar to one I actually owned and wore when I was in Jamaica her complexion, her voice and her imaginative nature.
Everything from the voices and music to the attire, materials and other visual aesthetics captured a little bit of the magic of the Jamaica of my childhood.
I really wanted to write something about Orly as I found little reference to it on the internet or in any lists of games with positive black female leads. I hope that by highlighting a few aspects of the game this unsung hero of games will not be lost in the video game graveyard of the past but remembered as lovingly I still remember it.
The games inclusion of different aspect of the Jamaican culture has, in a way, turned it into a cultural time capsule. Even when I dusted it off today to play it on an old computer (that is thank goodness still running) many of the different aspect of the game brought back fond childhood memories of my own time in Jamaica.
This image of the Menu screen is a perfect example of what I am referring to, each aspect of the visual aesthetics harkens back to the culture of Jamaica I remember. The corrugated iron which I remember being used in various ways from construction to food preparation. The Metal drum commonly use as storage or as a bin. The speaker which makes me think of evenings spent listening to my family play various types of reggae and of course the famed Jamaican “sound systems”.
Two feature I really liked were that, when colouring, you could click and move the mouse around but still colour inside a shape, if you chose to, and if you clicked and held a hexagon shape appeared to fill the area with colour. They sound like simple features but the accessibility they provided to do really complex patterns or combine paints with the interesting and various texture patterns under New and Undo the helpful rastafarian heads.
For me this game was not just simply an enjoyable artistic experience, an exploratory expanding world, or a creative narrative engagement, it was all of this and more. Through its glorious audio, narrative, aesthetics, visual, mechanics and aspects of play it captured a familiar culture and experiences to my own childhood. As a child I enjoyed the familiarity, representation, and relatability, as an adult replaying it, I also enjoyed the nostalgia. It is a unique cultural time capsule of a time gone by and sits in a unique place being, as far as I know, the only Jamaican video game of its kind.
I was already a fan of Broderbund games as a child and this game was, and still in in my top five games of all time. When looking for specifically Jamaican video games it is near impossible to find any that capture the culture in the same way as Orly did. This is not to say they do not exist, they do, but they are far and few between. In addition I have always explored the creative or adventurous route in games and so there are probably a great many in genres which I have not yet explored, and I would love to hear more about.
 ToeJam & Earl Productions (1997). Orly’s Draw-A-Story [Computer Game]. Broderbund.
 Broderbund (1980 -1998)