Māori Studies plays role in new video game

01 June 2018
Māori Studies student Jack Potaka and programmer Steve Salmond
Māori Studies student Jack Potaka and programmer Steve Salmond

What is the acronym for Artificial Intelligence (AI) in te reo Māori?

This was the conundrum Māori Studies tutor Te Whainoa Te Wiata and student Jack Potaka faced when they translated an international computer game Grabity into te reo Māori recently.

"There are many words that cannot be located in the Māori dictionary and so we had to think up new words for the game," says Jack.

"One of the difficult tasks with translating was the technological jargon. For example the acronym for Artificial Intelligence is AI. We had to consider translating both the terms and acronyms."

As a result, Te Wiata and Potaka called Artificial Intelligence Rorohiko which in essence means the same thing but it is commonly known as computer.

"Therefore we used the acronym RH," explains Jack.

Grabity is a prize-winning PC game where robots test out the latest gravity-gun technology.

It was developed in New Zealand by programmer Steve Salmond and 2D/3D artist and animator Moritz Schlitter and is now available on Steam, a major international digital distribution platform.

"We came up with this crazy game where you're playing with gravity basically so you're chucking objects around, you go upside down, gravity flips on you but you're grabbing all these objects," explains Steve.

It has already been translated into five languages — French, German, Portuguese, simplified and traditional Chinese — and now te reo.

Steve says they wanted to translate the game into te reo Māori to appeal to children who have been raised in the Māori language. He hopes the move results in more interactive games being translated into te reo Māori.

"We want to embrace te reo in the modern age of technology," says Jack.

"It's a big honour to do this work because this is such an extraordinary opportunity to translate something that has such significance in this day and age of technology."

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