Animal Farm: Crowdfunding, Creative Freedom vs. Staying True to Orwell’s Work, and More

Animal Farm: Crowdfunding, Creative Freedom vs. Staying True to Orwell’s Work, and More

Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.

Today, the first details of last month’s announced video game adaption of George Orwell’s literary classic Animal Farm were revealed.

In said reveal, we learned that Animal Farm will be an adventure-tycoon game, where players are put in the Manor Farm as one of the animals right before the animal revolution takes place, and they take control of said farm from their human owners. From there, it will follow the journey through the ups and downs of Animalism.

Meanwhile, Animal Farm’s gameplay will be a combination of adventure-game story choices and management of the farm in tycoon-fashion.

That being said, recently I had the opportunity to hit one of the game’s developers, Imre Jele, co-founder of Bossa Studios, with a few questions that covered topics of crowdfunding, creative freedom vs. staying true to the original work, and whether this game is purely a product of the current political climate.

In regards to crowdfunding, when asked if there is any consideration for a campaign, Jele confirmed there is. However, he stressed the responsibility the team feels to maintaining an independent creative process, and remaining responsible to only George Orwell’s work and to the game’s audience. Jele continued:

“Creating this game is not only about entertainment and not even only about art, it is a social and cultural responsibility. As such, we need to make sure the project is not tainted by funding arriving from sources whose actions conflict with Orwell’s message and the values of our indie team. Crowdfunding could be a great way to circumvent that problem but of course such a campaign would not be free of potential controversies either.”
As you would expect, telling one of the most classic and influential modern tales is not an easy task to undertake, and neither is balancing creative freedom in the face of staying true to the original work. I asked Jele about this: about how how much creative freedom will be taken vs. staying true to the novella beat by beat. He offered up the following response:
“This is a very good question and we’ve been pondering about it for a long time.One of the first statement we made when we started this project in earnest was that this game does not need to reinvent or modernise Animal Farm. We do not need “Animal Farm… IN SPACE!”. The original work does not require changing as it is as relevant as it has ever been, if not more so. At the same time, the process of adapting a piece of work from one medium to another will unavoidably alter the message of any piece of art.
Also, and maybe even more importantly, our personal interpretation of Orwell’s original book is already a reflection of ourselves too so we can’t possibly say we can separate our idiosyncrasies from the game we create.
We are dedicated to being completely faithful to Animal Farm and Orwell’s body of work so when in doubt, we always ask ourselves: What would Orwell do?”
Lastly, Jele and I chatted about whether this project is a result of the present times, or whether it would be happening if things were more “normal” right now. The developer responded:
“We’re all lifelong fans of Orwell and his work and many of us had dreams of creating a game based on Animal Farm for years, even decades. But it is true that social shifts and political events of the last decade certainly has pushed us from dreaming about this game to actually start creating it.
Over the last decade or so we’ve seen a trend of various governments adopting techniques from oppressive regimes of the past. The slow corruption of high ideals of society and governance, the increasing divide between the haves and have-nots, oppression created not only by the oppressors but by the naïveté of the oppressed, and the abuse of language and information. These are not only themes of Animal Farm, but increasingly, elements of our everyday politics.
I can’t help feeling personally challenged to create a game adaptation of Animal Farm, as I myself grew up under a communist regime. It’s everyone’s responsibility to speak up against the tide of oppression and we hope to do our small part by creating this game.”
Animal Farm is in development for PC and “other platforms.” It currently is without a release date, but Jele did tell us it will not be coming anytime before the end of summer 2018.