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In the summer of 2020, as America tried to reckon with its institutionalized racism, the Black Lives Matter movement prompted video game studios to issue pro-BLM statements, donate to Black-centered charities, and promise to elevate Black voices. Several years later, it’s not all that clear if some (or any) studios followed through on those promises, or if any tangible change has taken place.

Abubakar Salim (Raised By Wolves) is an actor embedded in the video games industry—he voiced Bayek in Assassin’s Creed Origins, and he’s spent his life playing games. He pitched his idea for a game, a Metroidvania called Tales of Kenzera: Zau, to several of those same studios who made public statements in support of the BLM movement. “Not a single one got back to me,” he tells me over a video call.

But that didn’t deter him. Tales of Kenzera: Zau, developed by Surgent Studios (the company Salim founded) alongside EA Originals, which published Josef Fares’ award-winning 2021 game It Takes Two, debuts in April. The game received a high-profile reveal at The Game Awards courtesy of Salim himself, and a recent demo proved incredibly successful. I spoke with Salim over video call about his inspiration and determination, and how Tales of Kenzera will probably make us all cry.

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