By Mech Dara and Joshua Wilwohl
The Cambodia Daily
December 19, 2012
A group of 12 Cambodians has developed a new video game for the iPhone that just two weeks after its release has become Cambodia’s most-downloaded game in Apple Inc.’s online store.
Since it was released on November 30, “Asva the Monkey” has had more than 3,000 free and paid downloads, according to the game’s producer, Ear Uy.
“We wanted to build a game that integrated Cambodian culture, so we came up with a story that involved a monkey in a lost land,” said Mr. Uy, 30, who worked with 11 other Phnom Penh developers from Osja Studio, a Cambodia-based gaming studio that also produces games for Apple’s iPad and iPod Touch.
“Asva the Monkey” costs $0.99 and is also free on a trial version.
Users of the game play as a monkey named Asva—which translates to monkey in Khmer—who lives in a secret, uninhabited location within the forest near Siem Reap’s Angkor Wat. One day, Asva follows a mysterious light into a magical world and must solve a series of puzzles in order to return home. He is guided through the game by a magical flying character named Abo.
Mr. Uy said it took the firm about six months to develop the game.
“From the idea to the storyboard to the creation to the programming, it’s a process,” he said. “This is our first game that integrates Cambodian culture.”
Last year, Osja Studio released three Christmas-themed video games for the iPhone that took a total of three months to complete, Mr. Uy added.
Osja Studio’s art director, Chivaloy Yok, 27, said it took him about four months to sketch Asva and the game’s more than 90 levels. To complete a level, Asva must collect a jewel by jumping across a series of blocks without going diagonally or backwards.
“We decided on what looked the most Khmer. For example, Asva wears a kben,” Mr. Yok said, referring to a traditional cloth wrapped around the monkey’s legs and waist.
Mr. Uy also said that Osja Studio did not build the game strictly for locals, though he admits that gaining popularity at home is easier due to the integration of local culture.
“We’re not targeting this only for Cambodia. The graphics, sounds and gameplay are what make it popular. But in this country, it is popular because we introduced Cambodian culture to the game—and people support that,” he said.