Search Festival – the independent DIY electronic music festival based in South Africa – is not moving forward with a physical event this year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, we have developed a video game for Mac and PC called Search Questival, launching on the 26th of December, 2020. The concept for the game is a virtual experience designed using the Unity engine, where the player will roam about and interact with a stimulating, psychedelic landscape full of quests, artworks and areas soundtracked with original music by South African producers, including Rose Bonica, Jumping Back Slash, Deep Aztec and more. Completing all the quests will result in the chance to win lifetime tickets for our physical festivals in the future.

While the game is free to download and play, we’re opening a PayPal donation portal where 100% of the proceeds will go towards the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children (link here), which supports survivors of abuse. South Africa has suffered from a gender-based violence epidemic for a long time, but this has increased by at least 65% this year. We’re hoping donations can go some way towards addressing this social ill.

We’ll post the DL link for the game on our socials and website on the day (26th of December). We’ll be streaming live gameplay at 18:00 SA time (that’s 16:00 GMT) also on the 26th.

No man, a whole video game?! It amazes me what people can do with their time! How did Search Questival come about? Was it over a zoom call or at your first beer after lockdown that you were just like… WE ARE MAKING A VIDEO GAME!??!!!
When the pandemic and lockdown hit in March, we realised that the chances of a physical festival happening this year are very slim, and even if legally allowed would be counter to our values, bar a widely accessible vaccine. We immediately started looking into alternative ways to offer an experience that would include the essence of Search Festival – play, exploration, and visual stimuli set to great music – but through a virtual platform. We participated in some awesome online events, such as all my thoughts by Club Matryoshka, and Club Quarantäne by Resident Advisor, and it became clear that working in the virtual space meant we could move beyond the time and space constraints of a “normal” festival. We reached out to Terry Gryffn Kahn, an indie game developer and overall wonderful person, and they got excited by the possibilities of the project. So, Search Questival was born!

You have incredible names in the music production/ lineup for the game. How did you coordinate this lineup to create one synchronised sound for Questival?
As with all our line-ups, we follow a democratic process where our programmers – Aaron Peters, Matt Hichens, Cuito Naude and Louis Pienaar – research and offer names independently, and then we have an online chat to reach a consensus. For Search Questival, we wanted to move away from a purely dancefloor-focused line-up, and rather give producers the opportunity to explore their, erm, wilder productions that are less suited to a dancefloor/label, and more suited to a stimulating exploratory experience.

On which landscape is Search Questival based on? One of your past festival locations?
Search Questival is mostly based on characters and elements from previous Searches, but a lot of the concepts also came from the minds of Terry Kahn, Natalie Cuthbert and Tiffany Schouw. The idea was to present a dreamy world with references to Search’s past and hopes for the future, with a big ole slice of fantasy.

What was the biggest highlight during developing Search Questival?
Definitely the brainstorming sessions between the Search team and the developers. Everyone involved has a great sense of humour and creativity, so bouncing playful and silly ideas off each other was great fun.

What is your all time favourite video game and why? 
Louis: The Diablo franchise. I’m a sucker for metaphysical mythology, and smiting Rakanishu is always deeply satisfying.
Aaron: Rollercoaster Tycoon. I like building things that allows for people to have fun
Johan and Louis have also spent many hours playing Naruto Storm together. Kusoooo!

The relevant links are:
Instagram: @search_festival
Website: www.searchfestival.co.za
Twitch page: twitch.tv/searchfestival