Durga Puja Beyond Borders: A New Educational Video Game

Educational video games and their research and development have thrived as an academic field in roughly the past ten years. Mishra and Foster (2007) in the possibly first comprehensive publication on the subject make five relevant claims for using games for learning purposes, claims that are still relevant today: development of cognitive, practical, physiological skills, social skills, and motivation. Game-based learning and utilizing game-based environments for teaching are increasingly discussed. Sometimes we find the term “edutainment” (Michael and Chen 2006).

In order to extend the benefits of educational games to South Asian Studies, a year ago in Aug 2020, the educational video game The Durga Puja Mystery was released (https://blogs.helsinki.fi/durgapuja-the-videogame/the-durga-puja-mystery/). The game was as successful to be selected as a finalist for Hacking Higher Education Finland 2020 (find our 3 min pitch video here). Following the experiences from the development process and students’ play experiences, the creators now in Sept 2021 released a second game, Durga Puja Beyond Borders (https://blogs.helsinki.fi/durgapuja-the-videogame/new-durga-puja-beyond-borders/). Both games differ in many aspects, e.g., they focus on different world regions (India respectively Finland), are playable on different platforms (PC respectively phone) and draw from different game genres (mystery respectively management games). Yet, both provide an educational yet playful introduction to and gamified experience of Indian festival culture, by focusing on the arguably most popular and widespread Hindu festival Durga Puja. Today, Durga Puja is not only widely celebrated in India, but the festival is also a highly important event in global Indian communities.

game icon, The Durga Puja Mystery

The new game Durga Puja Beyond Borders is an educational video game which uses aspects of so-called management games to playfully yet educationally introduce various layers of Durga Puja festival culture, such as joint Durga Puja organizations and especially celebrations. It conveys educational content about the festival’s history and past and present ways of worshipping and jointly celebrating, in India and beyond. Moreover, it allows a glimpse into how festivals are important events and locations for migrant communities to live and negotiate identity, heritage and culture – beyond borders.

The festival Durga Puja has extensively traveled with Indian communities, beyond many geographical and cultural borders. Today, the festival is celebrated in many places all around the globe, places that have become home to Indian migrant communities. This game invites you to join the festival in an exemplary global Indian community, in the so-called Indian diaspora, in Helsinki, Finland. In Durga Puja Beyond Borders you play as Laura, who takes part in organizing and celebrating a Durga Puja event hosted by a local Indian community.

game icon, Durga Puja Beyond Borders

Both games are a collaborative effort of the University of Helsinki (Finland), Xenia Zeiler, and the Kolkata (India) based award-winning game development studio Flying Robot Studios, Satyajit Chakraborty. They were funded by the Future Development Fund, Faculty of Arts, and the Digiloikka Initiative of UH. Both games are open access, and we invite everyone to play. Enjoy!


Xenia Zeiler, Professor of South Asian Studies, Department of Cultures, University of Helsinki



Michael, D. R. and Chen, S. L. (2006). Serious Games: Games that Educate, Train and Inform. Florence: Cengage Learning Services.

Mishra, P. and Foster, A. (2007). The Claims of Games: A Comprehensive Review and Directions for Future Research. In R. Carlsen, K. McFerrin, J. Price, R. Weber & D. Willis (Eds.), Proceedings of SITE 2007–Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 2227-2232). San Antonio, Texas, USA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved September 14, 2021 from https://www.learntechlib.org/primary/p/24920/.