Danis Ilaltdinov: ‘The video game in Tatar will allow the language to leave the kitchen’

A young man from Chelny is creating the first Tatar horror video game

Danis Ilaltdinov: ‘The video game in Tatar will allow the language to leave the kitchen’
Photo: предоставлено Данисом Илалтдиновым

Young man born in Naberezhnye Chelny Danis Ilaltdinov is creating the first horror video game based on Tatar mythology — Shurale novel — at his own expense. It is a story about “lost roots and love, violence and how it inevitably deforms the soil,” its teaser reads. Read more about it in Realnoe Vremya’s report.

“The further, the closer”

Danis Ilaltdinov hasn’t been living in Tatarstan for a long time. He left his hometown and moved to Saint Petersburg, now he is living in Istanbul and is going to Serbia. He explains that now the industry of video games and indie games (small independent video games) in particular is quickly developing in this country. Also, there is a big Russian-speaking community.

He rarely visits Chelny and Kazan, only to meet his family and friends. The young man has been into episode graphics for 10 years now. Danis is a 3D generalist and lead animator working in game development. He says that he didn’t feel any special interest in his national culture and history when he was younger. But when he was far from the Fatherland, he clearly realised the necessity of self-identification.

Danis Ilaltdinov: “The video game in Tatar will allow the language to leave the kitchen.” Photo courtesy of Danis Ilaltdinov. предоставлено Данисом Илалтдиновым

“At some point, I felt the necessity of national self-identification when being outside Tatarstan. When you are in your broth, you stop noticing good and valuable things around you. And you understand how yours is important only after being far and diving into other cultures.”

This is why the young man came up with an idea of creating something unique related to the Tatar culture, and this idea was personified in Shurale video game.

“Shural is a project of my dream, my attempt to realise my identity and know it better than ochpochmak and Sabantuy”

Danis Ilaltdinov started to write the script as early as 2020. First, he wanted to create a cartoon, but in the course of the work he understood that he could expose the whole palette in a horror video game only.

Baki is the main character. Photo courtesy of Danis Ilaltdinov. предоставлено Данисом Илалтдиновым

Danis is using neural networks when creating characters and does not hide it. Moreover, he talks about it at every occasion.

“I want to openly talk about the use of neural networks because many are sceptical about them, they are cautious, as if it is a stuff that does everything for you. In fact, it makes your job more comfortable. And it is not as easy as many think. You cannot just say: ‘Draw a beautiful woman in a lake.’ This is not how it works. There is a separate speciality — eople who know how to create correct algorithms for neural networks.”

Photo courtesy of Danis Ilaltdinov. предоставлено Данисом Илалтдиновым

“Most importantly, the game has the Tatar speech”

Shurale horror video game will have a lot of Tatar, besides the characters, their names and other names. The entire game will have contemporary Tatar music, particularly compositions of Juna band. Tatar clothing design will be used.

“I want to give people who are not familiar with the Tatar language an opportunity, listen to it, this is the main part of the culture. I think it will be interesting for representatives of other nations. Like it is interesting to play Japanese games with Japanese dubbing. Though many don’t understand it. I am sure that my game should have the Tatar speech, it is important. I think the problem of the language is precisely it is, as a rule, not used anywhere but at home. The language needs to be used in other spheres as well to keep it alive and developing. I really support young Tatar musicians who create quality contemporary Tatar music. It seems to me that this is how the language can be conserved. The use of Tatar in my game is also a way for the language to leave the kitchen. The video game is a more mass product. Everybody plays games.”

“Now it is up to us to create the Tatar language the language of art we create, thus spread it more than talks in Tatar with your grandparents in the countryside”

The first Tatar video game is created with the developer’s money. Now the access to the platform where one can help the project financially. Danis Ilaltdinov hopes to make his dream a reality through crowdfunding not to lose independence. One can have a look at how things are going in the project’s Telegram channel.

Milyausha Kashaftudinova
Tatarstan