A game that celebrates hip hop culture but doesn't revolve around violence isn't just possible, according to Heatwave Interactive, it's coming.
This week, Heatwave Interactive announced Platinum Life, their so-called "zero-to-hero" MMORPG, that promises to take players on the exhilarating ride of starting from nothing to becoming a hip hop all-star.
"The game is not about running around shooting people in the head," Heatwave Interactive Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Anthony Castoro told The Escapist. "There's drama in the game, and drama causes a lot of the content and the missions in the game. There are moral choices that you can make, but we don't get deep into the graphic nature of those moral choices. ... You can take missions from those guys on the street corner who you know are not legit - and if you take that money and do those missions, that's going to affect content later in the game."
Castoro says the goal in creating Platinum Life was to develop a game that took a more realistic look at the hip-hop lifestyle, without resorting to the ultra-violence and "boring" rhythm-matching to which hip-hop-inspired games typically resort.
"As you learn more about Heatwave, you'll learn that we're not a typical geeky white guy studio," he said. "We're not going to focus on that, but we all love hip hop and it's been a part of our lives and that's why we're doing this project.
"We are going for a certain mentality about hip hop. We take it seriously, but a lot of what hip hop is about is about having fun, and a lot of what hip hop is about is trying to come up, and obviously a lot of what hip hop is about is dealing with the urban lifestyle and coming out of poverty."
Platinum Life will feature the music, images and voice of an as-yet unannounced number of real life hip hop stars, most notably, Grammy Award-wining artist and actor T.I.
"T.I. was the first one to join us and that's why we announced him first," says Castoro. "We have quite a few others to [announce]. I think [the artists] are really quite excited about it because usually they don't have an outlet. It's really hard for Beyonce to be in a videogame because usually it's about violence."