'Alas, poor Yorick' Unlock: Leadership and the story of the skulls...

Did you know that the hand gesture for ‘ok’, in the UK, also means zero in France but is considered an offensive gesture in Germany? Neither did I.




You're washed up on a beach after a mystic storm sinks your ship. On the horizon, an imposing Aztec temple captures your  imagination.  - Aztecs formed the inspiration for Unlock: Leadership’s environments and settings. They have a deep, culturally rich history that often featured skulls and skeletons. For example, Coatlicue, a much revered Aztec god, wore skulls. She was a symbol of earth and life to the Aztecs.

Choosing to feature skeletons in Unlock: Leadership, was a natural thought progression. From early sketches it was clear they were going to suit their environment and could be utilised as helpful aides throughout the game for the players. When they were modelled and placed into the game, they looked awesome!




But there was a problem. Despite the often positive connotations of skulls and skeletons in Aztec culture, there had to be a consideration for their symbolism in other cultures. Like the innocent ‘ok’ gesture, symbolism changes dependent on culture and location. Skeletons and skulls had the potential to offend and alienate players; not the desired outcome for a game that’s purpose is to enable team building, communication development and leadership training. After a long internal debate, the difficult decision was made and the skeletons had to be put to rest.

But what to replace them with? Monkeys! - yes you heard right! Monkeys are figures of intelligence: thought of heroic in certain cultures and symbols of knowledge and positive energy in others. They are even associated with the sun and enlightenment in Aztec culture. The perfect fit for a game serious about leadership skills!