Playing To Learn Hawaiian Culture

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - April 23, 2008
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Jeff Pagay (artist) and Eileen Tupman of Akamai Games watch
Jeff Pagay (artist) and Eileen Tupman of Akamai Games watch (from left) Charity, Alyssa, Aryana and Brenten play games with Charley Lau

Eileen Tupman respects Hawaiian values and culture so much that she created two games for children to learn about them in a fun way.

“There are lots of books out there on culture and I wanted this to be an additional way for people to learn,” says Tupman, president and CEO of Akamai Games. “My family always played games together. I didn’t want something that was a video game because there is no interaction.”

Pele’s Perils Hawaiian Adventure Game is intended for ages 4 and up.

“It’s a simple up-and-down game that takes only minutes to learn for a lifetime of fun,” explains Tupman. “The first player to reach Pele at the top of the volcano is the winner.”

She adds that in one scenario, if you do good deeds to spread aloha, you can easily climb the volcano. The game comes with a pamphlet that explains more about Hawaiian culture, covering topics such as making lauhala and poi, and greeting with lei.

And speaking of good deeds, Tupman is doing her own good deed by donating games to children’s hospitals, including Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, Shriners Hospital and Ronald McDonald House Charities. At Borders Books and Music during the month of April, customers can purchase games to donate to the hospitals. They are available at several stores including Borders at Windward Mall and Ward, and also at the Polynesian Cultural Center.

“It’s all about the keiki and helping to keep the Hawaiian culture alive,” Tupman says. “I also hope that visitors to the Islands will find Akamai Games to be a fun way to learn about the Hawaiian culture, and perhaps take a bit of the aloha spirit back home.

“The real reason I made these games is for our own keiki.”

Ohana Mana Hawaiian Adventure Game is for children ages 8 to adult.

“Throughout the years, my Hawaiian nephews and nieces have said, ‘Auntie, you know more about Hawaii and our culture than we do, and we’re Hawaiian!’” admits Tupman.

She studied tropical agriculture at University of Hawaii at Hilo and received her degree from Montana State University. It was during her studies on the Big Island that she was inspired by Hawaiian culture and family environment.

One of her challenges in putting the games together was to find an artist. She met with several and selected Jeff Pagay, who has illustrated several children’s books.

“I wanted the games to have that ‘Where’s Waldo?’ factor to them so that each time you play it, you might notice something new.”

She appreciates the support of her family, including her sister LaDonna, her mom Sheila Gimbel and her adult children Adrian Andersen and Matt Gibaldi.

“I want people to spend family time together,” says Tupman, who has three more games in the development phase.

For more information, call 489-6436 or log onto


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