Three Questions with Makiyah Alexander on Rising Waters

Makiyah Alexander is an animator and character illustrator originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan. A graduate of Central Michigan University in 2020, Makiyah creates illustrations and animation geared toward her interest of emulating the forgotten hopes, dreams, loves, and struggles of people of color.

We asked Makiyah, one of the artists on our forthcoming game RISING WATERS (now on Kickstarter), to talk briefly about her work on the game. Below are her answers to our new post series, “Three Questions With…” that we’ll have more of in the future.

What do you find exciting/stimulating about Rising Waters?

What I find stimulating and exciting about RISING WATERS is that it’s a game that dives into history that is glossed over or briefly mentioned in US history. When discussing African American history, we discuss slavery, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Civil Rights Movement. We don’t talk about events like the 1927 Mississippi Flood and its effect on the black community. RISING WATERS gives you a glimpse of what it was like to be an African American sharecropper trying to make a living in the south while also trying to cope and survive the Mississippi flood and systemic racism.

What influences were you drawing from in designing your art for the game?

When I was designing my art for RISING WATERS, I wanted to create art that depicted a variety of African American characters in a relatable as well as humanizing way. My goal was to illustrate people who despite being affected by the flood and systemic racism, still found the grace and courage to push through their adversity and fight for a better future.

To achieve this goal, I would immerse myself in 1920’s blues, jazz, and Negro spirituals to evoke the feeling of life during that time. When I wanted to illustrate art that dealt with family and community; I would use my grandmother’s stories of growing up with Great Grandma Charlotte and the rest of her family in Mississippi for inspiration.

Draft Community Card Art by Makiyah Alexander. Not Final.

What do you find meaningful for you in Rising Waters?

Being a part of a project as special as this one is one of the most meaningful aspects of RISING WATERS. I love that as an African American woman, I was able to have a voice in its depiction as well as learn new things about African American culture in the 1920s. Being able to learn and illustrate different aspects of the Black experience through the lens of different economic classes was another meaningful aspect that I enjoyed while designing for RISING WATERS. My hope for the game is that it will spark people’s interest in learning more about the Mississippi flood and the African American community.

To learn more about RISING WATERS and back the project, check out the Kickstarter page. The campaign ends on Nov 3, so don’t delay!

Announcing Rising Waters

It’s Spring, 1927. While Americans dance the Charleston and drink bootlegged liquor, the Mississippi Delta faces a flood of epic proportions. If battered river levees collapse, everything important to you will be washed away.

RISING WATERS is a cooperative board game built around area control, set collection, and variable player power mechanics where players experience life through the lens of African American plight. In the game, you will confront two forces – racism from white landowners and the power of nature. Persevere by drawing on your community’s courage and strength from your family, church, music, farming, and education.  Can you manage the rising waters to stay alive?

RISING WATERS is a 2-4 player game of the strength of community, methods of resistance, and the struggle against nature suitable for both classroom use and casual play from Central Michigan University Press. 

2-4 Players 60-90 Minutes Ages 14 & Up

Designer: Scout Blum

Artists: Lamaro Smith, Makiyah Alexander

RISING WATERS will launch on Kickstarter on October 4! Sign up on Backerkit for further updates about the game and to learn when the Kickstarter Prelaunch Page will go live.

Community Card Draft Images, art by Lamaro Smith. Not final.

Rising Waters Game Board Draft. Not final.

Pardon Our Dust!

Welcome to the new Central Michigan University Press website & e-commerce store. We’re excited for you to poke around and see what we’ve all been up to these last several months as we’ve been building the Press. Some of the site is still a work in progress, so here are a couple of things of note as you kick the tires:

  • If you would like to know more about the Press, its guiding principles, and its leadership, please visit the About page.
  • If you are interested in submitting a game pitch to the Press’s Scholarship and Lore: Games for Learning series, be sure to check out the Submission page.
  • The e-commerce part of the site is not entirely set up yet. You should be able to look at product pages for a few of our games and other related products, but not purchase any of them directly on site. Instead, for our game Monumental Consequence in particular, you can head over to the game’s Preorder Store on Backerkit to preorder the physical game (and purchase the Print & Play PDF and the Curriculum Guide PDF right now). We hope to have the store fully operational in the next few weeks.

If you have questions about anything on the site, reach out to use through the Contact page.