Self-Determination in Indigenous Games

Authored by: Elizabeth LaPensée

The Routledge Companion to Media Studies and Digital Humanities

Print publication date:  May  2018
Online publication date:  May  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138844308
eBook ISBN: 9781315730479
Adobe ISBN:


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Games are a powerful medium for expression, with their unique layering of play, story, art, and audio brought about through design and code. Self-determined Indigenous games could be considered what Anishinaabe writer, Gerald Vizenor, refers to as survivance—survival, endurance, and resistance. The award-winning platformer, Never Alone (developed for consoles and PCs by the Cook Inlet Tribal Council in collaboration with ally game company, E-Line Media), weaves a historical-traditional story into gameplay with Iñupiaq art, language, and teachings. The mobile game, Invaders (with art by Steven Paul Judd inspired by the classic arcade game, Space Invaders), represents colonization as an 8-bit alien invasion. Blood Quantum, a Real Time Strategy game (by Renee Nejo), which uses nonhuman droplet characters battling over communities, represents a statement about how blood quantum policies contribute to ongoing colonization. Looking at these games exemplifies the ways in which Indigenous culture and experiences bring about unique game design.

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