Unsuspected: A Fictional Story Based on Yupik Oral Legends

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It just exists. It is there, on your computer monitor. Knowing that video games have held presences within Indigenous communities since they were first marketed to public consumers, it is important to note that the intercultural aspect of videogaming has also existed through portrayals of culture within those games.


These kinds of cross-cultural connections are incredibly relevant when trying to understand the history of video gaming in Indigenous communities today. Cultural contact zones found within video games are now being reformed in order to centre Indigenous voices in a way that has been done only limitedly thus far; giving us a glimpse of what is yet to come for Indigenous gaming as a genre. Analyzing the digital platform where Never Alone is both marketed and reviewed helps to conceptualize the ongoing formation of digital contact zones sparked by Indigenous-made games.

The Steam Store is an online marketplace that carries over sixty-four hundred different video games and is the primary platform for Windows and Mac OS X users to purchase a digital copy of Never Alone. With such a wealth of supported languages, the story of Nuna and Fox is being featured on a truly international and multicultural platform.

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Additionally, eighty-four percent of over two thousand user reviews of the game left positive recommendations about their experience playing the game. Other than the language used, there is no way to tell who is on the other end of these critical statements and it is therefore realistic to imagine that a multinational audience is offering their engagements with Never Alone. When talking about the global culture of videogaming today, it is so important to consider the reception that games get in a multinational market. So why is there so much praise for a game that has its fair share of mechanical bugs and a simple story?

Although Never Alone is indeed gorgeous in its visual effects and riveting in its various educational aspects, the game does so much other work to break down barriers of oppression that have existed in video game narratives since their popularization. As of right now, the centres for video game development and creation exist in metropolitan Japan and the continental United States for mainstream consumers; a market that primarily considers the opinions of cisgender, heterosexual men.

Still, Never Alone separates itself by featuring the young, female protagonist character of Nuna.

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As we have previously found through the close reading and subsequent analysis of Never Alone , it is hard to define its scope of influence as both an aesthetically amazing, visually-based video game and a documentary through its use of the Cultural Insights portion of the project. It seems as though both aspects have had varying impacts on the gaming community in that the documentary-style Cultural Insights are trivialized as a backdrop to the artistic quality of the in-game narrative, imagery, and characters.

Ludology and Narratology are relatively new academic fields that engage with the contention of mechanics and narrative within videogaming. At Upper One Games, we weave timeless, living stories into dynamic, engaging and fun games that encourage discovery and exploration. We are confident our products will excite, inspire and connect people throughout the world Upper One Games Because Indigenous communities are just beginning to explore the potential for video games to communicate Indigenous teachings and worldviews, issues relating to the concept of Indigenous authenticity within this digital medium is often questioned.

If Indigenous literature has difficulty being duly recognized within a global canon, how can forms of digital storytelling within video games like Never Alone be fully recognized as Indigenous knowledge? Much like the debates of Indigenous authenticity within literary discourse as exemplified by Jace Weaver Cherokee , Craig Womack Creek-Cherokee , and Robert Warrior Osage in their book titled American Indian Literary Nationalism , the written works of Indigenous peoples continue to be discredited of their relevancy in expanding global literary canon.

I see much of the same rhetoric happening in the production of Never Alone in its contributions to the canon of videogaming today and the boundaries its presentation oversteps in the preexisting definition of what Indigenous peoples are supposed to look like when confined to a simple portrayal within a video game. The remarks of Simon J.

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Ortiz Acoma Pueblo in the closing chapter of the book deconstructs the idea of authenticity in Indigenous literary expression as follows:. Along with their native languages, Indian women and men have carried on their lives and expressions through the use of the newer languages… it is entirely possible for people to retain and maintain their lives through the use of any language. There is not a question of authenticity here; rather, it is the way that Indian people have creatively responded to forced colonization.

And this response has been one of resistance Ortiz Not only is the story of Nuna and Fox relevant in representing Indigenous peoples on their own terms for their own motives, the entirety of Never Alone serves as a foundational building block in cementing Indigenous presences within video gaming on the terms of Indigenous communities themselves. The discussion of Indigenous literary nationalism can be applied to further encompass Indigenous oral history ways that are not relegated to a sequence of words on paper.

More spaces can and must be made for Indigenous communities to engage and experiment in creative media to tell their stories for the world to hear. Never Alone Kisima Ingitchuna is a game that holds a very near and dear place to my heart. As an Indigenous gamer myself, I recognize the need for the work that this game does to exist in other communities and it fills me with joy knowing that this is only one of the very significant first steps in getting more Indigenous storytellings into the hands of gamers worldwide.

Growing up, I was only able to access the stereotypical portrayals of Indigenous peoples through mainstream video games while also being heavily influenced by American and Japanese cultural motifs found within those games. What I know is that the significance of Never Alone in its ability to carry on Indigenous knowledge through a digital medium is a welcoming for further cross-cultural sharing between Indigenous game creators and players from all walks of life.

Joseph Bruchac

Mawani, Renisa. Vancouver: UBC Press, Shaw, Adrienne. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, Weaver, Jace, Craig S. Womack, and Robert Allen Warrior. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, By inviting the game into conversation with the politics of Inuit gaming, I argue that Never Alone renews traditional gaming values within a digital sphere.

It does so to set the board, so to speak, and unsettle Southern values of domination and conquest. Inuit games in the Arctic are an assertion of sovereignty, where the rules are on Inuit terms to assure good relations with community members, visitors, and all beings on the land. The literal meaning of the term conceives of sovereignty as an ongoing relationship with Nuna, the Land, and does not include the use of strict borders. The absence of boarders is primarily because they are not useful to Inuit who must travel long distances when hunting migrating animals Conversely, Qallunaat, or non-Inuit, definitions of Arctic sovereignty are based on enclosure and attempts to manage Inuit lands and bodies.

The land cannot be claimed as it is agential and Inuit must respect it in order to live well. Online games can unite Inuit across the circumpolar that is claimed by multiple settler states and assert traditional values of gaming and competition that stand in stark contrast to Southern understanding.

I argue that Never Alone embodies the fluidity of Inuit sovereignty as it transforms storytelling and gaming protocols into digital forms. Never Alone is part of an ongoing engagement between games and self-determination. Games may seem a frivolous pastime to some; however, they played a central role in the social and material structure of Inuit daily lives. Communities often built interconnected houses in the winter, with a large qaggiq, or snow house, at the centre. Games also had multiple purposes. While some games were for entertainment, others were to ensure successful hunting and wellbeing These sports of strength and fitness helped condition bodies for tasks that they would encounter in their daily lives like hauling seal, accuracy in hunting, and endurance Auksaq.

That is certainly a Southern view of competition. I find this form of welcoming fascinating as it engages sports and games within the practice of fostering good relations. Competition in this sense is a playful form of sovereignty that untangles competition from competitiveness.

Arctic games may test physical endurance and prepare for daily life, however what is being tested in Never Alone? Nuna is certainly using every physical skill she has learned as a young person: she must run quickly, navigate ice, aim accurately with her bola, but the player is obviously sitting at their game console. They are not moving their bodies to gain skills through experiential learning. Nuna searches for the source of the storm, overcomes obstacles, and forms good relationships with animals and more-than-human beings.

We see throughout the game that Nuna accesses all the people she meets on her journey and must decide whether they can either help or harm her. Players must also learn how to cooperate well with others. For example, players who try at first to outstrip Fox will soon realize that they cannot succeed if they try to only help themselves. The player must be sure that both characters continue to help each other for the good of the community. Never Alone tests players to continually try to learn from their mistakes, reflect on their actions, and change their approach. Refers to consciousness, thought, reason, memory, will…Saying that a person has isuma is equivalent to saying that he or she exercises good judgment, reason, and emotional control at all times…The possession of isuma entails a person to be treated as an autonomous, that is, self-governing, individual whose decisions and behaviour should not be directed, in any ways, outside the limits of the role requirements to which one is expected to conform Quoted in Martin The game treats its players as autonomous beings.

It honours their sovereignty. Instead it presents unlimited amounts of space for practice and embeds videos of Elders and knowledgeable community members to learn from. Never Alone wants its players to succeed, but the player must change their approach and hone their isuma to have the maturity to apply the wisdom of others. Though the bear mauls them again and again—as was my unfortunate experience—Nuna and Fox succeed by distracting the bear together and enticing it to charge at the ice-ledge they are standing on. This is an important lesson: intelligence, attention and quick wit can out-maneuver even the strongest opponent.

Hard to explain. Our style of sports is to be good at every little thing and if somebody beat you you just go over there and shake his hand. This is somebody better than you. You gotta be thinking all the time, every part of your body, even your mind.

Because players can develop their isuma through repetition they can outmaneuver even the most cunning polar bear. As the fire burns the branches, Nuna uses her bola to break the branches, which crash through the ice. If successful at dodging his charges, then the Manslayer falls through the ice and drowns. Auksaq, Allen. Web 6 May Bennett, John and Susan Rowley Eds. Uqalurait: An Oral History of Nunavut.

Kerfoot, Brandon. The University of Oahu, Hawaii. Conference Presentation. Martin, Keavy. Qitsualik, Rachel A.

Unsuspected: A Fictional Story Based on Yupik Oral Legends Unsuspected: A Fictional Story Based on Yupik Oral Legends
Unsuspected: A Fictional Story Based on Yupik Oral Legends Unsuspected: A Fictional Story Based on Yupik Oral Legends
Unsuspected: A Fictional Story Based on Yupik Oral Legends Unsuspected: A Fictional Story Based on Yupik Oral Legends
Unsuspected: A Fictional Story Based on Yupik Oral Legends Unsuspected: A Fictional Story Based on Yupik Oral Legends
Unsuspected: A Fictional Story Based on Yupik Oral Legends Unsuspected: A Fictional Story Based on Yupik Oral Legends
Unsuspected: A Fictional Story Based on Yupik Oral Legends Unsuspected: A Fictional Story Based on Yupik Oral Legends
Unsuspected: A Fictional Story Based on Yupik Oral Legends Unsuspected: A Fictional Story Based on Yupik Oral Legends
Unsuspected: A Fictional Story Based on Yupik Oral Legends Unsuspected: A Fictional Story Based on Yupik Oral Legends

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