Video games have had an interesting journey. Increasing in complexity and sophistication, they are today’s most interactive way to tell a story. Recently, they entered the mainstream, no longer regarded as the lonely bastion of nerddome and geekery. This year has been particularly interesting in the world of video games and gamers. We have seen a lot of discussion in the mainstream media about the roles of games in our society. (We touched on this subject in our Feminists Are Ruining Video Games post). Feminist media critics have called attention to the dearth of women and minorities in video games themselves as well as among the developers. While big titles like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty are not very progressive in their politics, there are many games that are doing something innovative and beautiful with the genre. One such game is Never Alone.
Never Alone is based on a traditional story known as Kanuk Sayuka and the experiences of Alaska natives. It tells the story of a young Inupiaq girl and her Arctic fox as they set out to save her village from a never-ending blizzard. The art is breathtakingly beautiful, heavily influenced by the native motifs. Take a look at the trailer:
What makes Never Alone so unique is the approach the developers took to telling a story about native peoples. They steered clear of appropriation. They worked directly with Inupiaq community, it’s elders, storytellers, and youth. There is no exotification or othering. Instead, the developers used this rich medium to give a national platform for native voices and stories to be heard. The Inupiaq people welcomed this game as an opportunity to share their culture and traditions with the younger generations that are quickly losing their roots, entrenched by the mainstream western culture.
If you’re interested in learning about Alaska native culture or just want to play a game with a female protagonist that is dressed appropriately for the weather and task at hand, Never Alone is available on multiple platforms. Get it on Steam ($13.49), PS4, or Xbox.