Sunday Loot: Indigenous Games & Game Devs You Should Know

Never Alone

Happy Sunday, friends! We have a new and very special loot haul that we’re super excited to share with you today. This particular list was brought to you by Melissa, a fellow FemHype writer, after a rousing discussion with Ishki regarding the importance of indigenous stories in games. Ishki is an independent game developer who was featured in a recent remeshed article, “7 More Women of Color Game Developers You Should Know.” Take a look there once you’re finished here, as it’s an absolutely necessary list that kicked off our efforts here.

While you’re enjoying that mid-afternoon cup of tea, give “The post-apocalyptic dimensional space of Native video game design” a read as well. There are plenty of amazing quotes in there from Elizabeth LaPensée, a game developer of Anishinaabe and Métis descent, where she discusses just how imperative it is that indigenous culture and history is preserved in games.

“It’s not sci-fi to us. It already happened. Because of that, what are the stories we have to tell, the ways of life we have to show other people? We’re doing more than surviving. We’re continuing our traditions in ways that are malleable to the situations we’re in now.”

As always, if you know of an inclusive gaming space or games project you’d love to see promoted on our Sunday Loot series, drop us a comment below or check out our contact list! We’d love to hear from you, especially about new and exciting spaces where all gamers can hang out. ✌

Aurion

Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan

We initially mentioned this game when it popped up on Kickstarter, and since then, a total of 1,310 backers have enthusiastically pledged €49,774 in support. This is a really big deal, because Kiro’o Games is the first video game studio of Central Africa. The team is dedicated to telling the stories of and providing opportunities for indigenous developers in the industry right now.

“We are twenty young Cameroonians working on the project, one the few, if not the only, game developers in Cameroon. We all graduated [from] Cameroonian Universities and high schools (no one in the team has studied abroad). We want to show the world our professionalism and stand as models of inspiration for our young brothers and sisters. We are grateful to be assisted by consultants and volunteers.”

An action RPG steeped in African myths and folklore, Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan will be released on April 14, 2016. If you’re like us and you totally can’t wait that long, check out the official trailer!

Gabriela Aveiro-Ojeda

Gabriela Aveiro-Ojeda

“Born and raised in Paraguay, South America, I draw a lot of inspiration for my work from culture’s folklore and oral traditions. I believe storytelling is crucial in giving direction to one’s work and helps bring it to life.”

A storyteller first and an animator second, Gabriela Aveiro-Ojeda is a developer who should absolutely be on your radar. Not only does she create breathtaking work in the games space, but she also actively pushes for diversity by volunteering her time and connecting with international organizations such as IGDA Paraguay.

You can check out more of her work over there. In addiction, we highly recommend that you take some time today to watch her Alterconf Toronto talk, “Preserving culture through the power of games,” from 2015. Listen and learn, folks!

Love Punks

Love Punks

This game, which was lovingly crafted entirely by aboriginal Australian youth, is part of The Yijala Yaja Project, which “seeks to highlight cultural heritage as living, continually evolving, and in the here and now, rather than of the past.” Love Punks features the cast of NEOMAD, a super charming comic neatly presented in three episodes. The story of how all this came together is both fascinating and absolutely heartening.

“In 2011, a group of young people from Roebourne got together to make a zombie film about how the energy of youth can transform and bring about change to things/situations that are stuck. The idea was that zombies just needed a bit of love and fun and they would come to life again. It was set to the song ‘What the World Needs Now’ and the characters the kids created for themselves became known collectively as the ‘Love Punks.’”

If you’re looking to experience a fun, breakout hit of a game created by wickedly talented young people, give Love Punks a try right from your browser. You’ll be really glad you did!

Natives in Game Dev Gathering

Natives in Game Dev Gathering

“The Natives in Game Dev Gathering recognizes the work that comes before and that which is coming ahead to honor the ongoing impact of Indigenous people of North America on game industry ranging from AAA to indie.”

This time last year, the University of California, Santa Cruz hosted a “Natives in Game Dev Gathering” with much success. While there doesn’t appear to be a similar event planned for 2016, we thought it was important to share the names of those who spoke about their experiences and offered much-needed insight into this exciting movement. Check out the list in that link above and you’re sure to have a ton of new people to follow.

You’ll note that Manuel Marcano was among those who attended, a Taíno developer who worked on AAA titles such as BioShock and Max Payne 3. John Romero, an award-winning and self-taught programmer, was also there, having worked on Wolfenstein 3D, DOOM, and Quake.

Never Alone

Never Alone

Last, but never least, Never Alone has continued to spark a discussion that shook the gaming industry to its very core. With stunning graphics, soothing atmospheric sounds, and a story rich with cultural traditions, this is the most prominent indigenous game to rise to stardom in recent years. Heather O previously reflected on her experience playing the game for FemHype in “The Preservation of Culture.” We also played the game some time later for #FemHypeYT in case you’re looking to pair that review with a Let’s Play.

“We paired world class game makers with Alaska Native storytellers and elders to create a game which delves deeply into the traditional lore of the Iñupiat people to present an experience like no other.”

Thank you, Never Alone, for challenging all of us to see games as both an educational and deeply important force for good. We’ll see that your work is continued.

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