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Many Indigenous writers, artists, and scholars have suggested that video games might offer important new formats through which to present the multidirectional and embodied narratives embedded within traditional stories. In this talk given March 2, 2017, Jodi A. Byrd, associate professor of English and Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, considers how play, story, and the structures of settler colonialism influence video games such as Never Alone, a side-scrolling platform game that Iñupiat community elders developed in collaboration with a non-native game design studio.
Deploying traditional story, Iñupiat language and culture, and engaging in cooperative game play modes, Never Alone seeks to challenge mainstream games to represent indigenous narratives and philosophies. Celebrated as one of the most successful world-building games, Never Alone invites us to think further about how code and interface—the structures of interface—affect how gamers are allowed to play the story. How might indigenous game designs transform structures of settler colonialism and enable indigenous kinship relationalities to space as a form of decolonial resistance?