Contributed by Lindsay Randall
A few months back I wrote about archaeogaming and my friend Bill’s foray into this unique branch of archaeology. Little did I know that I would be immersing myself into it even more. I have even learned to play a videogame during this new endeavor!
Tom Anderson, faculty in Computer Science at PA contacted me after reading my last blog post as he was interested in collaborating with the Peabody to do something related to videogames.
Okay then………. game on (literally!)
While learning more about archaeogaming – defined as the archaeology in and of videogames – I learned about the ATARI video game burial and excavation, countless examples of the past being incorporated into the landscapes of games such as Zelda, and explored real pieces of material culture that could be found in games such as Minecraft.
As I was researching different avenues that the class could focus on, I stumbled upon the most amazing game: Never Alone or Kisima Ingitchuna.
The game is centered on a traditional story of the Iñupiat people, and also a collaboration between the tribe and game developers.
The game structure of Never Alone is a puzzle platformer where in order to win you must play as both Nuna, a young girl, and her fox companion, highlighting the Iñupiat ideal of cooperation and community.
Adding depth is the inclusion of Cultural Insights throughout the game for the player to access and learn more.
For the Computer Science class, I pulled artifacts from our Arctic collections for the students to explore. The students were asked to not only work together to figure out what the artifacts are and how they were used, but to also identify which artifacts were depicted within the game.
An example of an artifact from the Peabody collections found in the game are labrets – facial jewelry traditionally worn by men on either side of their mouth – as seen on the character Manslayer.
This was an exciting collaboration to work on and allowed me the opportunity to explore an aspect of archaeology that I only recently began thinking about.
And recently there was an exciting announcement of a sequel to Never Alone!
Never Alone and the need for American Indian narratives in games
How a Smithsonian Artifact Ended Up in a Popular Video Game
Updating Centuries-Old Folklore With Puzzles And Power-Ups
How a 150-year-old Tlingit robe is inspiring Alaska’s next generation of engineers