– Cindy Ou
Never Alone is a platform game developed Upper One Games and is available on PS4, Xbox, PS3, Linux, PC and Mac through Steam.
It is a story platform game that focuses on giving a powerful narration on the lives of the Alaskan Inupiaq community.
While we may have learned about the various aboriginal communities in North America during school, very few of us actually take this knowledge to heart after the test. I personally did not think about these issues very much simply because it never affected me. The few times I did pay attention I was told that Indigenous communities receive many benefits such as free schooling, tax credits etc. I am sure that indigenous people know that their fellow citizens know very little about their culture and their lives which quite frankly is a shame because they have a rich history that speaks to the very core of humanity.
Perhaps for this reason, the Inupiaq leaders decided to create a game that would cater to a younger audience. Every stage and every obstacle within the game represents a story or a cultural aspect of the Inuit community. For instance, in stage there were these multi-colored ghosts that tried to knock you off the platform. These ghosts represent the aurora borealis where it is told that if they catch a child alone outside, they will knock his/her head off and play ball with it.
The game itself is very similar to the other hundreds of platform games out there but what sets it apart is its unique story. It is unique because it is real. You learn about the importance being in harmony with nature and to respect the environment as it provides you food and shelter. By incorporating elements of the culture into the game, the play through experience is entertaining and educational.
Games like Never, Alone provide context and understanding to the complex situations that different indigenous communities are in.
These situations include, impoverishment, gambling, alcohol and drug abuse. This is, in part, the legacy of the residential school system where Christian Euro-Canadian settlers took indigenous children from their homes and placed them in a boarding school system. At schools they were forbidden from speaking their native languages, forbidden to celebrate their own culture and forbidden to see their families. What’s worse is that there was rampant sexual exploitation of these children which led to trauma that is still felt to this day. As these children grew up, their own problems began to manifest in their own kids and so begins a vicious cycle of poverty and addiction.
The game is also a celebration of the resilient spirit of Indigenous communities, who continue to thrive despite historical attempts to erase them.
In order to ensure that the past does not repeat itself, it is important to understand how and why it ever happened in the first place. Never Alone, gives us a glimpse into the lives of one indigenous community and challenges us to have a deeper engagement with all indigenous nations.
theSebie is an indie game review site started by Cindy back in June 2015. Her and a team of content creators discovered that gaming is a powerful medium that can reflect many of society’s deepest issues.