Alaskan Inupiat group develops video game

Never Alone expected this fall for PS4 and XBox One

CBC News May 18, 2014


A video game that draws from Alaskan Inupiat culture is expected to be released this fall.

Never Alone is the first title from Upper One Games, a joint venture between the Cook Inlet Tribal Council and E-Line Media of New York.

“We call it an atmospheric puzzle platformer,” says Sean Vesce of E-Line Media.

“The game stars two characters: an Inupiat girl named Nuna and her unlikely companion, an Arctic fox. The game provides an adventure in which the two characters must work together to overcome challenges.”

Each of the characters has unique skills and abilities. The game can be played by a single player, who can switch between the two characters at any time, or by two players.

Never Alone is the first title from Upper One Games, a joint venture between the Cook Inlet Tribal Council and E-Line Media of New York. (courtesy of Upper One Games)

Vesce says it’s styled as a 2-D side scroller, where players jump and run through perilous environments found in the North slope such as ice fields, ice floes and forests.

The over-arching storyline is told by an Inupiat storyteller.

Amy Fredeen, executive vice president of both the Cook Inlet Tribal Council and Upper One Games, says the game highlights the value Inupiat culture puts on interdependence.

She says the tribal council chose to found Upper One Games to connect with the growing population of Inupiat youth.

“What’s been really phenomenal is seeing the video game come around as a new way of storytelling,” she says.

“Indigenous people have always had an indigenous way of learning, and we have our Western models that we work within now, but we’ve always held on to our storytelling and our dancing as a way to pass wisdom and knowledge. And this is just another new way we’re going to be able to share this with the younger generation.”

She also says the game is an invitation to anyone to learn more about Inupiat culture.

The game is expected to be released this fall for PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Created By Students: Play the First Shoshone Language Video Game

 A screenshot from "Enee," a student created Shoshone language video game.
A screenshot from “Enee,” a student created Shoshone language video game.

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

When given an assignment to use modern technology to teach the Shoshone language and culture in an entertaining way, students from the Shoshone/Goshute Youth Language Apprenticeship Program, or SYLAP, at the University of Utah came up with a computer game called “Enee.”

Enee in Shoshone means “scary, fearful, frightening, oh!” and it’s a fitting title for the dark and edgy aesthetics of the game play, which according to a university press release were inspired by filmmaker Tim Burton.

The game is based on traditional Shoshone stories. The game’s main character, Enee, lives in the past and is thrown into some of those stories.

“Working with Shoshone youth on this project has shown me that games can do more than just entertain,” said Zeph Fagergren, master’s student in the university’s Entertainment Arts and Engineering program, in a release.  “‘Enee’ is more than a game, it is a tool to help people keep their culture alive and well. Using the video game format makes it possible for to anyone to learn the Shoshone culture and language.”

Playing the game does require basic understanding of Shoshone because there is no English used in the game.

“I think it is great we can incorporate our traditional culture with modern technology,” said Cora Burchett, a student in SYLAP and one of the three game developers.  “‘Enee’ carries on traditions that my grandparents taught me, and I believe that is very important to my future.”

The development team wanted to bring some of the traditional Shoshone stories to the modern world because they aren’t being shared like they used to be.

“‘Enee’ demonstrates that the Shoshone language and culture has a place in the modern world,” said Marianna Di Paolo, director of the Shoshoni Language Project and associate professor of anthropology at the University of Utah. “Developing ‘Enee’ was a great example of the goals of the language project: to open the doors to higher education for young Shoshone people and also help them see they don’t have to give up on their language and culture to do so. In fact, just the opposite is true.”

To play the game, which continues to be tested and developed, visit