Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) is an incredible puzzle video game created by the Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITCI) of Alaska in 2014 that shares the stories and culture of the Iñupiaq people.
© Never Alone
We follow the story of Nuna and the fox that search for the source of an Endless Blizzard through 8 chapters of atmospheric and immersive experience. The gameplay uses standard mechanics and can be single-player or with two (split-screen). (- holds up very well in 2021)
The game received glorious reception and is the first Native American owned production. We will not spoil the story in this article so you can enjoy the experience yourself.
E-Line Media and CITCI collaborated in the creation of a fun and culturally accurate game.
About Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITCI)
The Cook Inlet Tribal Council serves the Native people of the Cook Inlet region of Alaska since 1983 with educational, social and cultural activities. Notably, they support 2000 students per year through their classes as well as host life-long learning initiatives.
With the organisation’s program and outreach growing, the CICTI needed a new organisational structure to fund their projects, thus establishing the for-profit CICTI Enterprises, Inc. (if for-profit cultural entities interest you, check our article: Corporate Museum: Corporate philanthropy for heritage)
While planning the CICTI expanding projects, they emphasised on:
- youth engagement
- local culture promotion
All of which are necessary elements of video games.
© Never Alone
The making of the game:
The video game format is an ideal medium that further reflects the Native tradition of oral storytelling. Never Alone is narrated in Iñupiaq with English subtitles simulating the powerful experience of an elder telling you a story. These attributes create a meaningful connection to the past and local culture. Moreover, the game utilises the storytelling technique of using one story for different purposes.
To truly capture the culture, folklore and identity of Iñupiaq, the development collaborated with the community with the consultation of 24 cultural ambassadors. The game’s aesthetic follows the same values as the artists studied and drew inspiration from native art and culture.
The CICTI wanted to offer to the younger generation positive native imagery and engagement with their culture. The game fulfilled more than its purpose by serving the local community and offering a cultural experience and introduction to their native heritage to an international audience.
Would you like for us to Livestream a playthrough? Comment below!
I want to learn more:
Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna)– Official page
PC gamer review– Never Alone
Never Alone Interview Series: Dima Veryovka (Art Director for Never Alone)
Storytelling for the Next Generation, pg 21. The Interactive Past: Archaeology, Heritage & Video Games by Angus Mol, Csilla Ariese, and Aris Politopoulos – we will share more about this publication in a future post.