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By any view you want to take, Terrell McClain has been an big asset to the Dallas Cowboys this season. by DawnMacelli @BTB_Macelli Oct 10, 2016, 6:00p. tweet · share · pin · Rec. Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports. Defensive tackle Terrell McClain is …
It’s called “Never Alone” (or “Kisima Ingitchuna”). And it wasn’t developed by Nintendo, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, or any of the other big game studios.
It was the brainchild of the Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) a nonprofit community support organization for Alaska Natives and their families.
As more and more Alaska Natives move out of traditional communities and into urban areas, indigenous languages are disappearing and with them, traditional knowledge. Many don’t have a choice because climate change threatens to erode and, in some cases, even destroy native towns and villages around the state.
For many, life in Alaska’s cities is hardly easy. According to Amy Fredeen, executive vice president and chief financial officer of the CITC, Alaska Native youth in Anchorage are plagued by high dropout and suicide rates. Passing traditional knowledge down under these conditions becomes all the more challenging.
“We saw video games as a way to connect to our youth in a place where they’re already at,” Fredeen told Upworthy. The group also hoped that sales of the video game would help reduce their dependence on federal grant money.
There was a problem, however: No one on the CITC had ever made a video game before.
Undaunted, the council cold-called E-Line Media, a Seattle-based entertainment and video game development company with a message: “Come to Anchorage.”
According to Fredeen, E-Line urged the council to approach the project with caution: Video game development is a highly risky business and particularly challenging for a nonprofit with limited cash supplies.
But the group was determined and the developers were impressed.
E-Line signed on. And off they went.
“It ran the gamut from being terrible stereotypes to just appropriation,” Fredeen said.
The group found that not only were native video game characters exceedingly rare, but when they did appear, it was often as sidekicks exhibiting a mishmash of cultural signifiers cobbled together from various and unrelated communities or, worse, as one-dimensional villains.
“Some of them were really almost obscene,” Fredeen said.
Nuna, the game’s hero, teams up with an arctic fox to find the source of the blizzard that’s threatening her community. Players explore themes of resourcefulness, cooperation, and the transfer of knowledge from one generation to the next through the beautifully rendered gameplay.
“When I saw that come to life on screen, when they were using the scrimshaw in an animated way to tell a story, it brought tears to my eyes.” Amy Fredeen
E-Line credits the game’s part-Iupiaq lead writer, Ishmael Hope, for helping ensure that Alaska Native voices were front and center in the development process.
We want to be culturally appropriate without cultural appropriation,” Matt Swanson, one of the game’s producers told Upworthy.
According to Swanson, the original villain of the game was slated to be a raven before their collaborators pointed out that wouldn’t make sense in an Alaska Native context.
“As Westerners, we have lots of stories where [the raven] is a trickster character, and things like that. And they pushed back on that and said, ‘Look, that’s not really culturally appropriate. The raven in our culture is a much more sort of sacred character.'”
It was a surprise to the E-Line team, which highlighted the importance of listening and their role as students in the story development process.
In addition to the main game, “Never Alone” features hours of documentary footage of Alaska Native elders and community members sharing traditional stories, explaining customs, and passing down knowledge.
The team was initially worried that the footage which the player has the option of watching would disrupt the gameplay but later received tons of positive feedback on the feature.
Scrimshaw is a traditional form of bone or ivory carving. According to Fredeen, while scrimshaw today is most often done in single panel, it was traditionally used in Alaska Native communities as a multi-panel, serial storytelling device.
“When I saw that come to life on screen, when they were using the scrimshaw in an animated way to tell a story, it brought tears to my eyes,” Fredeen said. “The instant I saw that, I knew the team was listening to who we were as a people and how we really connected with each other.”
“After the game launched, we’ve been getting this incredible response from people of all different backgrounds on how getting to see an indigenous main character in a game, and seeing cultural representation in a game has resonated with them,” Swanson said.
For Fredeen, the importance of that representation can’t be overstated and was evident from the first time she saw a group of Alaska Native youth encounter the game.
“When they saw the video game on the screen, and when they saw a character that looked like them and the dress was familiar to them, and they saw their community members on the video with the video game, you could just see the pride on their faces.”
It’s been amazing all around,” Fredeen said.
“People just get excited in Alaska,” she added. “… They’re excited to see something that was made with Alaskans.”
Being the new kid on campus is as freeing as it is overwhelming. There are few experiences in life more exciting than breaking free from parental supervision and starting out with a clean slate. College is a four-year transition into adulthood that is yours to control, and there are many directions you can take.
Incoming freshmen should not worry about a lack of hobbies or campus clubs to kill spare time between classes. These days, no matter what your interest is computer games, skydiving, academic pursuits, zombies, nature or even “Harry Potter” fan fiction you can bet there’s a university club for it.
Here are five of the most unique university clubs and activities I’ve come across in my research so far:
Humans vs. zombies is the campus activity that answers the prayers of The Walking Dead fans everywhere. Like a game of tag on steroids, humans vs. zombies is a weeklong adrenaline rush complete with Nerf guns, designated campus safety zones and team alliances.
All players with the exception of one original zombie start the journey as humans. The game ends when all humans have been tagged by zombies, or all humans have completed their missions and survived the week. Since its creation at Goucher college in 2005, humans vs. zombies has been played at over 1,000 locations across six continents.
The muggle adaptation of the magical sport from “Harry Potter” has taken college campuses by storm since it started at Middlebury College in 2005.
A combination of lacrosse, dodgeball and rugby, Quidditch is a co-ed, full-contact sport. The team consists of: one keeper to guard the team’s hoops, one seeker to catch the elusive golden snitch (a person dressed up with a tennis ball in a tube sock attached to their waist), two beaters to block the other team with dodge balls and three chasers to throw volleyballs through the opposing team’s hoops and score.
It’s a game that requires both mental and physical agility, and yes, brooms are included. The official governing body for the sport, US Quidditch, has almost 200 teams nationwide with over 4,000 athletes.
League of Legends, a multiplayer online battle arena video game, is the reigning champion of online sports. In 2014, over 27 million watchers worldwide tuned in to the final round of the League of Legends world championship in Seoul, South Korea.
To put that into perspective, the final championship round garnered a larger audience than either the World Series or the NBA finals. So the fact that it’s a huge hit with the college gaming crowd is no surprise. For the hardcore gamers, there’s a perk to this: Several universities now offer scholarships dedicated to League of Legends excellence. Even better? Some colleges offer an information technology degree with cyber gaming as a concentration, so you can turn your video game passion into your career.
Although squirrel feeding has a long history on the University of Michigan campus, it wasn’t until two students created this club in 2002 that the hobby began to pick up speed. By 2004, over 400 members joined the club, making it one of the largest student organizations at Michigan.
Today, it’s the perfect club for animal lovers who go nuts over feeding and watching these rodents in their natural habitat. Dedicated to the welfare of the squirrels, members can expect these club meetings to include nothing but fun and the sheer joy of feeding peanuts to resident squirrels.
Not even a bad exam grade can bring Northwestern University’s happiness club members down. Since 2010, this nonprofit student group has brought free hugs and smiles to stressed out students around the Northwestern campus.
Club members host annual events where you can relive your childhood with sidewalk chalking, jump rope, hopscotch and four-square, among other carefree activities. If you’re looking to make a new friend, or simply just need a pick-me-up, these guys make it easy.
I’ve found that when it comes to campus clubs and hobbies, the sky’s the limit. Starting out in college is a huge adjustment, and getting active with campus activities is a great way to find your niche and relieve the stress of adult responsibilities.
Getting involved is also a fantastic way to put your leadership skills on display. So, that unusual hobby you have? It may just be the next big campus tradition.
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