Consultation With Indigenous Communities A Must For Game Developers

The NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) is urging game developers to work together with Indigenous videogame and app developers and communities to “share knowledge and to better appreciate our proud history and culture.” The call for culturally appropriate content comes after the release, and subsequent removal of Survival Island 3 from online sale.

NSWALC Chair Roy Ah-See said the public had sent a clear message that Survival Island 3 — Australian Story 3D was unacceptable and disrespectful to Aboriginal people.

“The game’s depiction of Aboriginal people is inaccurate, insensitive and demeans the important traditions, culture and ongoing connection Aboriginal people hold to land,” he said, welcoming Federal Communication Minister Mitch Fifield’s decision to order a departmental investigation into the circumstances of the game’s release to online stores.

“We are heartened that the Australian public has taken a strong stand against racism and discrimination,” Cr Ah-See said in response to a petition that gathered almost 90,000 signatures. It successfully demanded the the removal of the game from Google Play, Apple’s App Store and Amazon.

Including, or even focusing on Indigenous content in videogames as a medium for storytelling and cultural learning is something that should be encouraged. However, gaining appropriate permissions from Elders and communities is crucial.

“Apps and other forms of technology are valued by Aboriginal communities in New South Wales as another way to connect our younger generations with our languages, culture and stories,” says Mr Ah-See.

Working with Indigenous developers is one solution to help avoid disasters like Survival Island 3 from happening in the future.

“There are emerging Aboriginal video game and app developers who are playing an invaluable role in using technology to strengthen our culture,” says Mr Ah-See.

A good example of this is Brett Leavy, who is using games to explore and teach the Indigenous history of Brisbane and Sydney.

Mr Ah-See says “This is a great teaching resource for Aboriginal communities and for the broader public and can also address the misinformation that drives some of the racism and discrimination experienced by Aboriginal people.

“There is great potential for video game and app designers to work together and we hope the response from the on-line petition can translate into something positive for Aboriginal game and app designers.”

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