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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    Russian shovelware developer puts out game insensitive and offensive to Australian indigenous population (and really any civilised person). Hmmmm. Honestly, I can't see them doing any form of consultation.

    No Australian developers would even think about producing a game like this. I think the NSWALC are preaching to the choir.

      Not everyone is blessed with common sense. That's why there's a lot of lawyers out there...

        The game's a piece of crap, as if they'd even spend a couple of free skype calls consulting.

    Read .It is not the aim of the game to kill aboriginals, nor do you have to kill them to win the game. The Aboriginals were in the game due to the location the game is set in (ie Logic not Racism).

    What's the difference between this and playing Call Of Duty or Battlefield or the like and shooting Russians / Chinese / Arabs / etc. etc? Does that make you racist towards any of those people?
    Far Cry 2 was set in Africa and involved shooting dark-skinned Africans. Does that make anyone who played Far Cry 2 racist towards Africans?

    Again, much hype from the Perpetually Outraged over nothing.

      I feel like you may have missed some crucial points in this story. It's not just about the killing (notice I didn't even mention that?), it's about the outdated and culturally damaging depictions of Indigenous Australians. The call from NSWALC is an offer to help ensure this doesn't continue.

      I'm not seeing "outrage" here. I'm seeing an opportunity for collaboration when creating games with the people the games are about. What's so bad about that?

        When is the game set? If the game is set in the past then that is it really "outdated"

        The point is that cultural sensitivity is evolved over time. You cannot expect a developer to consult an Indigenous elder every time an artistic decision has to be made in a product. IF this was to happen you'd be the same person complaining that apps cost too much money.

        Progress is made through mistakes and trying to force people to stop making mistakes is forcing people to stop making progress.

          It doesn't cost a thing to consult the community about cultural issues. If you're making a game about a race of people, it's lazy and ignorant to not seek to educate yourself about them.

          Pointing out when a mistake is made, and giving advice on how it can rectified in the future, is one of the crucial components to the "progress via mistakes" process you speak of here.

    Sounds like the aboriginal ED article all over again

    maybe some ppl should get their head out of their a55 and focus on important issues, like hunger, pollution, global warming, terrorists etc

    "A good example of this is Brett Leavy, who is using games to explore and teach the Indigenous history of Brisbane and Sydney." What history? Did they build anything? No. Did they grow anything? No. Did they even do anything? Aboriginal history is like the history of a really long camping trip where you forgot to take a tent or a sleeping bag.

      This is an incredibly blinkered view to hold. Aboriginal Australians have inhabited the land for 60,000 years. Here's a starting point for you:

      Indigenous Australians have been custodians of this land for centuries, and have a rich culture that yes - includes engineering, building, inventions, astronomy, art and religion. If you are genuinely interested, I suggest you seek out the great books out there written by Aboriginal men and women about what is in all likelihood the oldest surviving culture on Earth. That's nothing to be scoffed at, especially considering the systematic attempt at cultural genocide that has occurred in this country over the last 200+ years.

      Did they build anything?

      How have you never heard of Uluru? It's only an Australian icon. Way to be ignorant.

        How have you never heard of Uluru? It's only an Australian icon. Way to be ignorant.
        I really hope you are being sarcastic.

        Last edited 20/01/16 8:18 am

      Tony Abbott is that you? Only Tony Abbott would hold a view of Aboriginals so ignorant and bigoted

    @mdolly They built a large rock... well that is impressive, Uluru is actually Ayers Rock ey :\

    So are you saying they built Ayers Rock?

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