For more than 3,000 years, the Iñupiat people of Alaska have passed on stories to their children. Like all enduring fiction, the stories deliver truths that transcend cultural shifts. They act as seeds of moral instruction and help to define and preserve the community’s identity. The videogame Never Alone‘s purpose is to preserve fading tribal stories, but in order to convince the Iñupiat young people of the stories’ enduring power and worth, it must also succeed as a video game. In a sense, it was perhaps the riskiest way of approaching the Iñupiat’s problem: this kind of storytelling requires an entirely new vocabulary. Reconciling narrative demands with the need to be engaging and functional remains one of the greatest challenges in game development; it’s a struggle for even the largest and best-funded teams.
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