We’ve taken a look at how Inuit are represented in some games in previous blog posts under the heading “representation.” Stereotypes are applied to fit our rather narrow view of how these “mythical” beings exist in the world. However, more than just characteristics and costumes, some games develop full plots around Inuit and they are, quite frankly, hilarious.
In this blog post I will share a few different Inuit “plots-points” used to help build a setting and an emotional attachment to the characters in the game. I present them largely without comment, beyond describing those things I found amusing. Each game uses the stories to push the motivation of the player into accomplishing the tasks set out by the game.
This first video is from the iOs game “Frozen” and is likely the most detailed plot you can find in a game about Inuit/Eskimos. Told in 16 Bit-SNES style graphics it nails one thing perfectly. There are snow-made satellite dishes on the top of every igloo.
The second videos touch on a plot device that a lot of developers like to use when creating stories around people from the Arctic – penguins. In this, the penguins have been kidnapped and must be rescued. Those bastard Walrusi. I’ve neve trusted them.
I’d like to give the developers the benefit of the doubt and assume they know there are no penguins here. The reality is they make good plot devices and you can’t blame them for “stretching” reality.
The third video could be (from what I can find) the earliest “story telling” about Inuit/Eskimo life in video games. Released for the Amiga ST, “Eskimo Games” actually tells an interesting story (before diverting into a standard “mini-game” party type game), about a man thirsting for a new Skidoo and choosing to participate in some games to achieve. One could argue it is a metaphor for Inuit adaptation into the modern world, but that’s very very unlikely. This is not exactly a game that seems to be pushing to make a larger point.
These stories are interesting and likely never considered for any potential cultural impact they may have. But the reality is that they do shape how we see Inuit. When repeatedly the same tropes are thrown out there to represent Inuit in storytelling it begins to shape an image that has been about 200 years in the making. They are characters, they are as real as Pokemon. Something we can play with, use to advance a story and then forget about.
100% accuracy isn’t needed. There are liberties we all take with our storytelling for the purpose of entertainment. However, we’re not dealing with Orcs, Trolls, or Elves here – who (unfortunately), have no one here to speak for them. Future gaming projects that deal with an Inuit theme have no excuses not to get it right anymore. We can consult and work with those we intend to represent, the Internet means none of us have a reason not to figure it out.