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    “Run, little fox!” wasn’t something I had ever imagined yelling fearfully to my seven year old, while watching a polar bear chase him down. We generally don’t use animal names as terms of endearment in our house, but he took to this role very convincingly. In Never Alone, the animations are incredibly cute. Nick just wanted to frolic as my little girl’s artic fox companion, allowing us to experience this story as it is meant to be; together.

    Knowledge of the Iñupiaq people is new to both of us, but it was interesting to note how the questions Nick raised differed from mine. Childish inquiries should hold some weight within a culture of oral storytelling tradition so, when PCPP interviewed Lead Designer, Grant Roberts, I included several of the questions Nick had asked me while playing. Learning what the story evoked for a seven year old, highlighted the moving aspects of its delivery to me, too.

    Nick was first very concerned to know whether The Terrible Man was actually real. Roberts simply tells us, “The Manslayer shows up in a lot of Alaska Native stories.” I went looking for some more but came up empty, highlighting the way Never Alone is truly bringing this special content to light for many people. Myself, I was interested in how the game was funded and Roberts says, “The Cook Inlet Tribal Council formed Upper One Games to help bring Alaska Native stories to the world.”

    Next, my son wanted to know if hunting for ducks with a bola is hard. Roberts says, “Using a bola for anything is hard, but if you practice every day it gets easier!” Made sense to Nick, as did his answer about whether his little fox was smarter than a dog, “Dogs are pretty smart but arctic foxes are fast and smart.” Indeed, the way my son wanted to play was to dash back and forth, teasing our pursuers and generally demonstrate his speed in comparison to my character.He also wanted to know what made the little girl so brave. Roberts answer, “She’s brave because her people are in danger from the endless blizzard,” prompted reflection about how people might rise to meet a challenge in the face of danger. In terms of what the experience offered Nick, I really like this idea. I was interested in what Roberts most hoped players would take from Never Alone and he says, “That the Iñupiaq values of
    resilience and interdependence can make for a really fun game.”

    Nick and I enjoyed Never Alone immensely. I’d definitely recommend this game for parents and their little foxes. It’s a simple platformer which shares culture, even in the mechanical progression provided by spirits. As to why the game was presented with explicit video insights, Roberts says, “The Iñupiaq people are a living culture, so it was important that we show real faces and voices from the Alaska Native community along with Nuna and Fox.”

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