June 22, 2013

Upper One Games

Indigenous-owned game company making titles on culture

By Greg ToppoAs they searched over the past few years for investment opportunities, members of the Cook Inlet Tribal Council of Alaska checked out everything from real estate to funeral homes. But each time she heard the details, President and CEO Gloria O'Neill would say to herself, "That's just not doing it for me. We have to do something really connected to our youth."

This week at the annual Games for Change Festival, they revealed where they're putting their money: video games.

The council's homegrown startup, Upper One Games, LLC, will produce commercial and educational titles "to engage young people in fresh, vibrant ways" using games that teach about culture. Upper One will be the first indigenous-owned video game company in the USA, its founders say.

Its name a play on "The Lower 48," how Alaskans refer to most of the rest of the USA, Upper One will partner with New York-based E-Line Media, with plans to release its first two titles next year: a commercial "cinematic platform" game and a digital history curriculum modeled after Historia, a series of tabletop games developed by a pair of Texas middle-school teachers.
Comment:  For more on Native-themed video games, see Native Values in Assassin's Creed 3 and Kachina Video Game.

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