Videogames as sites of survival? Krzysztof Ząbecki, ‘Promoting and Preserving Indigenous Languages and Cultures in the Americas Through Video Games’, in S. D. Brunn, R. Kehrein (eds), Handbook of the Changing World Language Map, Springer, 2019


Abstract: Recently, video games have become one of the fastest growing and most important forms of entertainment. Their popularity among young people makes them a potentially useful tool in education, prompting research on the possibilities of implementing video games in teaching. This chapter discusses the potential of video games in promoting and preserving autochthonous languages and cultures in the Americas. Indigenous peoples of the Americas appear in video games for decades, but in most cases the depiction is strongly stereotyped and racialized. At the same time, in official versions of mainstream games, there are no indigenous language versions. However, there are possibilities to change this negative situation. Examples of possible actions include influencing and exposing developers who present indigenous peoples in a negative, oversimplified way, making indigenous-language versions of already existing games, as well as developing new ones that show autochthonous inhabitants of the Americas as subjects, and not objects. Such games may serve to promote indigenous cultures by changing the prevailing image among nonautochthonous players. However, they can also help to preserve these cultures and restore feeling of self-esteem and dignity within indigenous peoples, especially from younger generations. This chapter discusses the history of depicting native inhabitants of the Americas in video games, different forms of actions taken up to now to change their stereotypical image and help implementing indigenous languages in games, as well as economical, technical, and legal issues with putting these solutions into practice.

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