'This Land Is My Land' Wants to Sell an Indigenous Revenge Fantasy, But Without Any Indigenous Input

Set in a 19th century-inspired Western setting, This Land Is My Land, an early access indie game released in 2019, gives players the role of a First Nations Chief trying to protect his people from the European settlers. The trailers include footage featuring the Chief character in question armed and attacking settlers. To Native people such as myself, this could very much shake out to be a strangely cathartic experience to play through. Perhaps a little dark and violent for some, but cathartic nonetheless!


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/m7eq5y/this-land-is-my-land-wants-to-sell-an-indigenous-revenge-fantasy-but-without-any-indigenous-input
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I worked for 6 months on a game that was explicitly modeled after this one (nameddropped constantly)
, but themed around native Australians. the entire thing was a sham, purposefully stuck in dev-hell to keep getting money from natives folks and the aus government so the gov can look like they’re “doing something.” no natives consulted and was run by a 100% legit scam artist who lied about literally everything. I got fired cuz i couldn’t work in that state of complete non-functional stagnation, (and then they tried to gaslight me and say i quit), but the entire thing is still chugging along.

I don’t think these devs are like that, they’re actually delivering a product if nothing else. we never gave anyone anything. But clearly they’re going about some things in the wrong way, and their distance from the subject is obscuring things they should be aware of. To them, they’re prob too far along in development to change this fundamental stuff even if they agreed and wanted to, so they’re on the defensive. I get it, i’ve literally been on the other side of this exact stuff so i get it, but there were so many ways to avoid this situation that they brought it on themselves.

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That they’re Ukrainian devs, with Ukraine’s own history of being, for lack of a better term on my part, colonized, with even the present concern of what if tomorrow is the day Russia tries something again, with an upcoming Ukrainian sci-fi film with the premise of “what if Ukraine repelled Russia successfully?”, I think I could understand what could put them in the headspace of being interested in Native Americans at their most endangered time.

But, that would rely on them doing things in good faith, which the article indicates they are not…

Still, they’re still developers from nearly the whole other side of the planet. How did they think they could make a respectful portrayal with little to no backlash with hiring copious consultation?

Oh right, that’d presume good faith, again.

Also, seriously, actually calling it a Karma system? They couldn’t find an appropriate analogue in all the indigenous cultures across North America they’re pulling into their gestalt?

This is an especially great article by the way.

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There was that whole GDC talk where Ben Esposito talked about realizing the original plan for Donut County (originally called “Kachina”, a Hopi term, and was an attempt to tackle the subject of settler colonialism) was something he shouldn’t be making, and scrapped the entire premise and made it about something else.

In the case of this game, I think it would literally be impossible for them to try to remove that element from the game. They would have to just give up the entire project. And based on what I’m reading, they wouldn’t seem open to that.

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Write what you know. If you don’t know, ask someone who does.

Or what I learned from that Donut County thread way back: better; encourage and support them to write it.

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That’s the thing, if the project i was on actually was legit, i’d never have been allowed near it. the dude coulda gathered that money and used it to fund naitive australian devs to make their own shit. but he didn’t and continues not to, instead hiring randos from texas to work on vital parts without any support or context. but he’s a scam artist and minorities wanna see themselves in stuff so that’s an ample market to exploit, and given what i hear it’s pretty common in australia to treat natives folks like money-pipes at best.

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Something I’m now also thinking about is how, when I’ve seen stories and art by Indigenous people in the Americas specifically about the act of colonization, I very rarely see it told in the setting of the American Frontier West. (I’m sure there are counterexamples; please educate me if you know of good ones!) Maybe it’s just because of the kinds of media I tend to engage with, but I feel like it’s far more likely to be science fiction. More often though I see stories about the modern state of settler colonialism.

It sorta seems like this kind of Revisionist Western angle of the story is something more interesting to people who are not living with the repercussions of those atrocities on a daily basis.

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This reminds me of that “Confederate” project from the Game of Thrones bros: a story they wanted to tell from people who quite clearly haven’t dealt with the things they want to talk about.

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