We designed and prototyped a course that taught young people how to take a story from their community and translate it into a video game. The students wowed us with the game they made, called Otsi: Rise of the Kanien’keha:ka Legends. Otsi: won the Best New Media Award at imagineNative 2010.
Date: September 2008 to June 2009
Location: Kahnawake Survival School
The students drew on several stories from the Kahnawake community to create the narrative for Otsì:! about an Iroquois hunter is on a mission to stop a monster, the Flying Head, from destroying his village. The students designed an entire multi-level game that took players from the Flying Head’s origin story through to his confrontation with the hunter.
The game was implemented as a mod on the Unreal first-person shooter engine. The player takes the role of the hunter, and sees the world from his eyes. The player begins outside of a village that has been razed to the ground. The sole survivor tells him about the Flying Head and its attack on the village, and warns the player that it is now heading towards Hunter’s village.
The player has to then fight his way across a landscape based on the countryside around Kahanwake. Creatures from other Mohawk stories including the Hoof Lady, the Monkey Dog, and the Tree People interrupt the journey. Each of these creatures tells its own story; some assist him, some hinder him. The journey ends at the hunter’s village, which the Flying Head is attacking. The hunter must fight him off, which requires him to use the information he gathered from characters along the way.