CITC Video Game, Never Alone, Receives Peabody Award
Never Alone follows a girl named Nuna and her Arctic fox companion as they overcome obstacles to discover the source of a blizzard.
A video game developed by Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) is a recipient of a 2022 Peabody Award for Digital and Interactive Storytelling.
New Prize for Traditional Tale
The Peabodys have been awarded since 1940 by the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia and have become one of the most prestigious prizes for storytelling in broadcasting. Last year, the categories expanded to include achievements in interactive media. The inaugural class includes “legacy” awards for past years, including the 2014 release Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna).
The video game is based on a traditional Iñupiaq story, Kunuuksaayuka, about a young person who fights a great blizzard that threatens the community’s survival. Never Alone was co-designed in collaboration with Alaska Native elders, storytellers, artists, writers, and cultural ambassadors.
CITC, a nonprofit branch of Cook Inlet Region Incorporated, produced the game through its for-profit subsidiary, Upper One Games, in cooperation with gaming company E-Line Media. CITC says it chose to invest in the video gaming space to create a transformative learning experience for players and add diverse voices not yet seen in video games.
Courage, Trust, and Leadership
Never Alone debuted the week of the 2014 Alaska Federation of Natives convention and launched worldwide shortly after, winning several Game of the Year honors.
“We are inspired by Never Alone’s Peabody Award. Making this game took courage, trust, and leadership from CITC’s board of directors,” says CITC President and CEO Gloria O’Neill. “It’s a story by Alaska Native people, and together we made it into a game for the world. Never Alone is about community and culture. It is about facing adversity together. It sends a message that through our ancestry and our relationships, we truly are never alone.”
The Peabody Awards honor excellence in storytelling that reflects social issues and emerging voices. “The works in this new category are fundamentally changing how we engage with storytelling, and therein changing us,” says Diana Williams, chairwoman of the new Peabody Interactive Board. “It’s imperative that we recognize the projects that have catalyzed and revolutionized how media is seen, understood, engaged with, and disseminated. We hope that honoring these legacy winners will continue to push forward our mission of supporting ambitious, groundbreaking creators who strive to make projects with stories that are not only entertaining but can also perhaps prompt visible, societal shifts.”
Never Alone has been downloaded an estimated 10 million times since its 2014 debut. A version launched on Nintendo’s Switch platform in early 2022.
Revenue from Never Alone helps fund CITC’s programs that support Alaska Native people through education, workforce development, family support, addiction and recovery, and justice services.
The Peabody Awards honored fifteen other recipients for Digital and Interactive Storytelling. Beyond video games, the legacy class spans crowdsourced filmmaking, the New York Times dialect quiz, YouTube journalism, and an interactive marketing campaign. Click here for the full list.
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