Skins: Designing Games with First Nations Youth

Lameman, Beth Aileen; Lewis, Jason Edward
Journal of Game Design and Development Education

Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC) conducted the Skins Pilot workshop to explore a pedagogy that integrates North American Indigenous cultural frameworks into the design of digital games and virtual environments. Skins provides instruction in digital design, art, animation, audio, and programming within a context of Aboriginal stories and storytelling techniques. In the pilot workshop with Mohawk youth at the Kahnawake Survival School, students developed a digital game based on traditional stories from their community. Students were interested in integrating stories from their communities in digital games, respected but modified or expanded the stories where appropriate, and were capable of translating those stories through the complex means for developing a video game. Encouraged by these outcomes, AbTeC is adapting the Skins Pilot yearlong curriculum into Skins Intensive, a two-week intensive curriculum for a summer workshop that offers college credits through Concordia University. This paper describes the motivations behind revisions to the curriculum and considers possible advantages and disadvantages.