Phoebe Watson: How I Found Pride With My Culture Through Games.
Throughout my whole life growing up, I was always blessed to have my father teach me about my culture. He told me stories, taught me language and we participated in cultural dance together. Of all these things I enjoyed dancing the most. Although I had access to my culture, it wasn’t something that I was particularly proud of. I had a very difficult relationship with it; one I felt I couldn’t talk about or felt ashamed about. I was always told about the importance of my culture, how special it was and how vital it was that I learnt it so I could pass it on so it doesn’t become lost. Going through the typical trials and tribulations of a teenager, topped off with struggling in high school socially and a very strong emo “phase”, I avoided my culture. I couldn’t pronounce the language words when I would try to learn. I still can’t roll my r’s…
It wasn’t until 2019 that I began to really find a connection to culture. Prior to beginning my bachelor’s degree in Game Design at RMIT I was doing some work as a cultural mentor to young girls. I was starting to really see and appreciate how culture was helping them through some difficult times in their life. They were fully embracing it and were always so excited. During my studies I was lucky to find some work for DragonBear Studios, who were really passionate about incorporating Indigenous culture into a video game! This was something that had crossed my mind once before a few years earlier but it wasn’t something I envisioned being apart of or seeing it come to fruition.
Since working with DragonBear Studios I have grown in so many ways, but in particular my pride for my culture has blossomed. Speaking with elders about what we can achieve through games for our culture is always so moving. Their excitement and support, it was super motivating. Creatively working with the team and implementing the culture every day and seeing it evolve and take shape is amazing. When I reflect on how we are increasing representation of Aboriginal peoples, and preserving culture in a fun and interactive way, I feel like I am finally helping to uphold that passing of knowledge that was done for thousands of years by my ancestors. We are helping kids to see themselves in games, giving them an opportunity to share their culture with their friends in an interactive environment. We are providing a space for non-indigenous people to experience our culture and a place for Indigenous people who may not have had much or any access to their culture a place to start their journey. Just by embedding some knowledge into a video game there are so many benefits. Also its super fun to play! I can say with confidence that I AM a proud woman from the Yarrer Gunditj clan of the Maar Nation.