Back to the Drawing Board

This semester I’m taking an Independent Study on creating & understanding interactive narrative games. I’m going to be chronicling my journey through this course, from coming up with an idea to eventually creating a full-fledged interactive narrative.

In my last blog post, I talked about developing an idea for my game and working through the different parts of the story. My game would be an adaptation of the Native American story of an animal stealing fire for humans. More specifically, it would be an adaptation of the Karuk Tribe’s fire stories.

In a surprising turn of events, I was finally contacted by the Karuk Tribe, only to be told that they did not want me to adapt their story, and that my use of the story was in violation of the Tribe’s Intellectual Property.

Photo by asoggetti on Unsplash

I can’t help but be disappointed. I’ve spent the last few months developing this game and researching the Karuk tribe only to be told no. However, I also understand that the story doesn’t belong to me. It is absolutely their right to tell me that I can’t use their story.

This situation does bring up some interesting questions. When, if ever, is it appropriate to adapt a story from another culture?

Was I immediately in the wrong when I decided to use their story for my own use, even if it was for educational purposes?

How do games like Assassin’s Creed approach these questions of cultural appropriation? When is it okay to write about a different culture, and when does it cross the line into trying to claim ownership for something that isn’t yours?

More than anything, I would love to hear feedback on this situation as a whole, especially in regards to the game industry. Let me know what you think below.

Until then, it’s back to the drawing board for me. Time to move forward!