Elizabeth LaPensée

Date 4/22/21



Indigenous people have made and played games since time immemorial. Indigenous self-determination in game design continues to rise in games of all forms. Commercial game industry shows trends towards involving Indigenous people in roles such as cultural consultants, as meanwhile, Indigenous game developers working independently establish and sustain space for their games to be recognized through exhibitions and events. Whether AAA or indie, there are a myriad of games in which Indigenous cultures inform design. This talk offers insights into the trajectory of Indigenous games, from past to present to future, highlighting work from Turtle Island to Aotearoa.


Elizabeth LaPensée, Ph.D. is an award-winning designer, writer, artist, and researcher who creates and studies Indigenous-led media such as games and comics. She is Anishinaabe with family from Bay Mills, Métis, and Irish. She is an Assistant Professor of Media & Information and Writing, Rhetoric & American Cultures at Michigan State University and a 2018 Guggenheim Fellow. Most recently, she designed When Rivers Were Trails (2019), a 2D adventure game following a displaced Anishinaabe during allotment in the 1890’s, which won the Adaptation Award at IndieCade 2019. She designed and created art for Thunderbird Strike (2017), a lightning-searing side-scroller game which won Best Digital Media at imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival 2017.

-- As of 4/22/21