Imagining Indigenous Worlds with Unity – Sámi Game Jam
- Location: Utsjoki, Finland
- Date: June 5th-9th 2023
- Duration: 5 sessions of 5hrs each
- Instructors: Caeleigh Lightning, Bronson Jacque, Nancy Townsend, Vanessa Racine
After two long days of travel, we arrived in the village of Utsjoki in Sápmi where we met with Outi Laiti to organize/host a Sámi Game Jam for a group of youth! Sápmi is the traditional territory of the Sámi peoples, and is also called Lapland, which is the largest and most northern region of Finland. The Sámi live across Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia. Taking a rest day when we arrived, the team took a necessary break in the sauna. We also experienced midnight sun, where the sun does not set as midsummer is just around the corner.
Together, we taught youths how to use the game engine Unity, in our workshop titled Imagining Indigenous Worlds with Unity. Over the course of five intensive days, participants were tasked with creating a walking-simulator, in which the player can explore a world that is unique to their lived experience (or imaginative!). Unity is a cross-platform game engine developed by Unity Technologies and supports a variety of desktop, mobile, console and virtual reality platforms.
In two days, participants were able to build and sculpt terrain, customize trees and create streams! By day 5, participants were walking around beautiful landscapes, caves and fields either as little robots, an onion, or more immersively through a first-person perspective. At the end of the workshop, all of the games were showcased to the local community, where members were able to play and experience some of the games created. We were all immensely proud (and impressed!) of these young developers who were able to harness the power of Unity in such a short time.
Between workshops and rest, we also indulged in some of the local foods, such as Reindeer burgers and plates, leipäjuusto (Finnish squeaky cheese), seafood and our personal favorite: cloudberries.
Finally, the Skins Team got one last day to explore Utsjoki and the surrounding area. Our organizer in Finland, Outi, took us on a mini field trip to the coast of Norway, where we got to see the Arctic Ocean, and then to Áilegas, an important peak and landmark for the Sámi.
We are so grateful for the invitation from Utsjoki, the Sámi community and from our organizer, Outi Laiti. Nia:wen, Giitu!
Funded in part by: