Re-writing histories of colonization in video games: the case of Elizabeth LaPensée

Main Article Content

Anna Nacher
Filip Jankowski


The article is aimed at presentation of the case study in video games creation by Indigenous auteur and designer, Elizabeth LaPensée, which at the same time demonstrates how video games can both mediatize the process of re-writing history and decolonize popular imagination. The analysis of LaPensée’s three games: Invaders, Thunderbird Strikes, and When the Rivers Were Trails to some extent follows her own strategies of self-identification as Anishinabee (Ojibwe). Drawing upon reconfiguration of the auteur theory and the framework of ludostylistics by Astrid Ensslin, we also strive to demonstrate how the notion of a singular author is in fact grounded in collective and collaborative qualities of indigenous digital culture, including digital game design.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

Jak cytować
Nacher , A., & Jankowski, F. (2021). Re-writing histories of colonization in video games: the case of Elizabeth LaPensée. Images. The International Journal of European Film, Performing Arts and Audiovisual Communication, 29(38), 123-141.
The Structure of Video Games
Biogramy autorów

Anna Nacher , Uniwersytet Jagielloński w Krakowie

Anna Nacher – dr hab. prof. Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego w Krakowie. Jej zainteresowania obejmują kulturę cyfrową, sztukę nowych mediów, badania nad dźwiękiem i literaturę elektroniczną. Autorka trzech książek w języku polskim (ostatnia: Media lokacyjne. Ukryte życie obrazów, 2016). Regularnie publikuje w czasopismach polskich i międzynarodowych („Kultura Współczesna”, „Czas Kultury”, „European Journal of Women’s Studies”, „Hyperrhiz”, „Electronic Book Review”, „communication +1”) oraz w pracach zbiorowych (ostatnia publikacja: ‘VR – the Culture of (Non) Participation? Reframing the Participative Edge of Virtual Reality’,w: Cultures of Participation: Arts, Digital Media and Cultural Institutions, 2019). W 2019 wykładała na kierunku Creative Digital Media w Winona State University jako Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence. Redaktorka naczelna„Przeglądu Kulturoznawczego”, redaktorka „Electronic Book Review”. Członkini Zarządu międzynarodowej organizacji Elecrtonic Literature Organization. Pełna lista publikacji: ORCID: 0000-0002-3192-2724.

Filip Jankowski, Wydział Zarządzania i Komunikacji Społecznej Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego w Krakowie

Filip Jankowski – mgr, doktorant na Wydziale Zarządzania i Komunikacji Społecznej UniwersytetuJagiellońskiego w Krakowie. Jego zainteresowania obejmują obecność kobiet w branży gier cyfrowych, a także historię francuskich gier cyfrowych. Przygotowuje rozprawę doktorską na temat intersekcjonalnego podejścia do gier cyfrowych i kategorii autora. Pisał do takich czasopism jak „Games and Culture”, „Game Studies” i „Kwartalnik Filmowy”. ORCID 0000-0001-5178-2549.


  1. Aarseth E., Playing research: methodological approaches to game analysis, [in:] Game Approaches/Spil-Veje. Papers from Spilforskning.Dk Conference, ed. B.K. Walther, Aalborg 2004, pp. 28–29, <>, accessed: 2.01.2021
  2. Barthes R., The death of the author, [in:] R. Barthes, Image, Music, Text, trans. S. Heath, London 1977, pp. 3–8.
  3. Bazile J., L’Histoire à traverser. Regards vidéoludiques sur l’histoire de la Martinique dans Mewilo et Freedom de Muriel Tramis, [in:] Chemins de Traverse en fiction.
  4. Colloque interdisciplinaire de jeunes chercheureuses, École normale supérieure (ENS), Paris 2017, pp. 177–190
  5. Bigelow B., On the road to cultural bias: A critique of The Oregon Trail CD-ROM, “Language Arts” 1997, vol. 74, no. 2, pp. 84–93
  6. Bogost I., Persuasive Games: The expressive power of video games, Cambridge 2007
  7. Bordwell D., Making Meaning: Inference and rhetoric in the interpretation of cinema, Cambridge – London 1989
  8. Brown L.B. (ed.), Two Spirit People: American Indian, lesbian women and gay men, New York 1997
  9. Brydon D., Re-writing The Tempest, “World Literature Written in English” 1984, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 75–88, DOI: 10.1080/17449858408588811
  10. CBC Radio, Thunderbird Strike: Controversial video game takes aim at oil industry, “CBC” 2017, November 3, <>, accessed: 1.01.2021
  11. CCS Working Group 2020, Week 2: Indigenous Programming (by J. Corbett, O. Laiti, J.E. Lewis, D. Temkin, available (upon login) at: <>, accessed: 28.12.2020
  12. Chang A.Y., Une Vie Bien Jouée/A Life Well Played: The cultural legacy of game designer Muriel Tramis, “Feminist Media Histories” 2020, no. 1, pp. 147–162. DOI: 10.1525/fmh.2020.6.1.147
  13. Consalvo M., Console video games and global corporations, “New Media & Society” 2006, no. 1, pp. 117–133, DOI: 10.1177/1461444806059921
  14. Dim Bulb Games, Where the Water Tastes Like Wine, Windows, Good Shepherd Entertainment, 2018
  15. Dunbar-Ortiz R., An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, Boston 2014
  16. Dyer-Witheford N., De Peuter G., Games of Empire: Global capitalism and video games, Minneapolis 2009
  17. Elias B. et al., Trauma and Suicide Behaviour Histories among a Canadian Indigenous Population: An empirical exploration of the potential role of Canada’s residential school system, “Social Science & Medicine” 2012, vol. 74, no. 10, pp. 1560–1569, DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.01.026
  18. Ensslin A., Literary Gaming, Cambridge – London 2014
  19. Eskelinen M., The gaming situation, “Game Studies” 2001, vol. 1, no. 1, <>, accessed: 1.01.2021
  20. Fellows M., Razack S., “The race to innocence: confronting hierarchical relations among women”, “Journal of Gender, Race & Justice”, 1998, vol. 1, pp. 335–352, <>, accessed: 3.01.2021
  21. Fernández-Vara C., Introduction to Game Analysis, New York – London 2015 Foucault M., Authorship: what is an author?†, “Screen” 1979, vol. 20, no. 1, pp. 13–34, DOI: 10.1093/screen/20.1.13
  22. Government of Canada, The Daily — Oil and Gas Extraction, 2017, “StatCan” 2018, September 24, <>, accessed: 2.01.2021
  23. Grace L., Space Invaders at 40: What the game says about the 1970s – and today, “The Independent” 2018, June 21, <>, accessed: 1.01.2021
  24. indianlandtenure, When Rivers Were Trails by Indianlandtenure,, accessed: March 8, 2020, <>, accessed: 1.01.2021
  25. Jacobs S.-E., Thomas W., Lang S. (eds.), Two-Spirit People: Native American Gender Identity, Sexuality, and Spirituality, Chicago 1997
  26. Jancer M., How you wound up playing The Oregon Trail in computer class, “Smithsonian Magazine” 2016, July 22, <>, accessed: 1.01.2021
  27. Jankowski F., “Méwilo” i „Freedom” Muriel Tramis jako pierwsze gry postkolonialne” [in:] Ksenologie, eds. K. Olkusz, K.M. Maj, Kraków 2018, pp. 473–485
  28. Jenkins H., Game design as narrative, “Computer” 2004, vol. 44, no. 53, pp. 118–130
  29. Juul J., Games telling stories? A brief note on games and narratives, “Game Studies” 2001, vol. 1, no. 1, <>, accessed: 1.01.2021
  30. Kijewska-Trembecka M., Québec i Québécois: ideologie dążeń niepodległościowych, Kraków 2007
  31. Konzack L., Computer game criticism: A method for computer game analysis, [in:] Video Games and Gaming Culture, ed. M.J.P. Wolf, New York – London 2016
  32. LaPensée E., Invaders, Linux, Survivance, 2015
  33. LaPensée E., Survivance: An Indigenous Social Impact Game, Burnaby 2014, <>, accessed: 3.01.2021
  34. LaPensée E., Thunderbird strike, [in:] Learning, Education & Games, vol. 3: 100
  35. Games to Use in the Classroom & Beyond, ed. K. Schrier, Pittsburgh 2019, pp. 447–453
  36. LaPensée E., When Rivers Were Trails, Linux, Indian Land Tenure Foundation, Michigan State University’s GEL Lab, 2019
  37. LaPensée E., Emmons N., Indigenizing education with the game When Rivers Were Trails, “Amerikastudien” 2019, vol. 64, no. 1, pp. 75–93, DOI: 10.33675/AMST/2019/1/8
  38. LaPensée E., Lewis J.E., Call it a vision quest: Machinima in a first nations context, [in:] Understanding Machinima: Essays on Filmmaking in Virtual Worlds, ed. J. Ng, New York – London 2013, pp. 187–206
  39. Laiti O., Ethnoprogramming: An Indigenous Approach to Computer Programming: A Case Study in Ohcejohka Area Comprehensive Schools, unpublished Master thesis, University of Lapland, 2016, <>, accessed: 2.01.2021
  40. Laplantine F., Nouss A., Le métissage: un exposé pour comprendre, un essai pour réfléchir, Paris 1997,>, accessed: 2.01.2021
  41. Lewis J.E., Arista N., Pechawis A., Kite S., Making Kin with the machines, “Journal of Design and Science” 2018, July 16, DOI: 10.21428/bfafd97b
  42. Lokting B., The long journey to reveal the Oregon trail’s racist history, “Narratively” 2017, October 11, <>, accessed: 1.01.2021
  43. Loomba A., Colonialism, Postcolonialism, London 1998
  44. Majkowski T., Języki gropowieści. Studia o różnojęzyczności gier cyfrowych, Kraków 2019
  45. Marino M.C., Critical Code Studies: Initial Methods, Cambridge 2020
  46. Mawhinney J.L., Giving Up the Ghost: Disrupting the (Re)Production of White Privilege in Anti-Racist Pedagogy and Organizational Change, unpublished Master thesis, University of Toronto, Toronto 1998, <>, accessed: 3.01.2021
  47. Miller J.R., Skyscrapers Hide the Heavens: A history of Indian–White relations in Canada, Toronto – Buffalo 2000
  48. Milloy J.S., McCallum M.J., A National Crime: The Canadian government and the residential school system, Winnipeg 2017
  49. Minnesota Senate Republicans, Sen. David Osmek: MN Taxpayers should not be funding angry birds for eco-terrorists, “Minnesota Senate Republicans” (blog), 2017, October 26, <>, accessed: 1.01.2021
  50. Mukherjee S., Video Games and Storytelling: Reading games and playing books, London 2015
  51. Mukherjee S., Videogames and Postcolonialism. New York 2017
  52. Nishikado T., Space Invaders, Arcade, Taito, 1978
  53. Powell Ch. Peristerakis J., Genocide in Canada: A relational view, [in:] Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America, eds. A.J. Woolford, J. Benvenuto, A.L. Hinton, Durham 2014, pp. 70–92
  54. Rawitsch D., Heinemann B., Dillenberger P., The Oregon Trail, Multiple platforms, MECC, 1971
  55. Ridon J.-X., Littérature-Monde, or redefining exotic literature?, [in:] Transnational French Studies: Postcolonialism and Littérature-Monde, eds. A.G. Hargreaves, C. Forsdick, D. Murphy, Liverpool 2010, pp. 195–208
  56. Sheppard M., Mayo J.B., New social learning from two spirit native Americans, “The Journal of Social Studies Research” 2012, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 263–282
  57. Sheppard M.,, Mayo J.B., The social construction of gender and sexuality: learning from two spirit traditions, “The Social Studies” 2013, vol. 104, no. 6, pp. 259–270, DOI: 10.1080/00377996.2013.788472
  58. Sicart M., Against procedurality, “Game Studies” 2011, vol. 11, no. 3, <>, accessed: 1.01.2021
  59. Slater K., Who gets to die of dysentery?: Ideology, geography, and The Oregon Trail, Children’s “Literature Association Quarterly” 2017, vol. 42, no. 4, pp. 374–395, DOI: 10.1353/chq.2017.0040
  60. Stannard D.E., American Holocaust: The conquest of the new world, New York 1993
  61. Staszenko, D., “Lollipop Chainsaw Goichiego Sudy i problem autorstwa w medium gier wideo,” Homo Ludens, 2015, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 153–162
  62. Strużyna A., Artystyczne gry Anny Anthropy, “Homo Ludens” 2014, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 187–198
  63. Šisler V., Digital Arabs: representation in video games, “European Journal of Cultural Studies” 2008, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 203–220, DOI: 10.1177/1367549407088333
  64. Toumson R., Mythologie du métissage, [in:] Francophonie et identités culturelles, ed. C. Albert, Paris 1999, pp. 241–246
  65. Tramis M., Chamoiseau P., Freedom, Amiga, Coktel Vision, 1988
  66. Tramis M., Chamoiseau P., Méwilo, Atari ST, Coktel Vision, 1987
  67. Trudel M., The Beginnings of New France, 1524–1663, Toronto 1973
  68. Tuck E., Wayne Yang K., Decolonization is not a metaphor, “Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society” 2012, vol. 1, <>, accessed: 3.01.2021
  69. Vazquez S., Where the water tastes like wine sells far below expectations, according to creator, “Game Informer” 2018, March 31, <>, accessed: 1.01.2021
  70. Vullierme J.-L., Miroir de l’Occident: Le nazisme et la civilisation occidentale, Paris 2014
  71. Wolfe P., Settler colonialism and the elimination of the native, “Journal of Genocide Research” 2006, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 387–409, DOI: 10.1080/14623520601056240
  72. Zimmerman E., “Eric Zimmerman’s Response.” Electronic Book Review (blog), August 1, 2004, <>, accessed: 1.01.2021