We get asked quite frequently why we chose to feature a young girl as the hero of Never Alone.
The team really wanted to create a strong, resourceful, smart, brave character who could be a great role model for girls. Great female characters have historically been woefully under-represented in video games and the team wanted to help change that – particularly since many have young daughters themselves.
Although the original Kunuuksaayuka story featured a young boy, instead of a girl, the change to Nuna has no impact on the story itself. Inupiaq stories are filled with boys and girls, men and women, and the gender of the characters is much less important than the wisdom and learning contained in the story.
However, the team wanted to make sure that any changes to the original were made in cooperation and consultation with the community so we worked directly with Minnie Gray, the daughter of Robert Nasruk Cleveland who was the Inupiaq storyteller first recorded telling the Kunuuksaayuka tale.
In Inupiaq culture, the storyteller who has been telling a story for the longest time is considered to “own” the story and other storytellers will refer to that person when telling “his or her” story – for example, another storyteller might start off by saying “This is Nasruk’s story” or “I heard this story from Nasruk.” before telling Kunuuksaayuka.
Minnie blessed the change from boy to girl and worked with the team to ensure that all the important elements of the Kunuuksaayuka story remained intact as it was adapted to meet the needs of a video game.