Dinkum and First Nations Erasure

Dinkum and the erasure of First Nations people in Australian video games

The first peoples exist. This is it. This is the one line that is unarguable, or indisputable. Indigenous peoples are ubiquitous in Australia, despite numerous attempts at genocide throughout history.

Although this is not a difficult concept to understand, many video games made and set in Australia fail to understand or exemplify this. Forza Horizon 3 Australia turned it into a racing stage, which is scandalous, considering the history of Aboriginal sacred sites that have been converted into race tracks or theme parks.

Borderlands: Before the sequel The moon represents Australia. Although it contains a lot of humorous dialogue that references Australia’s colonial history, it fails to give respect or acknowledgment of what happened to First Nations peoples as a result.

Ty Tasmanian tiger It is a game that succeeds in some ways and falls short in others. Although it falls into the trappings of being a colonial video game, and customizing aspects of Aboriginal cultures in its gameplay elements, it at least makes reference to First Peoples mythology, Dreamtime – albeit with simplified respect.

The last game that spectacularly failed to represent First Nations is DENCOMfrom solo developer James Bendon.

DENCOMwhich is currently an Early Access game, offers an experience similar to Stardu Valley And the animal crossing, A tribute to both in design. All while filming in a fantastical and horrible version of Australia.

So what do you do at Dinkum? Well, it can be summed up in one word:


If you set out on this land inhabited by Kangaroo, Emu, and Crocodiles, you are expected to tame the land by learning how to farm, hunt, and work to build a settlement. But don’t worry, there’s no one else here – so you can claim it in full. However, on the leveled land, you will eventually find remnants of the past that indicate the post-apocalyptic nature of the game. You can look up things from ‘modern Australia’, but that presents a bigger problem to me: the only artifacts from the past are from Colonial Australia without reference to First Nations people? Are you also suggesting that the world’s longest-lived culture cannot survive a capitalist catastrophe? Everything seems so wrong.

in the foreground, DENCOM Present’common earth“.

Terra nullius means “no one’s land” and was a term used by the British to justify the colonization and settlement of what became known as Australia.

Terra Nullius was not only used as a justification for colonization, but also justified the beginning of the British more than 200 years of genocide: hunting parties were organized to hunt and kill the natives; massacres were officially recorded and carried out; stole children; Slavery and Lakberg were prevalent. These are just some of the reasons why even a file suggestion Or Terra Nullius is a big deal.

DENCOM It starts with this. This imaginary view of Australia is empty, it belongs to no one, and you are free to settle for it.

newly Twitter thread by @alex_verdant Bring a lot of eyes to trouble in DENCOM. In particular, they noticed some very annoying dialogue, and provided screenshots.

DENCOM He makes jokes about children’s trade in cutlery. Now, it was @alex_verdant’s Twitter thread that prompted me to play the game myself and investigate, however, when I personally came to the same scene, it was as if this dialogue had silently changed:

Dinkum screenshot, I changed the dialogue about children's trade in cutlery
Photo: Nish Richie

But writing a joke like this in the first place indicates ignorance of First Nations peoples and their history at best, and malicious intent at worst.

Here’s why: Australia’s First Nations people have suffered multiple genocide attempts, with one attempt known as the “Stolen Generation”.

The term “stolen generation” refers to Aboriginal children who were removed from their families during the early 1900s until roughly the late 1970s. These children were turned away because they were considered to be of mixed race – born of one Aboriginal parent and one non-Indigenous parent. As such, they were considered candidates capable of ‘integration’ into Anglo-Australian society.

This assimilation was an initiative to essentially enslave children, forcing them to ‘blacken’ over generations. attempted genocide. As part of this, many Aboriginal children were also exchanged between the colonists for various things – including household goods.

In any other game, the line of dialogue about kids swapping cutlery might sound like a light joke. but with a lot of DENCOM This line is clearly rooted in Australian landscapes and culture, but this line is anything but. It is strangely specific and very painful. It may come from a place of ignorance, but that doesn’t make it any better.

While investigating the development of this game, I found out that people were asking Bendon if he DENCOM He has a First Nations representation, to which he replied, “I agree that having items from many indigenous Australian cultures would only make the game better. I don’t identify as an Aboriginal Australian, so I thought it would be inappropriate to take items from their culture.”

Some might say that’s fair. But as a First Nations person, I challenge this response and make the following points for anyone who plays a game in Australia, or a game that refers to Australia.

  1. When creating a game in Australia, whether it’s a fictional version or not, you can’t erase First Nations peoples. They are the Or not peoples of australia, meaning It is an integral part of the history, culture and identity of the country. Erasing it perpetuates the lie of Terra Nullius.
  2. You cannot say that you felt it inappropriate to include things from First Nations cultures, Then make an inappropriate joke about child trafficking in the same game.
  3. Any game made on Australian soil – stolen land – can and should recognize First Nations peoplesimilar to how untitled goose game Refers to First Nations people in the credits. This is a simple gesture, but it goes a long way in terms of recognition and respect.
  4. Hire First Nations People as your video game consultants. yes. They exist. If the introduction involves fictional or non-fictional Australia, it is important to hire First Nations People as advisors. Budget for that in video game development. Being a solo developer is not an excuse to completely ignore the history of the country and the original guardians of the land.

Read: Bringing indigenous cultural experience to game development using broken roads

With that last point, let’s make it very clear:

First Nations people can and should be consulted in video games set in Australia. Not including the peoples, cultures and history of First Nations means colonizing the reality of what really happened in the history of this bloody country.

It is to perpetuate the legend of Terra Nullius.

It is to erase the peoples of the first nations.

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