Media Sandbox Michigan State University

Indigenous Language Games are launched by MSU Faculty

January 24th, 2017

Media and Information’s Elizabeth LaPensée and Jon Whiting paired up to create two new games called “Manoominike” and “Mikan” for the Duluth Children’s Museum in Minnesota. With the help of the museum and a committee of Anishinaabe community members, these games pinpoint specific teachings about the practice of ricing in Anishinaabemowin (Anishinaabe language). These games launched at the free Manoomin Exhibit Opening in Duluth  on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017.

“I’m blown away by seeing the Manoomin exhibit at the Duluth Children’s Museum, which will be up for several years complete, with the games Manoominike and Mikan in wiigiwaam,” said LaPensée.

thumbnail_manoominWith assistants of the committee and contributions from Ojibwemowning Digital Arts Studio, this collaboration involved design and art by Elizabeth LaPensée, programming by Tyler Coleman, and sound by Jon Whiting. The game, Manoominike (meaning “wild rice”) in Anishinaabemowin, gives users a motion-controlled experience that is surrounded by elements and imagery of modern ricing in a fabricated wigwam, a real-life look and feel. The second game called Mikan (meaning “find it”) is a mobile game that intends to pass on phrases about ricing in Anishinaabemowin such as jiimaan (meaning “canoe”).

mikanThe greatest challenge of all involved creating games that could be played in short experiences in a museum, while honoring the vastness of the ricing tradition,” said LaPensée.

The Manoomin exhibit and the Manoominike and Mikan games were made possible through support from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Legacy Fund and the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation’s Anishinaabe Fund.

“I’m grateful for input from the committee as well as community members who see what I hope to pass on through these games –the importance of ricing and sustainable harvesting practices directed at youth, the next generations, who will continue these teachings,” said LaPensée.

By Emmy Virkus

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Michigan State UniversityCollege of Communication Arts and Sciences

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