INdigital space at ImagineNative offers a place for Indigenous digital creators to shine
'It asserts who we are as contemporary Indigenous people who are looking towards the future'
This year, ImagineNative's INdigital space, a showcase of Indigenous-made digital and interactive work, is accessible for free with the festival's shift online due to the pandemic.
"When it comes to Indigenous game and digital media creators, this is a space where they can make the kind of content that they've always wanted to see," said Melissa Johns, the digital interactive lead for ImagineNative.
Johns is Kanien'kehá:ka and French Canadian and is a digital media artist who specializes in VR.
Last year the INdigital space was located on the main floor of the TIFF Bell Lightbox theatre in Toronto. People could go and experience VR, play video games and check out interactive websites created by Indigenous folks.
Johns said there are preconceived notions that Indigenous people are a thing of the past that don't really exist anymore.
"The reality is we not only exist, we're here and we're making content — and it's not the kind of content that is expected of us from a settler perspective. What it is is content that we're creating that asserts our narrative sovereignty and it asserts who we are as contemporary Indigenous people who are looking towards the future."
This is Johns's first year in the digital and interactive lead role and she wanted to make it as accessible as possible without anyone having to be physically present.
"Even though we can't have the same kind of gathering, we still have these connections and we're able to reach people that we haven't been able to reach previously, like people who are across the world in their own Indigenous communities," she said.
She said as long as people have access to some kind of internet they can still take part in the event. All of the experiences are tailored to be viewed and played on phones, computers or tablets.
Night of Indigenous Devs
For the second year, the Night of Indigenous Devs will be a showcase for the work of Indigenous developers from across the world. The night is a chance for indie Indigenous developers to play their games on screen and talk about them and the experiences that led to their creation.
Métis game designer Meagan Byrne and her studio Achimostawinan Games will be hosting the event on Friday, Oct. 23.
"It's really a huge variety in terms of what's being represented and the way that things are being chosen to be represented," Byrne said.
She said she was inspired by Double Fine and iam8bit's Day of the Devs annual festival that showcases indie game developers.
This year there are five projects that are being showcased: four from North America, including Hawaii, and one from a Maori creator who lives in Australia.
"All we really wanted to do was just let Indigenous people who make games show their games and on a platform that doesn't ask them to perform in a particular way," said Byrne.