Playing in the Digital Qargi: Iñupiat Gaming and Online Competition in Kisima Inŋitchuŋa

Katherine Meloche


This article reads the online Iñupiat game Kisima Inŋitchuŋa (Never Alone) alongside traditional Inuit games. Games have been used to assert self-determination for Inuit communities for thousands of years and have continued to change to accommodate contemporary political and social needs. Games are tools to instill values and life-ways in camp-life and now articulate Inuit nationhood through international Arctic game competitions. The article argues argue that Never Alone reinterprets the values, experiences, and social structure of traditional Inuit competition for Iñupiaq communities by adapting a traditional story into an online puzzle-platform game. Through an online platform, the game reinterprets the community houses in which games are played into a digital form. This brings Iñupiat self-determination into broader conversation with Inuit interests throughout the Arctic. The paper discusses the relationship between Arctic games and changing definitions of Inuit sovereignty. It elaborates on the ways Never Alone engages with Inuit gaming protocols to rearticulate gaming values across the Northern circumpolar. Finally, the varying ways the game challenges Inuit and non-Inuit players will be discussed.


Inupiaq; Inuit; Self-determination; Adaptation

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Copyright (c) 2017 Katherine Meloche