• Upcoming debut title from Victorian based studio, Drop Bear Bytes (Drop Bear Bytes)Source: Drop Bear Bytes
In a boost for representation within the industry, an Australian video game designer has hired Yorta Yorta and Ngarrindjeri man Cienan Muir to help with the development of their upcoming debut title.
Ryan Liddle

18 Jun 2021 - 8:22 AM  UPDATED 18 Jun 2021 - 8:27 AM

A new video game set in the Australian outback will take on a First Nations consultant to combat the often stereotypical representations of Indigenous people in the gaming world. 

The title, 'Broken Roads', by Torquay-based firm Drop Bear Bytes, is described as a cross between post-apocalyptic video game favourites 'Fallout' and 'Mad Max', and will feature authentic Australian locations and environments.

Yorta Yorta and Ngarrindjeri man, Cienan Muir has just taken on the role of ‘Narrative Consultant’, and says he’ll be providing an Indigenous perspective throughout its development.

“This is good opportunity to really have some impact and to make sure my voice is heard across everything from level design, location design, character design and the main story." he said. 

Muir, based in Naarm (Melbourne), is the creator of Indiginerd, an online space dedicated to Indigenous storytelling and the representation of Indigenous people within popular culture.

He says the portrayals of First Nations peoples within this space are often offensive or inaccurate. 

“A lot of the superficial representation we do see in games is exactly that: superficial... we know a lot of these characters can be problematic."

“A lot of the reputation on our mob were very much based on stereotypes, based on myths of our people, and frankly just weren’t relevant to our culture anymore.

"I’m really making sure that my impact and my voice is heard within this game.”

Racism in the gaming industry has made headlines in recent years.

In 2016, a gaming app called "Survival Island 3", which encouraged players to bludgeon Aborigines to death, caused outrage, and was pulled from online stores. 

After such instances, many have pointed to the overwhelmingly white make-up of the gaming industry, and indeed the tech industry at large. 

The outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in STEM subjects has shown a stubborn refusal to improve over the long term. 

A 2020 report titled Australia's STEM Workforce found that, while some improvements had been made in the decade to 2016, First Nations Australians were ten times less likely to have a STEM degree than their non-Indigenous counterparts. 

Muir believes there needs to be more pathways and encouragement for young people, starting in high school.

“There needs to be more STEM and STEAM opportunities.

"Gaming companies do have a platform that a lot of people follow and their actions are seen by a lot of people and I think a lot of people in our country are becoming aware of our diversity and I think that needs to be portrayed in the gaming industry”.

Take It Blak podcast - Episode 36 STEM with Bradley Moggridge

Join Rae Johnston in this episode of the Take It Blak podcast for your monthly hit of the latest STEM news and interviews.

What Twitter's "tip jar" feature means for creators, Rae speaks to Professor Corey Bradshaw about the new research into "Superhighways" used by our ancestors when this continent was known as Sauhl, and research from James Cook University tells us something new about passwords.

Then our special guest for this episode, Kamilaroi water scientist Bradley Moggridge, drops by to chat about his career, pathways for young mob and what's happening with our waterways.