The First Nations in cyberspace



Jason Edward Lewis, a researcher in the Department of Design and Computation Arts at Concordia University, is working on establishing an Aboriginal presence in cyberspace.

By providing First Nations artists and communities with new ways of using virtual environments and interactive games, he is hoping to transpose Aboriginal oral traditions to digital media, creating an Aboriginal outpost in the virtual world. His work has led to the development of new tools to help Aboriginal people to talk about their past and their present, and to project themselves into the future.

New tools will help Aboriginal people to talk about their past and their present, and to project themselves into the future.

For example, he co-directed a series of workshops called Skins, which combined Aboriginal stories and storytelling techniques with video game design. Each of the four workshops resulted in the creation of an original video game.

But the real progress resides in the development of a freely available written framework on the transfer of legends into new media technologies. Another project, TimeTraveller™, is a work of science fiction created in the Second Life virtual world environment in response to the frustration felt by Aboriginal people at their underrepresentation in the imaginary futures of popular science fiction.

TimeTraveller™ portrays a future that is firmly based on the traditions and contemporary reality of First Nations people. In addition to the productions mentioned above, this work has led to numerous scientific articles published in journals such as Journal of Game Design and Development Education and Journal of the Computer Human Interaction, and four book chapters in edited volumes.