If the central argument to the idea of polygraphy is that every cultural production – from architecture to fashion to video game design – is a form of “written” communication, then every technological advancement has the capacity to create a revolution in how we spread information and tell stories. Yet while ideas about progress, of evolution, are always swirling around the discourse of new media, it’s also important to understand that the way we view sequential history, moving towards some abstract, unattainable end goal, is a specifically Western perspective grounded in the constraining model of literature, of written histories and linear fiction. We must not forget that outside of the literary tradition, pushed to the margins by politics and hegemonic cultural productions, exists a distinctly indigenous way of viewing the narratives through which all humans make meaning.
The ideas started indigenous futurism started as a cultural movement and yet provide an excellent frame for how “old” and “new” medias – indigenous oral storytelling and the immersive world of contemporary videogames – do not need to be viewed as incongruent, but rather both represent ways we can view narrative evolving beyond the “literary.” A project like this, examining only gaming projects with a uniquely-indigenous flair, is theoretically rich in that it points out the often-obscured connections between these seemingly-different media, but the larger aim in both new media and native studies of reframing our understanding of what writing is can be applicable far beyond. In games that don’t necessarily embrace forefronting native experience, sure, but also in the modes of discourse that we often write off as needing to be “literary” – novels, journalism, the visual arts, film, and even newer media we haven’t even conceptualized yet.
The internet, more than anything, outlines the way that a population used to linear storytelling in all their media – fact and fiction alike – can quickly come to embrace the radiant. Terms like “hyperlink” have moved from academic and technological jargon into the vernacular. And even the public’s growing literacy with video games - the development of which are often indebted to, if separate from, the internet – is indicative of a larger cultural shift in which the mode discourse is straying further and further from the written world. And while in some respects this could be a “hypertextual” revolution, a replacement of narrative with raw information extending infinitely in every direction, considering linear textuality the “old” and radiant textuality the “new” erases entire models of understanding that have long outside of the West. What drawing connections between game design and the indigenous oral tradition really represents, then, is a larger movement away from broadly categorizing technology’s effect on writing as “new” or “old” and instead embracing the ways these differences can lead formal to innovation in how we approach stories.