Academic journal article Australian Aboriginal Studies

Reaching out to a Younger Generation Using a 3D Computer Game for Storytelling: Vincent Serico's Legacy

Academic journal article Australian Aboriginal Studies

Reaching out to a Younger Generation Using a 3D Computer Game for Storytelling: Vincent Serico's Legacy

Article excerpt

Abstract: Sadly, Vincent Serico (1949-2008), artist, activist and humanist, recently passed away. Born in southern Queensland in Wakka Wakka/Kabi Kabi Country (Carnarvon Gorge region) in 1949, Vincent was a member of the Stolen Generations. He was separated from his family by White administration at four years of age. He grew up on the Cherbourg Aboriginal Reserve in the 1950s, when the policies of segregation and assimilation were at their peak. Only returning to his Country in his early forties, Vincent started painting his stories and the stories that had been passed on to him about the region. These paintings manifest Vincent's sanctity for tradition, storytelling, language, spirit and beliefs. A team of researchers was honoured and fortunate to have worked closely with Vincent to develop a 3D simulation of his Country using a 3D computer game toolkit. Embedded in this simulation of his Country, in the locations that their stories speak to, are some of Vincent's important contemporary art works. They are accompanied by a narration of Vincent's oral history about the places, people and events depicted.

Vincent was deeply concerned about members of the younger generation around him 'losing their way' in modern times. In a similar vein, Brett Leavy (Kooma) sees the 3D game engine as an opportunity to engage the younger generation in its own cultural heritage in an activity that capitalises on a common pastime. Vincent was an enthusiastic advocate of this approach. Working in consultation with Vincent and the research team, CyberDreaming developed a simulation of Vincent's Country for young Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal persons from the Carnarvon Gorge region to explore Vincent's life stories of the region. The use of Vincent's contemporary paintings as storyboards provides a traditional medium for the local people to interactively re-engage with traditional values. Called Serico's World, it represents a legacy to his life's works, joys and regrets. Here we discuss the background to this project and Vincent's contribution.

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Traditional Australian Aboriginal culture is being constantly eroded by the apparent attractiveness of an alternative modern lifestyle. This is especially so for the younger generations, who are more interested in materialistic consumption and visual entertainments than actively engaging in their traditional cultural practices. Paradoxically, (1) these same materialistic, entertainment-oriented activities also provide a platform for re-engagement of traditional cultural heritage knowledge practices in the form of the three-dimensional computer game (3DCG). Originally funded by the Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Interaction Design (2004-07), a team of researchers from Queensland University of Technology, The University of Queensland and Silicon Graphics Inc., and Brett Leavy of CyberDreaming Australia, worked closely with some rural and urban Indigenous communities (Mitchell, Carnarvon Gorge and Sydney Cove among others) to develop the protocols, methodologies and a toolkit for these communities to record their cultural heritage knowledge for their own use and distribution. (2) Called the Digital Songlines (DSL) Project, it uses a 3DCG platform as a storytelling vehicle. (3) The 3DCG platform was chosen because it presented the opportunity to embed local oral histories in the 'Country' the stories refer to. The DSL project set out to explore how effectively the 3DCG could be used collaboratively to record, in a culturally sensitive manner, the regional stories of Aboriginal Elders, custodians and community leaders. It investigates how players, in a serious gaming sense, can experience Aboriginal cultural heritage in a high-fidelity fashion with seemingly culturally appropriate digital tools. The 3DCG was seen as a vehicle for self-directed, sensitive representation of Aboriginal knowledge practices embedded in a three-dimensional (3D) simulation of local Country. …

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