I often look at the various game awards and wish that my work might receive some kind of "important accolade". I guess it's just an ego thing, something that crosses the minds of most artists and designers. We want to be recognised, immortalised, remembered by the community of our peers. But sometimes a form of recognition comes from unexpected places.
You may be aware that I'm doing some research for my "Walkabout" game by engaging with local Aboriginal elders. Over the last couple of days, I visited out nation's capital, Canberra, with these elders and an unusual twist of fate occurred.
On the night that we stayed in Canberra, I was doing some drawing for a personal project. My artwork has been commented upon by various members of the elders, and I've been given pointers about how to ensure my recreations of aboriginal work are appropriate, culturally correct, and have even been given full permission to use certain symbolism in my work. I can't specifically state what those elements are, or how they are significant, but the fact that I've been given full permission to use their concepts and patterns is awesome.
But, when I was drawing up some scrollwork, for a ferret related project ...
This particular elder has a mother who is over 80 and may soon be passing away. He had decided a few years ago that he would make his mother a traditional possum-skin cloak (also here), and that she would be buried in it.
He asked if I'd be willing to help design it and illustrate on it.
This isn't just an award, and all those gaming aspirations I'd had regarding this project basically just fell away in that single request. This will be an integration into the deeper aspects of the culture, an engagement with things that I won't be able to write about except in veiled allegory and inference, but which will definitely form an underlying backstory to "Walkabout".
I don't need accolades from anyone else regarding this project now.
Now it's just a case of trying to do adequate justice to the people I've met and the lessons I'll have learned.
(As a side note, I have now contacted an Aboriginal elder from Canberra who is an incredible artist who may be willing to illustrate the front cover of the project for me.)