Young Indigenous men star in new game web series filmed in Central Australia

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Like many other young people across Australia and the world, Tevice Ronson, who goes by the name “Device”, grew up playing video games.

Device lives in the isolated community of Ltyentye Apurte, also known as Santa Teresa, about 80 kilometers southeast of Alice Springs.

He is one of the stars of a new community-produced video game web series called Checkpoint Ltyentye.

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Communicate with people remotely

A video game show featuring residents of a remote Indigenous community is not common in the Australian video game landscape.

Executive producer Joshua Tilmouth said the show capitalized on the growing popularity of video games during the pandemic.

The videos are posted online on Ltyentye Apurte TV, which is part of a community development program run by Catholic Care NT.

The team has created a handful of videos so far, playing and reviewing games like the 2018 reboot of God of War, the latest installment in the Mortal Kombat series, and VR sensation Beat Saber.

The show is filmed in a small takedown in the remote community.(ABC News: Michael Donnelly )

Checkpoint Ltyentye is filmed in the community’s “media center”, a small takedown equipped with a TV, computers for editing, and space for a console or device to play games on.

The actors take turns playing the game of the day – or together during multiplayer games – then talk about their experiences.

“Whatever games guys like to play, we’ll try to get them to play and give their feedback,” Mr Tilmouth said.

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Device Ronson said being in front of the camera was not something he was thrilled with initially, but said he became more comfortable as they filmed.

But playing games in the middle of the desert is not without its challenges.

A young man wearing a black hat and a hoodie.  Two young native men sit behind him and watch a television.
Joshua Tilmouth says the show has capitalized on an increase in people playing video games during the pandemic.(ABC News: Michael Donnelly)

“It’s hard to connect online, and that’s obviously a big part of gaming culture,” Mr. Tilmouth said.

“The internet connection isn’t always great here…so we didn’t do any of those episodes [yet].”

As the show explores what’s great about video games, while bringing people together in the community, cast members said they also want to promote a healthy balance.

“You know, encourage kids to have fun, to play games, but you also have to go to school,” Mr Tilmouth said.

A young aboriginal man in a black shirt looks at the camera.
Device Ronson says being on camera was daunting at first, but now he’s enjoying the experience.(ABC News: Michael Donnelly )

Indigenous representation in the game

The team hopes this will inspire other young indigenous people in the field of video games.

“We kind of hoped that it would give a little more representation…that there are young aboriginal people playing videos and they love it as much as anybody else,” Mr. Tilmouth Tilmouth.

He also hoped the show would encourage more Indigenous girls to get involved.

“It would be great to have girls from Ltyentye Apurte playing video games, maybe doing their own show one day.”

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