Developers of "Thunderbird Strike" have struck a nerve with their video game, and an energy group has now labeled them as "eco-terrorists."
Indigenous video game developer Elizabeth LaPensée and company are now getting flak from oil lobbyists and a senator. Minnesota state senator David Osmek, with the help of some oil lobbyists, say the game is promoting eco-terrorism since the game features an indigenous Thunderbird that destroys creatures resembling oil pipelines and restores the natural environment.
Toby Mack, the president of the Energy Equipment & Infrastructure Alliance from Washington D.C. stated that "A video game that depicts that kind of activity has the potential to encourage or plant the idea that that's something somebody should do, that's our concern," hence the eco-terrorism allegations toward the indie developers. However, Mack himself has also stated that he has not played the game and instead based his inference on game reviews, screenshots, and the game's website.
Senator Osmek, in addition to Mack's sentiment, has stated that the game looks as if it was "programmed on a Commodore 64, circa 1985," and wondered where the funding LaPensée and company received was used. Osmek even went as far as to call for an investigation for the $4,000 which the developers received for the game, adding that "If there was any fraud committed, I am pretty sure we have some legal means to recover that money."
Apparently, the money LaPensée received was supposed to be used for Minnesota projects, as she is now based in Michigan University.
LaPensée, on the other hand, has stated that the money they used for the game was from a grant, specifically the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council Artist Fellowship Grant from Minnesota, and she also stated that the game was finished before she even moved to Michigan, suggesting that the project was indeed for Minnesota.
"Thunderbird Strike" is a side-scrolling video game where players control a mythical Thunderbird, a symbol in several Indigenous cultures, to fight off giant black serpent-like creatures in order to protect the environment. No actual destruction of oil pipelines occurs in the game, only cutscenes showing the advocacy of clean energy sources.
"Thunderbird Strike" is free to play and is available for download on the PC. It will arrive on iOS and Android devices in December.