“Imagine a world inhabited by intelligent virtual humans that speak only your Indigenous language,” said Don Thornton, TMI’s Chief Executive Officer. To reach the game’s goals you must communicate with other characters that recognize not only your language but also your gestures and behavior. The game teaches languages in context and also cultural protocols based on character behaviors.
Thornton Media, Inc., the creative minds behind the RezWorld™ 3-D video game was the first company to offer customized hi-tech tools to revitalize Native languages. Since its launch in 1995, it has become the recognized leader in the industry. TMI, a Native-owned company with more than 100 tribal clients in the United States and Canada, has invested over six-figures into the game.
“The reason I am so aggressive about saving indigenous languages is because I am a Cherokee Nation citizen and the Cherokee language is in worse shape than ever,” Thornton said. About five years ago, there were 15,000 speakers, now there are only about 6,000. A Cherokee language department staff member recently remarked, “Some weeks we lose 100 speakers. Think about the language situation in 10 years.”