Thunderbird Strike

Last updated
Thunderbird Strike
Developer(s) Elizabeth LaPensée
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, Android, iOS
Release 2017

Thunderbird Strike is a side-scrolling video game created by Elizabeth LaPensée. In this game the player controls Thunderbird, a legendary creature from the mythology of some North American indigenous peoples, which flies from the Alberta tar sands to the Great Lakes, and along the way attempts to destroy oil industry infrastructure and equipment while trying to revive dead wildlife. LaPensée says the game is a protest about pipeline construction on Indigenous land, while telling stories from her culture and encouraging players to take care of Turtle Island. [1] [2]

Side-scrolling video game video game genre

A side-scrolling game, side-scroller or 2D is a video game in which the gameplay action is viewed from a side-view camera angle, and the onscreen characters can generally only move to the left or right. These games make use of scrolling computer display technology. The move from single-screen or flip-screen graphics to scrolling graphics, during the golden age of video arcade games and during third-generation consoles, would prove to be a pivotal leap in game design, comparable to the move to 3D graphics during the fifth generation. Although side-scrolling games have been supplanted by 3D games, they continue to be produced, particularly for handheld devices or for digital-only releases.

Elizabeth LaPensée

Elizabeth LaPensée is a professor in the Department of Media and Information at Michigan State University. She is Anishinaabe, Métis, and Irish. She studies and creates video games, visual art, and digital media to help indigenous people confront and process intergenerational trauma.

Thunderbird (mythology) legendary creature in certain North American indigenous peoples history and culture

The thunderbird is a legendary creature in certain North American indigenous peoples' history and culture. It is considered a supernatural being of power and strength. It is especially important, and frequently depicted, in the art, songs and oral histories of many Pacific Northwest Coast cultures, but is also found in various forms among some peoples of the American Southwest, East Coast of the United States, Great Lakes, and Great Plains.


The games is available for Microsoft Windows, Android and iOS. [3]

Microsoft Windows is a group of several graphical operating system families, all of which are developed, marketed, and sold by Microsoft. Each family caters to a certain sector of the computing industry. Active Windows families include Windows NT and Windows Embedded; these may encompass subfamilies, e.g. Windows Embedded Compact or Windows Server. Defunct Windows families include Windows 9x, Windows Mobile and Windows Phone.

Android (operating system) Free and open-source operating system for mobile devices, developed by Google

Android is a mobile operating system developed by Google. It is based on a modified version of the Linux kernel and other open source software, and is designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. In addition, Google has further developed Android TV for televisions, Android Auto for cars, and Wear OS for wrist watches, each with a specialized user interface. Variants of Android are also used on game consoles, digital cameras, PCs and other electronics.

iOS mobile operating system by Apple

iOS is a mobile operating system created and developed by Apple Inc. exclusively for its hardware. It is the operating system that presently powers many of the company's mobile devices, including the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. It is the second most popular mobile operating system globally after Android.


The game won the Best Digital Media Work award at the 2017 imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. [1]

The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is the world's largest Indigenous film and media arts festival, held annually in Toronto in the month of October. The festival focuses on the film, video, radio, and new media work of Indigenous, Aboriginal and First Peoples from around the world. The festival includes screenings, parties, panel discussions, and cultural events.

It was criticised by the pipe-line advocacy group Energy Buiders as having been designed to encourage eco-terrorism. [4] The game had received funding from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, [5] and Minnesota state senator David Osmek called for an investigation into the $4,000 funding. [6]

Eco-terrorism is an act of violence committed in support of ecological or environmental causes, against people or property.

David Osmek American politician

David Joseph Osmek is a Minnesota politician and member of the Minnesota Senate. A member of the Republican Party of Minnesota, he represents District 33 in the western Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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  1. 1 2 "Thunderbird Strike: Controversial video game takes aim at oil industry". CBC: Unreserved. CBC Radio. November 5, 2017. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  2. Dubé, Jacob (5 December 2017). "This Game Developer Wants to Create Space for Indigenous Stories". Motherboard. Vice . Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  3. "About". Thunderbird Strike. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  4. "Michigan State Univ. Prof Uses School's Taxpayer-Funded Lab to Create & Launch Video Game to Blow Up Pipelines and Block Energy Infrastructure". Energy Buiders. October 25, 2017. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  5. Racine, Eliza (November 11, 2017). "Anti-Pipeline Video Game Accused of Encouraging Terrorism • Lakota People's Law Project". Lakota People's Law Project. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  6. Natividad, Sidlangan (1 Nov 2017). "'Thunderbird Strike' news: Developer draws ire from politician after making game about resisting oil pipelines". Christian Today . Retrieved 5 March 2018.