A great story has the ability to move the audience in many ways.

At Upper One Games, we weave timeless, living stories into dynamic, engaging and fun games that encourage discovery and exploration. We are confident our products will excite, inspire and connect people throughout the world.

Launched by Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) in Anchorage, a tribal nonprofit organization 

serving Alaska Native and American Indian people in southcentral Alaska, Upper One Games, LLC was the first indigenous-owned video game company in the U.S.

Upper One Games is now a subsidary of E-Line Media of New York, a change that strengthens our collaborative partnership.

Upper One Games is pioneering an inclusive development process that matches world class game designers with members of Alaska Native communities to create unique games.

Never Alone (Kisima Inŋitchuŋa)

For the consumer gaming market, we are currently in development with a ground-breaking title, Never Alone (Kisima Inŋitchuŋa)—a beautifully illustrated puzzle-adventure game depicting a young Iñupiaq protagonist and her arctic fox companion.

The pair embarks on a series of challenges and adventures during
a quest throughout the Arctic and beyond.

A unique partnership between members of the Alaska Native community and acclaimed game developers preserved cultural authenticity during the game development process. 

The game narrative is inspired by the rich culture and folklore of the Iñupiat people of the Arctic and will be in Iñupiaq with English subtitles.

Never Alone (Kisima Inŋitchuŋa) will be released to a global gaming market this fall through download for consoles and PCs.

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Upper One Games is pioneering a new way to make games that celebrate culture. 

At Upper One Games our mission is to weave timeless, living stories into dynamic, fun and engaging games that encourage discovery and exploration.

Launched by Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) in Anchorage, Alaska,  Upper One Games began as a collaborative partnership between CITC and its publishing and development partner, E-Line Media of New York. Upper One Games recently became a subsidiary of E-Line Media.

A team of Alaska Native storytellers, artists, community members and top game developers assembled to create the company’s initial game aimed at the consumer market, Never Alone (Kisima Inŋitchuŋa), which is scheduled for release in fall, 2014. Upper One Games invites gamers to discover the unique and enduring cultural legacy of the Alaska Native people through gameplay that highlights the importance of interdependence, resilience, respect and accountability.

Gloria O’Neill is President and CEO of CITC. As part of a long-term sustainability plan to fund essential CITC programs serving the indigenous community, Ms. O’Neill and CITC's leadership team explored what it would take to form a game company that could promote Alaska Native values and culture while engaging youth around the world.

After a careful search, E-Line Media, a pioneering developer and publisher of game-based learning products and services, was identified and recruited as a partner. CITC and E-Line Media then launched Upper One Games. In mid 2014 Upper One Games became a subsidiary of E-Line Media, further strengthening the collaboration of two companies with aligned values.
 

 

The Basics

FOUNDED
2012
 

LOCATION
Anchorage, Alaska
 

MISSION
Weaving timeless, living stories into dynamic, fun and engaging games that encourage discovery and exploration.
 

CONTACT

Gloria O’Neill
President & CEO
Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Inc.
goneill@citci.org
(907) 793-3278

Alan Gershenfeld
President 
E-Line Media
ag@elinemedia.com
(212) 534-3275
 

INAUGURAL PROJECT
Never Alone (Kisima Inŋitchuŋa), an emotionally stirring puzzle platform adventure game featuring on a young Iñupiaq girl’s struggle for survival in a harsh Arctic environment.
 

Questions +
Answers

What does the name “Upper One Games” refer to?

The name is a nod to Alaska’s status as the “Upper One” state above the Lower 48” states in the continental United States. As a for-profit subsidiary of Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) in Anchorage, our Alaska location is a key part of our identity. But our primary goal is to create compelling, innovative and impactful games for anyone to enjoy—so our connection to the “Lower 48” and gamers around the globe is very important. 
 

What is the relationship with Cook Inlet Tribal Council?

Upper One Games is an initiative launched by Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) in Anchorage, a tribal nonprofit organization serving indigenous peoples of southcentral Alaska, and its publishing and development partner, E-Line Media of New York, a pioneering developer of game-based learning products. Upper One Games is a property of CITC Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), the for-profit subsidiary of the CITC. Upper One Games shares executive and support staff with CITC. Dividends from Upper One Games will flow back to CITC to help fund programs and services in education, workforce development and support services benefiting Alaska Native and American Indian people residing in Alaska’s largest urban area.


How and why was Upper One Games formed?

Upper One Games was formed to create highly engaging digital game experiences while sharing the rich traditions of Alaska Native culture and values with the world at large. With a mission to create a financially successful global gaming brand, Upper One Games will contribute revenue toward CITC programs and services, as well as promote game design and development as a viable industry and career path in Alaska. Upper One Games was formed in 2012 and publicly announced at the 10th Annual Games For Change Festival in New York in June, 2013.

What is the relationship with E-Line?

E-Line has an ownership stake in Upper One Games and oversees all game development in conjunction with CEI. Likewise, CEI has an ownership stake in E-Line, which helps insure alignment of interests. E-Line Media is a pioneering developer and publisher of game-based learning products and services that engage, educate and empower. E-Line partners with foundations, academics, nonprofits and government agencies to develop and publish games for learning and health and social impact. E-Line has a long history of success within the digital games market, and CITC, E-Line and Upper One Games enjoy a true alignment of values and vision.


What is the main goal of Upper One Games?

To create profitable, fun, engaging games while supporting the core value of self-determination for Alaska Native people through increased financial independence. Alaska Native values align with universal theme and therefor have relevance worldwide. 

You mention Upper One Games is the first indigenous-owned and operated digital game developer; why is this important?

Being the first indigenous-owned game developer brings multiple benefits. First, Upper One Games will help share Alaska Native culture while contributing to the digital games medium. Upper One Games taps into the storytelling abilities and cultural heritage of the Alaska Native people in an authentic manner, giving us the ability to share Alaska Native philosophy and values with the world. Finally, indigenous ownership allows the benefits of financial success return to CITC and the community it serves.


Who is the target audience for Upper One Games?

Everyone! The themes of the core values of interdependence, resilience, accountability and respect in Alaska Native culture are universal—we are creating games to engage the modern global gaming audience.

Will the Upper One Games titles focus on the Alaska Native heritage?

Games will reflect many different themes, including Alaska Native heritage. Games in our education portfolio may not directly reference our specific culture, but they are based on a foundation of our core values, which we see as having a broad affinity to a larger audience. All games will be built with the pillars of interdependence, resilience, accountability and respect as touchstones. Educational games will focus on the experiential style of learning that is integral to Alaska Native culture.


How will Alaska Native values and storytelling be incorporated into Upper One Games projects?

Whether they are of Alaska Native heritage or not, everyone involved with game development is committed to respecting the community’s values and stories. Members of the community also have a public voice and offer feedback on Upper One Games initiatives throughout the process.


What benefit will the Alaska Native people get from Upper One Games?

Upper One Games will give Alaska Native people an opportunity to share their vibrant cultures with a global audience. We hope to show the diversity of Alaska Native people beyond stereotypes, while offering outsiders a chance to experience our values, philosophy and sense of fun. It’s important to note, the success of Upper One Games ensures financial benefits return to CITC-administered programs serving Alaska Native people.


What platforms will Upper One Games support?

Upper One Games will support all relevant and recent platforms based on the specific product and target audience.

The buzz

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March 21, 2014

Upper One Games and E-Line Media are using video games to help preserve lore of Alaska Native people.

Read full article.

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How one woman, tired of seeing derogatory Native American cliches, decided to make games about her people.

Polygon, August 21, 2013

Gloria O'Neill talks about the cliches that we've all seen, and has resolved to make changes. 

Read full article.

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Mind Games

Scientific American, February 2013

Video games could transform education. But first game designers, teachers and parents have to move beyond both hype and fear.

Read full article.

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The Future of Video Games is also the Future of Storytelling

Forbes, June 24, 2013

Upper One Games aims to make meaningful and scalable social impact by creating world-class games infused with Alaska Native values and culture.

Read full article.

Our Leadership


Meet our Leadership Team 

Gloria O’Neill
President and CEO

Amy Fredeen
Chief Financial Officer

Pita Benz
Chief Operating Officer 


Meet our Partners

Michael Angst

Alan Gershenfeld

Meet our Board Members 

Gloria O’Neill, President and CEO
Upper One Games, LLC and Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Inc.
Anchorage, Alaska 

Patrick Marrs, Owner
Communications North
Seward, Alaska

Douglas Fifer, Owner
WineStyles
Anchorage, Alaska



Mark Kroloff, Entrepreneur, Investor
First Alaskan Capital Partners Anchorage, Alaska

Amy Fredeen, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Upper One Games and Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Inc.
Anchorage, Alaska 

Michael Angst, Chairman and CEO, E-Line Ventures, LLC.
New York, New York

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Gloria O’Neill
President and CEO

In her role as President and CEO of Upper One Games, Gloria O’Neill oversees the first indigenous-owned video game developer and publisher in the United States. She helped found Upper One Games in 2012 to create highly engaging digital game experiences while generating revenue to fund tribal programs. An important secondary mission for establishing the company is to share Alaska Native culture and values with the world at large. Ms. O’Neill also serves as President and CEO of Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC). She has served as CEO of CITC since 1998, leading the organization’s growth and establishing CITC as one of the major social service providers in Alaska. Under her leadership, CITC’s net assets have grown from $150,0000 in 1998, to its present level in excess of $28 million. In addition the annual budget expanded from $8 million to $42 million in 2013. CITC currently provides more than 50 essential programs serving more than 10,000 Alaska Native and American Indian people each year. Through rigorous attention to community-based results, Ms. O’Neill has established CITC’s national reputation as a leading innovator of effective and replicable approaches to overcoming disparities in education, employment, family preservation and substance dependency.

Amy Fredeen, CPA & CGMA 
Chief Financial Officer & Executive Vice President

In her role as Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Upper One Games, Ms. Fredeen oversees the fiscal and administrative functions of the first indigenous-owned video game developer and publisher in the United States. Ms. Fredeen brings an extensive knowledge of financial management and planning to her role as well as extensive experience in resources alignment to meet strategic objectives. Ms. Fredeen also serves as Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) and its for-profit subsidiary, CITC Enterprises Inc. (CEI). She has served as CFO of CITC since 2006. Under the guidance of the CEO, Ms. Fredeen grew the organization’s unrestricted cash by over 1000% in a six year period. This strategic growth and the careful stewardship of program funding has allowed CITC to take a leadership role in fiscal excellence and established the cash asset base that needed to seed CEI and Upper One Games.

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Pita Jelley Benz
Chief Operating Officer

Pita Jelley Benz serves as Chief Operating Officer of Upper One Games. She is responsible for directing business and entrepreneurial development for the company and implementation of all business strategies. In this role she oversees implementation of all facets of the company’s digital game initiative to develop and publish a portfolio of indigenous infused video games for global audiences. The initiative also includes developing programs to encourage Alaska Native Youth to pursue careers in game design, and fostering relationships that build capacity for an Alaska based industry in video game design and production.

Ms. Benz is Vice President of Social Enterprise for Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) and serves as Chief Operating Officer for its for-profit subsidiary CITC Enterprises, Inc. Ms. Benz joined CITC in January, 2011 after a muIti-faceted 30 year career in banking and finance where she had extensive experience developing relationships and negotiating complex financial transactions. At CITC she directs efforts to make investments in innovative social enterprises that incorporate market based solutions to social problems.

In her banking career Ms. Benz worked for 20 years at National Bank of Alaska in positions of increasing responsibility. She served as Vice President and Manager, Corporate Finance Department and commercial loan officer. When the bank was sold Ms. Benz moved to Cook Inlet Region, Inc., where she worked for two years as Director of Special Projects, working with the senior management team on analysis of investment opportunities throughout the United States. In 2002 she returned to banking for 8 years as Senior Vice President and Manager, Commercial Real Estate Group at Wells Fargo Bank. In that role she managed a staff specializing in providing commercial real estate financing throughout Alaska for a variety of commercial, industrial and residential projects. 

Ms. Benz has won several awards and honors for outstanding community service. She is an active volunteer in her Anchorage, Alaska community.

Ms. Benz graduated Magna Cum Laude from Dartmouth College with a degree in Philosophy and graduated with Honors from Pacific Coast Banking School at the University of Washington.

Michael Angst
Founder and CEO of E-Line Media

Michael Angst is Founder and CEO of E-Line Media, a publisher of digital entertainment that engages, educated and empowers, with a core focus on computer/video games. E-Line works with leading foundations, academics, non-profits and government agencies to harness the power of games for learning, health and social impact.

Prior to founding E-Line, Michael spent several years as a private equity investor with Bluefin Partners, where he focused on enterprises that convey services on a global basis by harnessing the collective strength of highly distributed, independently owned and operated businesses. His investments included Lason, a multi-national outsourcing company that delivered service through over 70 independently owned micro-franchises in India and China (employing over 10,000 people).

Prior to Bluefin Partners, Michael served as the President and Chief Operating Officer of National Healthcare Resources (NHR), a tech-enabled services provider in the insurance sector, where he supervised the growth of the company from an early stage to over $150MM in annual revenue and oversaw the acquisition and integration of over 15 private companies. Michael began his professional career with Salomon Brothers, where he worked for several years as a quantitative analyst developing trading analytics and supporting investment banking transactions.

Michael currently serves as the Chairman of FilmAid International, an international relief organization that has partnered with the United Nations refugee agency and leading global aid organizations to use the power of film and video to bring important information regarding health, security, and other issues to more than 1 million displaced people in places as diverse as Haiti, Kenya, Tanzania, Afghanistan, Macedonia, Thailand and the US Gulf Coast. Michael also serves on the Board of Governors of the We Are Family Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the vision of a “global family” by creating and supporting programs that inspire and educate the next generation about respect, diversity and cultural understanding.

Michael is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in computer science and electrical engineering. He also studied in the graduate film program at NYU, where he produced the award-winning short film work of Jim Taylor (Academy Award winning screenwriter of Sideways) and Keir Pearson (Academy Award nominated screenwriter of Hotel Rwanda). He has produced short films that tackle tough social issues ranging from mental disabilities to gender bias in Eastern cultures. As a theatre producer, Michael has helped mount several socially relevant works, including a New York production of The Investigation by Peter Weiss, which recounts emotional testimony from witnesses and survivors at the Frankfurt Auschwitz war trials.

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Alan Gershenfeld

Alan has spent the last twenty years at the intersection of entertainment, technology and social entrepreneurship. He is currently President and Co-Founder of E-Line Media, a publisher of digital entertainment that engages, educates and empowers – with a core focus on computer/video games. E-Line works with leading foundations, academics, non-profits and government agencies to harness the power of games for learning and social impact.

Prior to E-Line, Alan spent seven years as CEO and Co-Founder of netomat, a leader in mobile-web community solutions. As CEO, Alan helped to transform a network-based art project into a pioneering software company, raising funding from VCs, strategic investors (Motorola, WPP, Forbes), foundations (Rockefeller’s ProVenEx double bottom line fund) and securing clients and partnerships with leading technology and content providers such as Electronic Arts, Warner Brothers, Motorola and Miramax. netomat was selected as a Technology Pioneer at the 2007 World Economic Forum at Davos.

Before netomat, Alan spent six years at Activision, a global leader in entertainment software. He was a member of the executive management team that rebuilt Activision from bankruptcy into a profitable industry leader with more than a billion dollars in revenue. At Activision, Alan served as Senior Vice President of Activision Studios where he supervised all product development at the company’s Los Angeles studios. Titles released under Alan’s leadership include Civilization: Call to Power, Mechwarrior 2, Asteroids 3D, Muppet Treasure Island, Spycraft, Shanghai, Pitfall, Zork and Tony Hawk Skateboarding.

Before Activision, Alan spent nearly ten years in the film industry where he worked in development, production and post-production roles on numerous feature films and documentaries. As a writer, Alan was a film critic for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, co-author of Game Plan, a book about the computer and video game business published by St. Martin’s Press and has published articles on video games for learning and social impact in numerous publications including Scientific American, Education Week, Huffington Post, Slate and Knowledge Quest.

As a speaker, Alan has been a featured speaker at a wide variety of conferences throughout the world including South By South West, CES, E3, Games for Change, Game, Learning & Society, Sundance Film Festival, Game Developers Conference, CTIA, Teach For America, National Writers Workshop, LAX Conference, PC Forum, Game On Texas, SoCap, Serious Play, ICE/Toronto, MIT Fab Lab Conference India and Peru, Milia/Cannes, Serious Games Korea and the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland and Dalian, China. Alan has also led game design workshops throughout the works for students, teachers, parents and policy makers, including at the invitation of the White House for the 100 Presidential Math and Science Teachers Award Winners.

Alan is currently a Founding Industry Fellow at the Center for Games and Impact at ASU and serves on the Board of Directors of FilmAid International, a nonprofit that uses film and video to empower refugees throughout the world. Alan also serves on the Advisory Boards of PBS Kids New Media, Creative Capital, iCivics and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center For Educational Media and Research (Sesame Workshop). He is also on the Advisory Board and former Chairman of the Board of Games for Change.

For Fun

After clicking the shuffle button, click any square next to the open square to slide that piece into position.
Unscramble the puzzle and download a Never Alone Kisima Inŋitchuŋa desktop wallpaper.