Video Games As A Medium To Share History And Folklore

Video Games As A Medium To Share History And Folklore February 20, 2017

I think that video games are one of the ultimate art forms. I also think that video games present an opportunity for communicators of history and folklore to be really creative in our story telling. Video games are an interactive medium which communicators can use to tell vibrant stories and to create fantastic landscapes that players can interact with and learn from. And this really matters.

One of the possible settings of a video game inspired by Mexico's history. Image credit: Pixabay
One of the possible settings of a video game inspired by Mexico’s history. Image credit: Pixabay

Video Games And Latin American Folklore:

Video games are unique partially because they can reward people who play them. Other mediums cannot do that. In a video game if you defeat a boss you’ll be rewarded with the ability to continue onward and gain access to more content within the game itself. I think that’s really neat and when video games provide educational content it makes it so that more knowledge is a reward in and of itself. Cleverly crafted games can make education and knowledge rewards in their own rights and that’s incredible.

A video game based off of Latin American folklore can reward players with more knowledge of Latin-American folklore and history. Video games, if properly harnessed by Latin-American educators and story-tellers are a potent force that can help us remember our own mythic histories and beliefs. We are forgetting the tales our ancient ancestors told their family members and games can be the unexpected solution to this.

A brilliant game can draw its inspiration from our myths and legends. We could immerse ourselves in the early mythic history of the Mayans as we become members of the family of Hunahpu and Xbalanque the legendary twins who’d eventually defeat the lords of death themselves. We can explore the land that would one day be known as Puerto-Rico as we familiarize ourselves with the world we believe Taroo and Alida inhabited before their love would lead the very gods themselves to intervene.

Imagine if someone made a video game based around the remarkable world the Jivaro people believed in? Or the Incans? Or the Tehuelche? As someone with way more knowledge of these myths and folkloric tales than the average person in the United States I think that would be pretty remarkable. I think clashing with Noshtex would be incredible in a video game. I think surviving Unu Pachakuti and with it the wraith of Viracocha as one of the two chosen people to repopulate the world would be terrifying. And I think witnessing the worship of Nungui would show lots of Latin-Americans what non-Abrahamic religion and non-Abrahamic theism looks like.

We’ve explored and murdered our way through a fascinating vision of Greek mythology with Kratos in God Of War. We’ve witnessed a curious vision of Nordic folklore with Skarin in Viking: Battle For Asgard. In games like Nioh we see a world of dark fantasy infused with multiple elements of Japanese folklore. What I’m getting at here is that we’ve seen all of these games and many more with focuses on other types of myths, so why can’t we give myths and folklore from South and Central American Indigenous groups a chance? I would play the heck out of a video game based off of Indigenous myths, and Spanish myths.

Do you know how incredible it’d be to play a game where you are the Cadejo? Where we become the Sihuanaba? Or a stealth game where I could be a Pesanta? There is an incredible material here with all sorts of original ideas that have never been made into serious video games and we’re seeing it go untapped. We’re seeing it go unused and it deserves to be something that we harness to create fascinating and original content. Not just because it could result in a profit for the game developers ambitious enough to tap into it, but also because this if done well will immortalize these stories.

If I could:

If I could help write video games based off of Latin-American mythologies and Indigenous religions I would. If I could help video game creators make fascinating, living, worlds based off of the stories our ancestors told themselves to explain the seasons, to explain death, to inspire themselves, and more, I would. I would be excited to help video game creators who want to bring the stories we only vaguely remember to life.

It would wonderful to tell people about these gods, spirits, and monsters in a way that allows them to explore the worlds our ancestors believed in. It would be magical to do this. I just want video game makers to find the folklore of Latin-America as fascinating as I do. I want to believe this is because there aren’t many Latin-Americans in the video game industry but I know it’s more complex than that. I want to believe that the lack of interest in Latin-America’s history has some simple cause but I know it’s not that simple. I do think that minor factors in the lack of Latin-American inspired games are things that are simple such as a lack of both Latin-American and Indigenous voices in the gaming industry, but I know that it’s more complex than that. I know that there are undoubtedly Latin-Americans like myself in the gaming industry who do want to create games based off of Indigenous and Latin-American mythology and folklore. If I’m here and I’m as inspired by these tales and dream of them being interactive, alive, and in a sense immortal, there’s no way that there aren’t others like me out there in the gaming industry who want the same thing that I want but don’t know how to go about achieving it.

I don’t know where to go with this knowledge and with this passion so it’s stuck in my head. I don’t know who to talk to, or how to pitch a game idea to a company, or how to start my own video game company. I don’t have the knowledge necessary to move forward in any real way but I want to talk about this. I want to get you, the readers, to imagine this like I do.

I believe, like Alan Gershenfeld of E-Line Media, that people are hungry for new, powerful, and provocative ideas. I believe that there’s an audience waiting out there for video games inspired by our (“our” referring to Latin-American) myths, legends, history, beliefs, and our views. I believe that this audience has individuals both consciously and unconsciously aware of this lack of games made for us (and hopefully by us if it’s at all possible), who want to see this challenged and changed. And I believe that it’s time for someone to challenge this and begin trying to make video games based off of Latin-America and the civilizations and cultures that exist and that have existed in South and Central America. I want to advance forward with this but don’t know how. If you have any advice for me I’d love to hear it honestly. Right now I’m just stuck wanting to do something about what I feel like is a big problem for the gaming industry but I don’t know how.

I’d love to know what you think and if you think gaming ideas inspired by Latin-American stories, and history could sell well in the United States and English-speaking world.


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