A key element in driving representation of all people from all walks of life in gaming is giving diverse cultures visibility on-screen. Latinx features and characters are prominent in popular games including “Red Dead Redemption,” “Tekken,” and “Overwatch.” However, the majority of games lack representation from Latinx communities.
Video game developers and writers from diverse backgrounds can enhance the industry by creating content that resonates with players spanning a variety of demographics. Today, we’re featuring two Latinx leaders in gaming, who have created content that represents their cultures through in-depth character development, complex storylines, and accurate landscape depictions.
Augusto Quijano, Drinkbox Studios Concept Lead
Augusto “Cuxo” Quijano is the Concept Lead of DrinkBox Studios, an independent game studio based in Toronto. Quijano was born in Mexico and moved to Toronto to study animation at Seneca College. He has been instrumental in creating Mexican-themed multiplayer Metroidvania action games, including “Guacamelee!” and “Guacamelee! 2.” In these exciting games, players control the luchador, Juan, exploring a hand-crafted world inspired by Mexican culture and folklore, while collecting character upgrades and overcoming adversaries in melee-style combat.
In conceptualizing his game design, Quijano wanted to illustrate his ancestry. The luchador seemed like the perfect character, as it embodies the vibrancy and strength of Mexico. He encourages game studios and industry leaders to flex their creativity, amplify their voices, and promote diversity in gaming by highlighting Latinx culture.
“When [all] else fails, we can always rely on empathy,” Quijano said. “If you truly see yourself in the skin of your character, if you really understand them, if you get how they see the world, then others will too.”
Edgar Serrano, Lienzo Co-Founder & Director
Edgar Serrano didn’t expect to be at the forefront of his country’s gaming industry before the age of 30. Now, he’s the co-founder and director of Lienzo, the first Mexican studio to publish a game on all three major consoles. Serrano and lead programmer Adolfo Rico kickstarted their careers through game development for museums and contracts for advergaming brands. They founded Lienzo in 2012, but it wasn’t until 2014 that the pair began developing the world that would become “Mulaka.”
In “Mulaka,” a 3D action-adventure game based on the indigenous culture of the Tarahumara, players explore landscapes of northern Mexico, while challenging giant scorpions and solving simple puzzles. Serrano was determined to stay true to his Chihuahua, Mexico roots, but experienced challenges with fundraising for game development.
“If something is Mexican-made, you automatically think it’s low-quality,” he explained on a PAX East panel. “So, all the creators in Mexico, based on that belief, they journey away from our roots and our surroundings. And that’s why you don’t see games from Mexico that look Mexican.”
Today, “Mulaka” is available on the Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One. Creating a culture preserved through oral history, Lienzo took great care in collaborating with Tarahumara elders to bring the world to life. Serrano is committed to leading Lienzo to make more video games that showcase the rich culture of Mexico, foster diversity in the industry, and empower other developers to bring their visions to life.