Mexico’s Tarahumara Tribe is Getting the Video Game Treatment

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Nowadays, the gaming industry can feel a little diluted, with limited options for the types of game genres available. Shooters and FIFA are what dominate home consoles, and like anything in life, too much of the same makes you go looking for that side piece. And so I did, on the internets. Which is how I discovered the Kickstarter page for an intriguing new game out of Mexico called Mulaka.

Normally, video games seeking crowdfunding are too 8-bit retro for my taste. But there’s something special about Mulaka. The game aims to bring the ancient, mythical lore of Mexico’s Rarámuri people – also known as the Tarahumara – into the digital world, through an immersive, 3D combat and puzzle environment set in the Sierra Tarahumara. The Tarahumara have long been famous for their legendary endurance – running long-distances barefoot for hours or even days. But even as outsiders have marveled at their running abilities, the Tarahumara live largely in isolated communities, where they remain largely ignored, and suffer endemic poverty and hunger. This has been the case for nearly a century.

Lienzo Studios, a small but visionary team of developers based in Chihuahua, (the Tarahumara’s home state), want to change this. “We believe games are a potential tool to change society for good,” they state on their Kickstarter page. “Through Mulaka, we intend to generate awareness, communion and respect for the Rarámuri culture.”

The gameplay follows a formula very similar to Nintendo’s Zelda series; exploring, puzzle solving and toe-to-toe battles against larger-than-life bosses.What makes this 3D, open-world quest unique is its promise to not sway from its source material. Players become a Tarahumara shaman named Mulaka, who must face the tribe’s deities and mythological creatures, both good and evil, as he develops his spiritual power. The artists at Lienzo pledge to replicate the mountain ranges, rivers, cascades and caverns of the Sierra Tarahumara region, and have developed the game entirely in the Tarahumara’s native language. It hopes to be an interactive Wikipedia of all things Rarámuri and pack in tons on mythology in just five hours of gameplay.

Rusiwari render
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It seems short on time, but if Lienzo delivers on their magical vision, it could be a very rewarding experience that educates a new generation of geeks about the mythos of a resilient community they may have never imagined.

There are nine days left to donate, so check out Mulaka’s Kickstarter for more info. Your support may not only bring the game to life, but also allow for the developers to give back – they have pledged to donate a portion of proceeds to modern day Rarámuri communities.