Ezequiel Aleman, research assistant, along with Larysa Nadolny, Iowa State associate professor, presented “Latinx Games for Learning and Change” Friday at the Iowa State Conference on Race and Ethnicity (ISCORE).
The presentation focused not only on how video games use Latinx culture as entertainment, but how Latinx culture can use video games to educate, connect and promote values.
Aleman was inspired after participating in the One Laptop Per Child project, where he worked as a teacher of a marginalized community at the time and witnessed thousands of kids getting a computer for the first time in their lives. Two weeks after they got them, the kids figured out how to use them and install games in them.
“This is when I grew interested in using technology, not just as a form of entertainment, but as a form of critical expression,” Aleman said.
He said how games, depending on the type, can be violent and misogynistic, but they can also provide the opportunity to be much more than that. For example, they can be used to fight the stereotypes of Latinx representation in video games, like communities involved in warfare, characters portrayed as criminals, sombreros, mustaches and Day of the Dead-themed artifacts, etc.
“Mulaka” is a “3D action-adventure game based on the rich Indigenous culture of the Tarahumara,” according to the Nintendo website. For this game, the creators reached out to Tarahumara’s communities to learn about their culture. The main character is Latinx and the story is focused on the Indigenous ways of knowing.
Aleman believes in encouraging the youth to engage in gaming as participants of creation.