Video games are no stranger to issues of representation and cultural sensitivity. Indeed, several high-profile and big-budget blockbuster games in the past several years have drawn unwanted attention to themselves for allegedly insensitive cultural portrayals, from Far Cry 3‘s noble-savage narrative to Far Cry 4‘s completely clueless box art to Far Cry Primal‘s hasty use of generic “cavemen” (are you sensing a theme here?). Indigenous peoples and native cultures all over the world certainly make appearances in video games, but they’re often portrayed as objects for set dressing or as Macguffins to carry the plot forward.
One game coming out of Brazil seeks to change all of that. University of São Paulo anthropologist Guilherme Meneses has headed a project coming out of the university to create Huni Kuin: The Way of the Snake. Not only does the game focus on the indigenous Brazilian people known as the Kaxinawá, but members of the tribe have also worked closely with Meneses and his team throughout the development process.
Huni Kuin is a five-level platformer featuring two protagonists who are of the eponymous tribe – Huni Kuin is the name members of the Kaxinawá call themselves. Huni Kuin members helped out over the course of the three-year development process, including providing lore and information, narration, and music for the game.
The project is an effort to educate people as to the realities of indigenous peoples living in South America, and to dispel myths and rumors about what such peoples are like. According to Mashable, about 7,500 Kaxinawá currently live in Brazil, with another 2,400 located in Peru; the culture is just one of 240 indigenous peoples living in Brazil today.
Huni Kuin: The Way of the Snake will be available for download on PC and Mac beginning in April 2016.