Tropical America is an online game that fuses the new world of video games to a compelling past through a journey to unravel the mysteries of the Americas. Your journey begins as the sole survivor of a terrible massacre - you must find four pieces of evidence to bring justice to the memory of your small village.
Developed in collaboration with Los Angeles artists, teachers, writers and high school students, the game features a bilingual, thematic gameplay, accompanied by an online database of educational resource materials, source texts and imagery.
Inspired by the similarly titled mural by David Alfaro Siqueiros- subsequently whitewashed in Los Angeles in 1932- Tropical America explores the causes and effects of the erasure of history. From the battles of Bolivar, to the single-crop economy of Cuba, the myth of El Dorado and the poems of Sor Juana de la Cruz, Tropical America reveals a forgotten terrain, the birthplace of contemporary cross-cultural life.
The story of Rufina Amaya, sole survivor of the 1981 massacre of El Mozote in El Salvador, becomes the contextual anchor for Tropical America, and the impetus from which the game begins. El Mozote symbolizes the silencing of one people's histories and the perseverance of its survivors to bring the events into the open.
The game was produced as part of a media literacy program working with
Title I high school students around issues of violence and games, funded
primarily by the Department of Education. Recognizing the impact of
electronic games, OnRamp Co-Directors Steven Metts and Jessica Irish
proposed that students collaborate with artists to conceptualize, develop
and produce an alternative video game. Metts and Irish brought in media
artist Juan Devis to help lead the project.