Forget textbooks; Brazilian kids can now learn about one of the country’s indigenous peoples through a video game. The forthcoming Huni Kuĩ explores the history, culture, and myths of the indigenous Amazonian people known as the Kaxinawá (or Huni Kuin), who live in western Brazil and Peru.
The point of the game is to immerse yourself in the world of the Kaxinawá, experiencing the stories, lore, and rituals of the culture through different levels and tasks. You can play as one of two young twins, a hunter and an artisan, who move through a series of five levels to become a healer and a master of drawing, respectively.
The game was a collaborative process from the beginning. A University of São Paulo anthropologist worked with 45 people from Kaxiwaná villages to create the game, which took six months to research and three years to produce. People from 32 Kaxinawá villages designed the prototypes and created the sound effects and music, while shamans did all the narration.
“My original idea was that gamers and other stakeholders would gain a new perspective of the village, the indigenous world, and the myths,” anthropologist Guilherme Meneses told The Rio Times. “That the game would then help to debunk certain prejudices that continue to exist even today as there remains a lack of public information about the indigenous people.”
The Kaxinawá people are not the only indigenous culture trying to educate their neighbors about their history using the gaming world. Never Alone is a video game created by Alaskan Native storytellers to bring Iñupiat culture to the masses. By embedding people into the virtual world of indigenous societies, they can reach audiences that might not otherwise be moved to pick up a book or watch a documentary on the topic, giving them the brief opportunity to live life as a member of that culture.
The free desktop game launches in April. It will be available in Portuguese and the Kaxinawá language hatxã kuin, with English and Spanish subtitles.
All images via YouTube.