The Rio Times

New Game Explores Indigenous Culture in Brazil’s Amazon

The Kaxinawá people, an indigenous people in Brazil and Peru, helped to create a new computer game that serves to preserve, explore and disseminate information about their culture and history.

By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A new computer game developed and created in Brazil, will explore the culture and history of the Kaxinawá people, an indigenous group in the Amazon forest of Brazil and Peru. Scheduled for release in April, the game entitled, Huni Kuin: os Caminhos da Jiboia (Huni Kuin: The Way of the Jiboia/Snake) was developed by anthropologists, visual programmers, designers and members of Kaxinawá or “huni kuin,” the name they use to refer to themselves which means ‘real person.’

For gameplay, players can choose one of two Kaxinawá children to lead through a series of challenges. The pair are twins, who according to the game’s narrative, were created by the anaconda Yube in dreams.

Having inherited the snake’s special powers, the pair, a young hunter and an artisan, will work their way through five phases of the platform game, overcoming obstacles and gaining skills to become, respectively, a healer (Mukaya) and a master of drawing (kene).

Throughout the game, the two protagonists will face challenges that will help them to learn about their ancestors, the animals, plants, and spirits of the forest (yuxibu).

“We created the script and stories with them [the indigenous community],” Guilherme Meneses, creator of the project and an anthropologist at the University of São Paulo (USP), told Agência Brasil. “They designed the prototypes, recorded music and sound effects. Shamans narrated the stories.”

Approximately 45 Kaxinawás from 32 villages located in the Brazilian state of Acre participated in the project, which included six months of research. It then took nearly three years to complete the game.

“My original idea,” said Meneses, “was that gamers and other stakeholders would gain a new perspective of the village, the indigenous world, and the myths. 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.”

Following the initial release during the first week of April to the members of the Kaxinawá community who participated in the project, on April 16th, Huni Kuin: os Caminhos da Jiboia will be available to the public to download for free. The game will work on both PC and Mac platforms and in addition to Portuguese and hatxã kuin (a version of the Kaxinawá language), subtitles will be available in English and Spanish.

For more information, see the Huni Kuĩ, Yube Baitana (os caminhos da jiboia) website.