Celebrating Hispanic Culture In Gaming
With Cinco de Mayo upon us, here at Way Too Many Games we wanted to make a list of some standout video game characters that are steeped in the rich culture of Mexico. It was a bit eye opening to realize that Mexican culture hasn’t been shown in the most flattering of ways in a lot of games, mainly focusing on cartels, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some strong Mexican characters that we can celebrate. ¡Disfruta!
Red Dead Redemption
Red Dead Redemption is my first pick and mainly because I feel it had an accurate representation of the times. Half way through the game John Marston has to make his way over the border to Mexico to track down one of his ex gang members. Unlike many games that feature Mexico, there is a fair representation of good and bad characters just as there would be anywhere else. It’s this balance that Rockstar presents that I really appreciate with a diverse cast from the very beginning with Abraham Reyes who rides with Marston through a lot of the game. Once you get to Mexico there is Colonel Allende, Javier Escuella, Luisa Fortuna, Vincente de Santa and of course your multiplayer friend El Senor.
You can’t talk about popular Mexican characters without bringing up King from the Tekken series. King was actually the name of 2 separate characters within the series which were inspired by the pro wrestler Satoru Sayama, as well as Mexican wrestler Fray Tormenta, a Catholic priest who became a masked wrestler in order to support an orphanage.
The first King used to be a ruthless street brawling orphan with no care in the world except fighting. Coming close to death, King saw the error in his way and began a catholic priest whose one dream was to open an orphanage. Needing money he entered the first King of Iron Fist Tournament. Sometime later on, Ogre, the God of Fighting, was awakened from an ancient ruin in Mexico by Heihachi Mishima’s Tekken Force. Ogre attacked several martial artists around the world, including King, who was killed afterwards.
The second King was a street urchin who was brought up in the first King’s orphanage. But when King ended up dying the street urchin donned Kings famous mask and entered tournaments to earn money for the orphanage just like his mentor.
Olivia Colomar or more commonly known as Sambra is a Mexican hacker and infiltrator. While her back story technically had her working for the Los Muertos gang, which may not be the most respectable career path, it was to fight against a corrupt Mexican government.
Over the years her hacking expanded to other global corporations and powers, managing to keep her identity secret. She was eventually discovered by a mysterious organization that forced her into hiding, destroying all records of her existence. She augmented her body with cybernetic attachments to help her hack, and joined the criminal organization Talon to discover the identity of the organization that uncovered her.
Army of Two
Tyson Rios is one of the better Mexican characters that isn’t portrayed in a stereotypical way. He is just a bad ass Mexican-American character who still displays his cultural pride with tattoo’s on his body.
While Tyson himself is a strong representation, unfortunately the 3rd game in the series, Army of Two: Devil’s Cartel undermines the subtle yet strong heritage connections by featuring a more stereotypical setting of a Mexican cartel.
Mass Effect 3
James Vega makes his debut in Mass Effect 3 with an already established connection with commander Shepard. Unfortunately for him, by the time the 3rd game came around you more than likely already had your main characters connections and combat team.
He was still a great character if you used him and his story led to some good conversations and story moments. He was interesting to talk to, and a pretty good representation of a smart ass, good intentioned marine.
Gears of War
While technically the series doesn’t have a “Mexico”, but Dominic “Dom” Santiago obviously represents Hispanic culture and does a damn fine job. He often outshines the series main character because of his whit, and characteristics. He is a much deeper and often times more relatable character.
Dom also had some of the best and most heart wrenching moments in the Gears of War series. I’m pretty sure everyone got a little choked up when he finds his wife is Gears of War 2 and his heroic sacrifice in Gears of War 3.
It’s hard to talk about Mexican culture without bringing up Guacamelee! There isn’t just one character to focus on here because the entire game is brilliantly done. Now, a lot of this could be skewed as a stereotypical look at Mexican culture, but I feel it was a fantastic representation of the Mexican popular mythos and iconography. I absolutely loved seeing this side of Mexico’s heritage instead of another game focusing on a cartel. It also helps that the game is a fantastic metroidvania 2D platformer!
There are a good handful of Hispanic characters to choose from, but it’s strange there isn’t more games with a focus on Mexican culture. Did I forget one of your favorite characters? Let me know in the comments below.