Video games are a powerful medium for storytelling and cultural expression. In games such as Assasin’s Creed, Overwatch, The Legend of Zelda, Life is Strange, The Sims, God of War, and many more, we get to learn about different worlds and languages as we learn more about the games themselves. This got me to wondering if there were any games inspired by our Filipino culture. Fueled by this curiosity, I scoured google to discover games that reflect the rich culture of the Philippines.
If you are into Philippine mythology, then Sinag is a perfect video game to play. Sinag was one of the grand winners of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) inaugural Computer Games Grant Program. A 1v1 game by Ranida Games, it explores a variety of Philippine mythological characters with different backstories that you learn about when you finish the character’s game section. You’ll also be able to explore popular and fictional locations in the Philippines that make up the game’s backdrop. These include Mayon Volcano, Smart Araneta Coliseum, Bathala Garden, Balete Drive, Maria Cristina Falls, Rice Terraces, Boracay, Binondo, Bohol, and Bathala Ruins.
There are also bits of information on Sinag’s loading screen, which is very educational in creating awareness about Philippine myths. One example is the Tikbalang, a creature of the Philippine underworld and known to be a trickster, toying with people and their senses to lead them astray. Some of the playable characters are Juan, Daragi (Tikbalang), Bathala, Anna Luna (White lady), Amon (Kapre), Bugan (Igorot male warrior), Tala (Igorot female warrior), Mara’t Clara (Mananaggal). Sinag is a fighting game that is both educational and entertaining, while showcasing the folklore of the Philippines. Sinag is available via the Google Play Store, App Store, and Steam.
Another game, Soup Pot, explores Filipino dishes. Players can learn to cook their favorite Filipino dishes, such as, liempo, lumpia, sinigang, pandesal, banana-que, kare-kare and many more. The game teaches players how to prepare specific dishes step-by-step, but the fun part is that players can also experiment to build creativity and uniqueness into their dishes. In addition to cooking, Soup Pot also features a platform called “cookbook” where players can discover new and different dishes, share their own cooking creations, and even host their own cooking shows. Soup Pot does not just entertain, players also learn more about Filipino cuisine. If you enjoy playing the Cooking Mama game, then you will also love this video game. Soup Pot was developed by Chikon Club, a Filipino game studio. It is currently available on XBOX series X/S and will be available on Steam.
Developed by Makiling InterArts, San Fernando, is a mystery game that showcases the beauty of the past through the art of Fernando Amorsolo. It is a choice-driven narrative that showcases the vibrant landscapes and the rural community of the town and the people. Players play as an anthropologist who is fueled by curiosity and determination to uncover the secrets of San Fernando in order to save the town before it completely disappears. This involves communicating with the townspeople and learning their lifestyle through diving into their culture. The game will be available on Steam, and based on its visuals and storyline, it looks exciting to play. Players can communicate with the people that Fernando Armosolo has painted in his painting. This will surely be interesting for players in different countries because they’ll be able to witness and learn more about the Filipinos and the Philippines.
Overall, video games that bring Filipino culture to life such as Sinag, Soup Pot, and San Fernando are an exciting development for the gaming industry. They can be considered valuable assets that can help people learn about Philippine culture, promote Filipino values, and showcase the beauty and diversity of the Philippines to the world. Games made by Filipinos can make an important contribution to the gaming discussion in Asia, showing that Filipino game developers are capable of creating high-quality games that are both culturally relevant and globally appealing.
Words by Alyssa Silva
Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE October 2023 Issue