Tropical America

[ Online narrative game ]

Tropical America fuses the new world of video games to a compelling past through a journey to unravel the mysteries of the Americas. 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. A collaboration with OnRamp Arts, 2002.

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. OnRamp Arts worked with local artists and students from Belmont High School to produce a series of projects, which culminated in Tropical America.

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.

Game archived on the Rhizome ArtBase:

Feature with Charles Osgood, CBS radio

A Project of OnRamp Arts © 2002

Project Funders:

This collaboration has been generously supported by the U.S. Department of Education in conjunction with the National Endownment for the Arts, and through the Arts in Education Partnership of the California Arts Council.
Belmont High School Student Participants:
Carlos Alvarez
Melissa Arevalo
Mel Arrozal
Rocio Astorga
Socorro Bautista
Zidartha Boquilla
Lisa Burgos
Rosa Calero
Carolina Cano
María Casique
Ana Castro
Suelem Alicia Chajón
Enrique Cueva
Serena Douzingriseth
Evelyn Fuentes
Dimas Galindo
Jaime Gamero
Rey De Gante
Maricela Gil
Maritza Gomez
Mercedes Gomez
Jacqueline Guevara
Elvis Guzman
Carlos Ernesto Jirón
Oscar Larrainzar
Dorothy Lazo
Guadalupe Lopez
Elvia Lopez
Luz Medrano
Maritza Mendoza
Jamie Molina
Mariely Molina
Isi Ramon
Irene Rodriguez
Michael Edgar Tordilla
Roxana Tzul
Jose Valle
Luis Valle
Luis Vasquez
Jose Villela
Stephen Metts

Juan Devis
Jessica Irish

Art Director:
Jessica Irish

Juan Devis

Graphic Artist:
Artemio Rodriguez

Production Associates:
Michelle Knutson
Gian Derivi-Castellanos

Sound Designers:

Database Programmer:
John Byrne

Flash Consultant:
Mark Carolin

Press Contact:
Kimberly King-Burns

Print Designer:
Eric Singley

Research Assistants:
Irene Rodriguez
Lisa Burgos

Outreach Intern:
Jose Torres

Teacher Coordinators:
Yolanda Salazar
Gary Kelly
Ron Melin
Belmont High School Travel and Tourism Academy

Visiting Artists:
Salomon Huerta
Norman Klein
Eddo Stern
Mario Bencastro
Yucef Mehri

Partnership Coordinator:
Barbara Golding
Los Angeles Educational Partnership

Organizational Partners:
Los Angeles Educational Partnership
LA Unified School District’s Belmont High School Travel and Tourism Program

Special Thanks: UCLA ArtsBridge Program, CARECEN, Dana Whitco, Anne Bray, Clara Ocampo, friends and supporters of OnRamp Arts. 
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