You are likely familiar with Minecraft: after all, it is only one of the biggest PC games of the century. Millions upon millions of people have allowed their imaginations run wild in the world of Minecraft, and as a result, we have witnessed a plethora of creativity hit the indie title. From entire cities to a 1:1 scale of the Enterprise from Star Trek to recreations of classic video game intros, the potential for creating anything in Minecraft is virtually limitless. In essence, Notch has proven how to release a successful indie title on your own by allowing players to purchase a beta copy and continue receiving every update thereafter for eternity; in short, players buy the beta, help the developer work out the bugs by playing in the game, and they continue receiving update after update long after the game has been officially released.
Many of you likely know this, but for those that do not, Minecraft was essentially created by one man: Markus “Notch” Persson. Notch hails from Sweden, and while his story is one of success, there are other indie developers that are not so lucky. One such developer is an indie game team called The Domaginarium, a team of developers located in El Salvador (located in a region that has become known as the “triangle of death”). In an interview with Gamesutra, creative director Sergio Rosa spoke about Notch and explained the dangers of creating games in El Salvador.
“He’s very open about [Minecraft sales],” said Rosa, speaking in regards to Notch, “here [in El Salvador] you have to keep a low profile. You can’t let everyone know you are one of the richest people in the country, unless you have a lot of security guards. Even talking to the media about any kind of success is ill-advised, and creating a game that involves gang wars isn’t a good idea, either. I wouldn’t want to mess with that. The gangs can be very sensitive,” said Rosa.
A country plagued by gang wars (and a country that has one of the highest murder rates in the entire world), El Salvador literally has no game developers to be found, making it incredibly difficult for indie developers to find support in their region, meaning a game on the caliber of Minecraft will likely never hail from El Salvador.
So what type of game is The Domaginarium creating? It’s called Enola, a horror/adventure game that involves players tracking down a serial killer that is torturing his victims:
“[With some of the violence here], everyone in this country goes, ‘It takes a really sick person to do that,’” said Rosa. “When people are found inside plastic bags without their heads or limbs, everyone says, ‘It takes a really sick person because it wasn’t enough to kill someone. The killer wanted to show us how brutal he was.’ So I came up with this idea of having brutal games, but not in the sense of you are the tough guy beating up everyone, rather you are the innocent guy seeing other guys doing all this bad stuff. From that change of perspective gameplay-wise, the way you react to the world will hopefully be different.”
In a sense, Enola is inspired by the very nature of the environment The Domaginarium live in, and if they had lived anywhere other than El Salvador, they likely wouldn’t be able to make a game as brutally honest as Enola. Because violence and danger is around every corner in El Salvador (and because their very lives could be at stake), Enola is a true testament to the intensity of El the country inside the “triangle of death.”
Rosa ended the interview by stating that by having the antagonist be an actually, terrifying human instead of the undead or another “unbelievable” enemy, it creates a realistic yet unsettling experience, especially since, “people can do very bad things, and you can see that in many places, including El Salvador. That’s more scary, at least to me, than having a 10-foot monster chasing you.”