The Girl Who Sees
I am Filipino, Hawaiian and Japanese. For the longest time I felt alienated from most of my culture. Having grown up in a town where the population, at the time, was predominately Caucasian I didn’t have much experience to pull from. The most exposure I had to my Filipino roots had been with my step-father’s side of the family. Exposure usually came in the form of food and traditional savory dishes that they would cook for us. As kids we weren’t taught the language. Looking back I’m not entirely sure why. Was it because we didn’t ask? Did we not pay attention? Or was it something that just slipped our auntie’s and uncle’s minds? Surely, we heard enough of the bad words and picked up on those fairly quickly. Another point worth noting is that we were surrounded by a Catholic faith-based family. To hear any type of Filipino folklore growing up was uncommon. I’m not sure if my family is aware of these stories either. (I will have to ask at the next party.) So imagine my surprise when I came across a game called The Girl Who Sees developed by InterIntellectus Games. I don’t recall how we found each other but I’m certain it was meant to be. Right away when I saw the developers behind the game, I knew I wanted to support them.
The Girl Who Sees is a 2-D point and click, PC adventure game that showcases Filipino history and culture during World War II occupation. The main character is Quina, a young village girl, who learns Tagalog as she proceeds on her quest through the magical Philippine jungle. Along the way she is joined by a dwarf who helps her solve riddles and find treasures so they can decipher an ancient scroll.
Before I even played the game, I was intrigued by the time period the story is set in. I have always been drawn to the World War II era. Perhaps it was due to hearing stories from my grandma when I was a little girl. This game also sheds light on my family history and why my Japanese great-grandfather did not approve of his daughter marrying my Filipino grandfather.
It took me several weeks to figure out how I was going to play this game since it isn’t available yet for mobile or tablets. My laptop wasn’t an option as it is so old and too slow that I can’t even run Steam. After contemplating, it occurred to me that I could use my handy dandy Microsoft Surface! Within the hour I downloaded their demo and was off in a magical, foreign land called the Philippines.
When the main menu popped up I immediately fell in love with the music. The humorous characters and bright colors also popped! My senses were happy. Their demo allows players to select either quest mode or battle mode. I decided to go on a quest. In most other games, especially ones created by triple-A studios, I opt out of quests. I’m not one for exploration and venturing off on my own. With this game I was a bit more biased because I felt like there was something to learn. One of the main focal points of this game that I loved is that there is an option to learn Tagalog from Mrs. Buzon. Some words I was already familiar with in context while others were new to me altogether. As I proceeded, the combat scene was a little different for me because I’ve never played a game like that before or at least not one with such a simple style format. It took me some time to get acclimated to a grid that didn’t move as fluidly as I’m accustomed to. But eventually I picked up on how to defeat the little beast. Oh if I could tell you the stories about how many times I grew up hearing of the water buffalo and how my step-father would fall off of them as a child. I chuckled when I came across one in this game. Other components I was tickled by are the word matching and the prayer over the forest!
Things I learned:
There are 214 species of birds unique to the Philippines. I wouldn’t have sought out that kind of information on my own.
Kamatis means tomato. As a Filipino-American I am slightly ashamed that I did not know that. I love tomatoes.
Paruparo means butterfly in Tagalog.
Sampaguita, also known as the jasmine flower, is the national flower of the Philippines.
I have always loved playing games that I can either relate to or learn something new from. ‘Escaping’ within a game isn’t something I seek. However if the story becomes more compelling I could envision myself getting lost in this world. I am eager to see how the developers evolve The Girl Who Sees. I can hardly wait to share it with my family, especially my step-dad.