PakeTown is a video game that simulates the historical development of the Paquete Semanal (Weekly Package), the famous alternative offline data distribution network that every week supplies all of Cuba. It documents all aspects of this phenomenon, from its origins to the present day. It provides an understanding of how digital media are organized, distributed and consumed on the island, and conveys its political, economic and social context, illustrating the social impact of the democratization of digital technologies. Users will experience the changes in the means of distribution and reception that have shaped the Cuban media sphere since the 1970s.
PakeTown is the result of an artistic research process. Documentary in nature, its objective is to bring the history and development of the current Cuban media reality to its users in a playful way.
Copy, exchange and distribute digital materials; build your own media empire.
PakeTown simulates the historical development of the Paquete Semanal (Weekly Package), the famous offline data distribution network in Cuba. It documents all aspects of this phenomenon, from its origins to the present, taking into account the organization, distribution and consumption of entertainment materials and the democratization of technologies in Cuba. It also allows to experience the changes in the means of circulation and the processes of reception that this phenomenon has undergone since the seventies of the last century.
The project resorts to the genre of business simulation games or Tycoon games, a type of video game very popular worldwide, in which players assume the role of owners of a company. In Cuba, where the private economy is still very restricted, simulation games such as Pizza Syndicate (in which you run a chain of pizzerias) or FarmVille 2: Rural Getaway (in which you develop and manage the crops and production equipment of a farm), are very popular content in the Paquete.
PakeTown is the result of an exhaustive research on the future of the Weekly Package in Cuba. The game has a marked documentary purpose and its objective is to provide an enjoyable experience that brings its history and development closer to any interested user. It will be distributed free of charge in Cuba through the Paquete; the same media it documents. It will also be exhibited as an artistic project in exhibitions together with a multimedia installation that documents its development and production.
Video games in Cuba
A national video game production was initially created in Cuba in the context of the medialization of primary education. These educational software products, which were programmed on behalf of the state and had a rather limited entertainment character, but a certain degree of interactivity. Between 1989 and 1990, El laberinto del saber (The Labyrinth of Knowledge) was produced, considered the first of its kind in the country. Likewise, in 1989, La fortaleza del terror (The Fortress of Terror) was produced, a conversational adventure (also known as digital fiction), by the independent studio Merchise.
At present, Cuba does not have university specialties and governmental institutions whose mission is oriented to the training of professionals and the development of video games, respectively. Thanks to the association between various organizations, such as the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC), the Center for the Development of Interactive and 3D Environments (VERTEX) of the University of Computer Sciences (UCI), Cinesoft, Citmatel, DATYS, XETID, Desoft and the Young Computer Clubs, video game projects have been generated, some of which have come to fruition. In addition to these official instances, there is a growing number of independent developers, among them Polymita Studios (with whom ICAIC has collaborated), Fox Productions, GreenRune Studio, Empty Head Games, Zona Guiter and ConWiro.
Based on the experience of Evelio Mederos, Ever Mederos, Ernesto Borges and Nestor Siré
Spanish edition and corrections: Yainet Rodríguez Rodríguez
Special thanks to: Julia Weist, Matriz OMEGA, Ines Neidhardt, Michael Thoss, Nicole Medvecka, Chuli Herrera and Daniela A. Gutiérrez
Developed with the support of the German Embassy in Cuba and the Goethe Institute