A Brief History of Hispanic Dictators in Video Games
You know me: I’m a history nerd and a video games geek. So, when the opportunity comes to combine the two, I jump at it. I’ve done it before, too. Remember when I told you about Stroessner’s bootleg console empire in Paraguay? The General ruled the country for 35 years with an iron fist, but was kind enough to allow manufacturing of Familcones. Speaking of bootlegs, I also shared some of my favorite bootleg games that I remember playing as a kid. But I can’t keep this all to myself. In fact, there’s no need. Nefarious characters from our past are featured widely, and often, in games. So, here’s a brief history of Hispanic dictators in video games. Now, you too can bring untold misery upon millions.
Tropico: The Obvious Is Obvious for a Reason
If there ever was a franchised suited to this topic (he), it’s Tropico. If you haven’t heard about it, Tropico is a bit like Age of Empires, but with a fun twist. You play as dictatorial “presidents”. The franchise has featured Hispanic Dictator Hall of Famers Fidel Castro (Cuba) and Augusto Pinochet (Chile). It is worth mentioning that Cuba has a very strange relationship with technology and its government. Cubans developed a city-wide LAN party in the 2000s because they couldn’t get internet access. And yet, they still complained vociferously at a depiction of Fidel Castro getting assassinated in the original Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010).
At any rate, futher entries in the Tropico franchise allow even more diversity in Dictatorial rule. Juan and Eva Perón, Manuel Noriega, Alfredo Stroessner, Hernández Martínez and more are all featured in one or more Tropico games. If you want to experience the widest possible gamut of Hispanic dictators in video games, Tropico is your one-stop shop.
Call of Duty: Black Ops (I and II) – “Treyarch, You Hurt My Feelings” Edition
As mentioned before, Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010) was very controversial at the time of its release, because it included a depiction of Fidel Castro getting assassinated. Castro remains a pretty divisive figure to this day, even in his native Cuba, so I wasn’t totally surprised. But what did surprise me, was another dictator’s own response to being featured in a Treyarch game.
Manuel Noriega featured in a negative light in Call of Duty: Black Ops II. The game was an almost universal hit. I say almost, because Noriega wasn’t happy about how he was portrayed in the game. He had reservations about being cast as a murderous, drug trafficking despot. He made his feelings known at the time, and people took him very seriously and removed his likeness from the game. Just kidding, nobody cared.
This Is Only the Beginning: Hispanic Dictators in Video Games Are More Prolific!
The truth is, we’d be here a long time if we wanted to list every single notable appearance in a single article. But that’s not the point of this series. The idea is to create enough awareness for you lovely people to notice these things. I joke a lot about South America’s dark past, but sadly, it’s the part of our culture most often represented in games. I hope that by sharing these things in an anecdotal, friendly fashion, we can start a conversation and strengthen Hispanic representation in video games. In the meantime, let me know which are your favorite appearances by Hispanic dictators in video games. I’m dying to make a follow-up to this article.