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Ancient Mayan world meets 21st century in new video game

August 24, 2013

GUATEMALA CITY – An ancient Mayan ball game has been brought back to life by a Guatemalan company aiming to encourage youths to reconnect with their ancestry through modern technology.

“Mayan Pitz” is the first-ever video game for mobile phones that has been produced in Guatemala, and the company behind it, Digital Partners, says its appeal isn’t just in Central America – the game has already been downloaded in an array of countries around the world.

“Since the game launched at the beginning of June we’ve had downloads in the USA, France, Russia, Italy, India, Saudi Arabia and Japan,” said Daniel Monroy, creative director of Digital Partners.

“I wanted to develop a product that was memorable, that would salvage the lost cultural value of our history and could be used to educate.”

The game is set at the end of each Baktún, a period of time in the Maya long-count calendar when the Mayans chose two warriors to compete in a ceremonial ball game.

Mayan Pitz 2

In “Mayan Pitz,” an ancient ball game has been brought back to life. Designers hope to “salvage” Mesoamerica’s ancestral heritage in a modern format. Courtesy of Digital Partners

In “Mayan Pitz” contestants are Hun Hunaphu and Ixbalanque, and their objective is to pass each of 15 levels by defeating other warriors at a ball game, arriving at Gumarkaj, the entrance to the underworld. Here they must then destroy “Los Señores de Xibalbá” to be crowned the winners and save the Mayan people. 

With its emphasis on salvaging Mesoamerica’s ancestral culture, “Mayan Pitz” includes an educational section where players can read information and learn about the story of the ancient Maya and where they lived. Each of the levels is set in a different archaeological site, which has been made to look like the original, and contains brief facts and links to further information about each of the ruins.

The scoring system is similar to that of tennis, with games, sets and points being awarded per set.

“We tried to integrate something modern with something old so that it was more understandable,” said Monroy, who hopes that there will be enough demand for “Mayan Pitz” that his company, Digital Partners, will be able to develop a sequel. 

“We’re working on launching another two games this year: one based on football and another about places in Guatemala called ‘Expedition to Guatemala’ that we hope to launch in December.”  

Mayan Pitz is available for download on iPhones, iPods, iPads, smartphones and Android tablets, and a web version of the game will be launched in July.

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