I had heard that Brenda Romero was working on a new, serious game which in part explored the relationship between Mexican culture and food, but Gunman Taco Truck [official site] wasn’t what I was expecting… Oh, wait, this isn’t that? This action game about blasting your way across post-apocalypse United States and selling tacos to the survivors was actually designed by a nine-year-old Donovan Brathwaite-Romero and co-developed by him with his mum Brenda and stepdad John Romero. It’s now out on Steam and there’s a trailer below.
The setup is that you’re fleeing mutant-infested America in order to make a new home in Winnipeg, Canada, where there are no taco trucks and your family business can thrive. You shoot at various colourful mutants during the driving sections, and then sell tacos to the survivors in each new town you reach. The two are connected in various ways, in that the mutants you kill provide the meat for your tacos and the money you earn helps you buy condiments and petrol with which to reach the next town.
Donovan Brathwaite-Romero pitched the game to his parents and they liked the idea enough that they decided to make it together as a family project. That process has taken two years, with John Romero first creating a “‘fill in the blanks’ game design document” in which Donovan had to expand his original idea, and development taking place during a series of game jams with a team of six. Donovan has also been learning to program for three years, with the game partly conceived as a way of helping him learn. Here he is, now eleven years old:
You can hear Brenda Romero talk a little about the other game she’s making, which is called Mexican Kitchen Workers, at 8 minutes and 10 seconds into this video, and about the other games in the Mechanic Is The Message series at her site.