Fun or Offensive? La Chancla, Latino-Themed Gaming App, Stirs Controversy

The first Latino-themed gaming app created by Latinos has reached nearly 1,000 paid downloads since it was released last week. However, the game received mixed reviews about the way it portrays Latinos.

"I don't really like the game," said Sonya, a Highland Park mother. "Kids might feel that they have to follow stereotypes like Mexicans should be cholos (gangsters)."

La Chancla is the name of the 99-cent game, and the rules are simple: Avoid getting hit by grandma's chancla, Spanish for slipper, while running through the streets of Highland Park. The game plays on the cultural phenomenon of Latino mothers and grandmothers using their flip-flops to discipline their children. The characters, whether it is Super Cholo or Baby Bubba, run through the streets jumping to get tacos, burritos and coins – all to the sound of a cumbia-mariachi mix of music.

Even though some find it offensive, creator Erik Garcia said the game is based on his reality.

"It's just a product of our environment," said Garcia, founder of Echo Brown development. "We are not trying to be racist in any way, it's just what we grew up with."

Although some people said they are offended, Garcia said the humor of the game outweighs any notion of negative stereotypes.

One mother of two in Highland Park said the game is fun and funny.

"It hits home," said Anais Arrenquin. "I don't find offense to it and growing up in a community the way we were brought up, it's just kind of funny."

Garcia said there are barely any Latino gaming developers, and that this game is one of the few that actually strikes a chord with people.

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