Girl Who Sees player screen

New Game from AU Alumni Highlights Filipino Culture

“In order to understand the destiny of a people, it is necessary to open the book of its past,” said Jose Rizal, a Philippine revolutionary. Two American University graduates are hoping to do just that through “The Girl Who Sees,” a Filipino fantasy adventure game.

Against a backdrop of military occupation and Filipino lore, “The Girl Who Sees” focuses on a young village girl, Quina, who helps a duwende (a dwarf from Filipino folklore) named Edgar translate a mysterious ancient scroll. In doing so she embarks on journey where she encounters the fantastical beasts of Philippine mythology.

Pattie (right) watches Girl Who Sees players at District Arcade

Pattie (right) watches Girl Who Sees players at District Arcade

Before she met Edgar, Quina’s adventure began at American University during the 2016 Global Game Jam. Pattie Umali, an SIS graduate student at the time, met Nathan Hahn and Cherisse Datu, her future development team there. Umali started “The Girl Who Sees” as a way to continue developing the skills she learned in AU game design classes.

“As a Filipina-American who loves media and gaming, I have always felt sore about the fact that there is very little representation of Filipinos and Fil-Ams in the media and virtually none in gaming. Given that the Filipino diaspora today is enormous and spread out across the world, I want to help ensure that there are opportunities for young Filipinos to engage with our culture in a fun, interactive way. I hope that playing a game like this will spark an interest in learning about Filipino history/culture and learning their parents’ native tongue.”

Umali’s project attracted the attention of Datu, an alumna of AU’s Game Design MA program. Inspired by the content, she joined the game’s development team this year. An avid game player, Datu feels that The Girl Who Sees can fill a hole that’s missing in popular culture at large.

“I’ve always felt that Filipino-American contributions to popular culture get left out or ignored. We’re the second largest Asian immigrant group in the United States, but for the most part we’re stuck as contributors to food featured on Fear Factor. My parents didn’t teach me Tagalog, because a Tagalog accent was seen as uneducated when I was growing up. Working on the Girl Who Sees is a way to reconnect to that lost opportunity.”

It’s been less than year since Umali and Datu received their diplomas, and the game that started at AU is still growing.

Their crowdfunding campaign starts on October 1st, the beginning of Filipino-American heritage month.

You can view their website at

Their IndieGogo campaign can be found here:

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