If life does in fact imitate art, then Oscar Wilde has nothing on Karen Roxana Victorio, an animation major who recently created a COVID-19 pandemic-themed lotería game for members of her Bay Area church.   

Lotería (the Spanish word for “lottery”) is similar to bingo but uses images on a deck of cards instead of numbered ping-pong balls. Players use at least one tabla, a board with a grid of pictures, and try to mark off a row, column, or another agreed-upon pattern as cards are called. It’s traditionally been a popular family game in Latinx culture and appeals to both adults and children.

“One of the most satisfying moments of the whole experience came during a recent food drive at the church. A man told me he decided to get the vaccination because of his experiences in playing the game with his family,” said Victorio, a sophomore.  “Seeing my art spur action was very satisfying.” 

A family connection to Eden United Church of Christ in Hayward originally led her to the project. The church was about to contract the creation of lotería cards out when Victorio’s sister mentioned the project to her and asked if she was interested. Victorio, who has created commissioned artwork before, was just wrapping up her freshman year at Chico State and jumped at the chance to apply her growing skill set to an important cause. 

She created 16 cards, covering many different aspects of the pandemic— from wearing masks to working from home to getting the vaccine. There’s el aislamentio (the isolation) with a drawing of a closed door covered in caution tape, la prueba (the proof), which features a COVID-19 test, and even el personel de salud (healthcare professionals), which pays tribute to the workers on the frontlines of the pandemic.  

A loteria card shows a grid of nine images along a COVID-19 theme.
Photo courtesy of Karen Roxana Victorio

Creating the drawings for each card solely on a Samsung tablet took Victorio about a month.  

“Creating the lotería game is the first time I’ve ever designed anything on a tablet. It was a totally new experience and something I’m thrilled to add to my portfolio,” she said. “Aspiring artists are judged on their portfolios, and my goal is to show continuous improvement throughout my time at Chico State.”  

Victorio first discovered the University during a high school trip, looking for a college that was further away from her Hayward home than where most of her peers looked to end up. She fell in love with the natural beauty of the campus and also took note of the University’s focus on women and diversity programs.  

“More than any specific club or program, I got the feeling the University is reaching out to the Latinx community and trying to create a welcoming environment for us,” said Victorio. “Because of that, Chico felt like a place that would feel like home.”  

Of course, her new home would have to wait as the COVID-19 pandemic made her entire freshman year a virtual experience. While her in-person Chico experience was on hold, she poured herself into her artistic classes—taking courses like “Intro to Digital Media” and “Basic Life Drawing.” By spring, she had modified her major from art studio to animation because she found she liked using technology to express her creativity. 

“Karen is a very genuine and smart young artist full of positive thinking and encouraging energy,” said Trevor Lalaguna, professor. “Her creativity has been influential to other students, and I can see Karen bridging out further into her community with her innovative ideas.” 

Victorio’s church handed out 500 copies of the game to parishioners. Though she hopes the worst of the pandemic is behind us, she plans to bring copies of her lotería creation to Chico State in the fall both to keep as part of her portfolio and to continue advocating for the importance of vaccines. 

“The goal of creating and distributing the game to my local community is to get accurate information out there in a fun and family-friendly way, and hopefully make a difference in our community,” Victorio said.