11 February 2011

a video game based on illegal immigration?

I don’t know what bothers me more about this.  The idea that someone makes a video game about illegal immigration, or their justification for it.

The game is Smuggle Truck: Operation Immigration.  It’s a simple concept – you’ve got a truckload of folks in the back of a pickup and you floor it to the border trying to get as many as you can across.  A Green Card is awarded to those who get the most people over the border safely, while a Smugglers Run award can be had for getting over the fastest with at least one passenger.

Insensitive?  Absolutely.  But hey, it’s a free country so I’ll give you that.  What bugged the hell out of me was their justification for making it.  Apparently I’m getting too sensitive in my old age, because it’s satire:

“Smuggle Truck was inspired by the frustration our friends have experienced in trying to immigrate to the United States. With such a troublesome issue being largely avoided in popular media, especially video games, we felt the best way to criticize it was with an interactive satire.”

“This idea originated as a result of learning that the process of legal immigration was not as straightforward as we had assumed. As we lived through a painful 12 months of our friend struggling through the absurd legal minefield that surrounds U.S. immigration, we felt that we should create a game that touches on the issue. The comment was thrown around that "it's so tough to legally immigrate to the U.S., it's almost easier to smuggle yourself over the border", and thus Smuggle Truck was born.”

So, I’m supposed to believe that you were so frustrated with your friends trying to get into the States legally that your only outlet was to create a video game about Mexicans doing border runs.  And you think that it’s easy to do it in real life.

“Throughout the creation of the game, we maintained a meticulous eye to avoid depicting stereotypes and specific locales.”

Hrmm… last I knew there were only two countries bordering the US.  And I don’t believe illegal Canadians are coming over through the desert.  But again, I’m probably being overly sensitive over this whole deal.  Maybe the next version can be a bunch of Chinese folks sneaking in via cargo ships, or a bunch of Filipinos posing as caretakers.  How about a first person version for the WII or Kinect so that you could actually be the border runner!  

There are dangerously real reasons why people risk their lives trying to get into this country.  Trivializing it by making a video game out of it and calling it satire will do nothing to help move the discussion forward.

[Sign On San Diego: Immigrant smuggling video game called insensitive]
[FOX Chicago: Boston company draws fire for 'Smuggle Truck' immigration game app]

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