L.A. Times on Games & Immigration Debate

Do video games have a place in the current debate over immigration policy? 

Reporter Anna Gorman of the Los Angeles Times probes the relationship between games and immigration. Along the way she quotes Suzanne Seggerman, president of Games for Change:

Games are really good at exploring complex issues, and what issue is more complex than immigration?  …A game can allow for a new perspective and, in some cases, new conviction.

Human rights organization Breakthrough recently partnered with New York City high-school students to create ICED! I Can End Deportation (screenshot at left) The game was presented at last month’s Games for Change conference and will be released online later this year. Mallika Dutt, Breakthrough’s executive director, said:

Especially for the age group below 35, online media has become a very central part of their lives. If we want to engage with these constituencies, we have to engage in the method and tools that make more sense to them.

University of Denver students, operating under a grant from mtvU and Cisco Systems, are working on Squeezed (video available) a game designed to raise empathy for migrant laborers. UD student Porter Schutz told the Times that members of the Squeezed team held diverse views about immigration:

It’s difficult to sort of rock the boat without vilifying anybody.

Harry Pachon, president of USC’s Tomas Rivera Policy Institute credited games with bringing the issue to those who might other wise pay little attention:

What this does is open up the world of the undocumented.

Gorman also mention the racist Flash game Border Patrol which appeared on the web in 2006. It’s objective?

Keep them out… at any cost. 

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