A Siliconera report suggests that the next Dead Rising game is already in the works and will have a serious social issue in the context of its story. Capcom is not commenting on the details of the report, save to say that they have not announced anything about the next Dead Rising game. If the report is true, the next paragraph may contain spoilers that will make you sad in your soul. If you think spoilers are bad, then you might want to stop reading right now.
The small Massachusetts-based developer that found itself in the national spotlight over an illegal immigration transport game talks with Gamasutra about the public dust-up over and the misconception (in their view) of the company's stance on illegal immigration. Company founder Alex Schwartz spoke to Gamasutra about the response to the game, and how the company hopes that it can shed some light on immigration issues.
First, Schwartz tackles a question about whether the game would work without the smuggling theme:
"What we've gathered from tester feedback is that the mechanics are fun and challenging. What happens to be drawn on the sprites for the items in the back of the truck doesn't change the gameplay in any significant way. It does however augment the message and the theme, which can affect a player's engagement with the game."
The Owlchemy Labs, a Massachusetts-based developer of wacky and silly games, is taking some local heat from advocacy groups for its iOS game Smuggle Truck: Operation Immigration. In Smuggle Truck, players drive a pickup truck loaded with illegal immigrants. The goal of the game is to bring them over a fictional border while avoiding bumps that make them fall off the back of the truck.
Owlchemy Labs claims on the product page for the game that it was created out of a "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."
The company also claims that they "maintained a meticulous eye to avoid depicting stereotypes and specific locales."
The Homeland Guantanamos website offers an embedded Flash game designed to highlight the plight of immigrant detainees in U.S. custody.
Users will take on the role of a journalist posing undercover as an Immigrant Detention Center Guard in order to solve the death of 52-year old Guinea immigrant Boubacar Bah. A friendly detainee inside will aid the investigation as you tour the facility in search of clues.
The game is based on true events—Bah was a real detainee at the Elizabeth Detention Center in New Jersey (which the game models the detainee center after) and died in custody on May 30, 2007.
A video report from the New York Times on Bah’s death claims that following a fall, believed to have taken place in a bathroom, he was found unconscious. Bah later briefly regained consciousness and was taken to a medical center, where he became agitated. He was shackled and put in solitary confinement, where he again became unresponsive. 15 hours after his fall, Bah was rushed into emergency brain surgery. His family was not notified until five days after the fall. Bah was in a coma for four months before eventually dying.
The website estimates that 300,000 legal and illegal immigrants are currently in custody in the U.S. and that 87 immigrants have died in custody since 2003.
The game was developed by Free Range Studios for the human rights organization Breakthrough.
The New York Times video was just one-part of a series of reports on in-custody deaths of immigrants in the U.S.
Kennesaw, Georgia is in the midst of an ugly scandal. And a racist online game is playing a prominent role.
Last week, a group of minority employees in the Atlanta suburb filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging mistreatment by white co-workers, supervisors and elected officials.
City Councilman John Dowdy (left), a defendant in the suit, has resigned his post, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Among numerous allegations, the lawsuit charges that Dowdy, a 10-year veteran of City Council, circulated e-mail links to the anti-immigration themed Flash game Border Patrol. Released anonymously in 2006, Border Patrol disparages Hispanics with epithets such as "drug dealer" and "breeder."
From the lawsuit:
Dowdy sent an email to Human Resources Director... linking the recipient to a racially violent video game called "Border Patrol" in which the game player would "shoot" different cartoon characters that were stereotypes of Mexicans, including "Mexican National," "Drug Smuggler," and "Breeder," a cartoon of a pregnant Mexican woman holding hands with children . Points were assigned for shooting and killing each of these characters .
Dowdy forwarded this game to [three Kennesaw employees] among other people, along with a message which read, "THIS IS WAY TOO MUCH FUN!!!!!!!!!!!! Makes you feel better anyway, I did my part today, I kept a few from coming over!!! GET READY --- THEY ARE
FAAAST! ! !"
UPDATE: We inquired with Kennesaw officials as to whether Dowdy is a Democrat or Republican. However, we were told that council elections there are non-partisan, so no party affiliation is recorded by the city.
With recently-announced layoffs pummeling the gaming side of Microsoft's house, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is urging MS to cut visiting foreign workers before sending American citizens to the unemployment line.
Reuters reports that Grassley forwarded his request via a letter to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer late last week. The Xbox 360 manufacturer employs thousands of foreign national under the H-1B visa program.
Grassley's comments to Microsoft include:
I am concerned that Microsoft will be retaining foreign guest workers rather than similarly qualified American employees when it implements its layoff plan...
Microsoft has a moral obligation to protect these American workers by putting them first during these difficult economic times.
The full text of Grassley's letter is available on his Senate website.
GamePolitics readers may recall ICED!, an immigration-themed game released earlier this year by human rights organization Breakthrough. ICED! generated a good bit of controversy, including attacks by the Minutemen anti-immigration group.
While the goal of ICED! was to avoid being picked up by the authorities, Breakthrough has launched a new game which explores issues surrounding federal detention of suspected illegal immigrants.
Homeland Guantanamos is an interactive, online adventure which casts the player in the role of an investigative reporter looking into conditions inside federal immigrant detention facilities. As the game begins, players are assigned to follow up on the death of Guinean tailor Boubacar Bah, a real person who died under mysterious circumstances while being held at a facility in New Jersey. 86 other suspected illegal immigrants have also died in U.S. custody since 2003.
The New York Times, which originally broke the story of Bah's death, looks at the Homeland Guantanamos:
The fictional framework plays fast and loose with traditional rules of journalism — the reporter takes an undercover job as a detention guard and writes a first-person appeal for change rather than an article — but the content encountered along the way is backed by links to real newspaper articles, court documents and other factual material...
Mixing fact and fantasy is familiar territory for Breakthrough, which seeks to galvanize young people by using the new tools of popular culture to put them in the shoes of legal and illegal immigrants.
Kelly Nantel, a spokeswoman for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security offered harsh criticism of the game:
[It is] a work of fiction that dehumanizes the individuals depicted and grossly distorts conditions in detention facilities. I believe that most informed people know that they leave reality at the door when they enter the world of video games.
Breakthrough executive director Mallika Dutt, who hopes the game will help generate support for legislation aimed at bringing additional due process to immigration proceedings, told the NYT:
The Department of Homeland Security’s enforcement measures have become increasingly draconian and are leading to severe consequences, including death, for many.
A watchdog group has criticized the controversial Michigan State University chapter of the Young Americans for Freedom for promoting Border Patrol, a racist Flash game released in 2006.
The charge came after MSU YAF linked to Border Patrol via a recent blog post.
YAF Watch, a site dedicated to tracking activities of the MSU YAF, writes:
The game, Border Patrol, encourages the player to shoot Mexican immigrants dashing over the border. When the player shoots one of the immigrants, a blood splatter appears. The various targets for the player include a pregnant woman, a baby and man carrying a backpack...
This is not the first time YAF has been involved in degrading immigrants. They first made headlines with a proposed "Catch An Illegal Immigrant" game in 2006. The game would have featured a person portraying an illegal immigrant, and encourage game players hunting the person down. The game was condemned by MSU officials, including President Lou Anna K Simmons. It eventually was canceled.
According to Wikipedia, the MSU YAF was cited as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2006. In 2007 the group hosted Chris Simcox, head of the Minuteman Civil Defense League, a group which aggressively targets illegal immigration.
Border Patrol, anonymously released to the Internet, has been widely condemned. As GP correspondent Colin McInnes wrote in our original 2006 coverage:
Most of the debate about illegal immigration centers on America's border with Mexico, so it's especially troubling that in Border Patrol the player's tasks include shooting "Mexican nationalists," "drug dealers," and "breeders" - pregnant Mexican women - who try to rush the border towards a welfare office.