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.