Tuesday, August 7, 2007


CNN ran this story, "Game Focuses on Immigration Issues" last Friday about a new video game developed by Mallika Dutt at Breakthrough that focuses on Immigration issues. The kicker is that the game invites players to step into the shoes of foreigners who run afoul of the U.S. immigration system. Two of the characters are a Japanese computer science student who fails to take a full load of university classes and loses his student visa and a 10th-grade Indian girl detained because of a high school essay she wrote on the Department of Homeland Security. Players try to avoid deportation by keeping a low profile and performing community service. Shoplifting or jumping a subway turnstile loses points. Lose too many, and your character ends up in a federal detention facility.

Bit of a step apart from the "Oregon Trail" game I used to play in middle school.

ICED is part of a new trend of games and new media developed to highlight social issues around the world. And immigration isn't the only serious topic being addressed by groups with an agenda. This article from the LA Times last week, "Immigration Debate Finds Itself in Play", notes how political candidates are using games to reach voters, starbucks recently partnered with an environmental organization to create a game about global warming, and students at the University of Denver developed a video game called "Squeezed" designed to raise empathy for migrant laborers.

Last Tuesday, the Colbert Report interviewed author and game analyst, Ian Bogost, about his new book Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames. Bogost explores the value of using games as education or tools to explore different complex issues in a meaningful way, like disrupting fundamental attitudes and beliefs about the world (a game that deals with China's treasury bond threats against the U.S. dollar? How about cultural collisions (and compromises) when global economies collide?)

ICED (or "I Can End Deportation" and a double entendre for the acronym for the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement office) will be released in October 2007 and available for play for free online (I'll be posting it in my sweetshop when it comes out).

You can read the first chapter of Persuasive Games by Ian Bogost, here.


  1. check your links, a lot of them don't work.

  2. The only link that was broken was the Persuasive Games link, albeit that link was repeated in 3 places. The US government and DoD is now blocking all blogger.com sites and blogspot.com sites (have you noticed I haven't been to Freshsnaps as often as I used to?). With a little hacking (using the google cached page)I can still post to CandyBuffet, but I can't see the updated site until I come home, so I can't check the links after posting like I used to. If you see something broken, drop me a line and I will have fixed at night, when I can actually see the page.