Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Death of Detained Immigrant Inspires Online Game-kind of blows your mind

I discovered a website that will truly blow your mind away. Created by Breakthrough, an international human rights organization, the game centers on an investigation to the death of Boubacar Bah, a detained immigrant who died while imprisoned under suspicious circumstances in 2007. A spokeswoman for ICE said that the video game is “a work of fiction that dehumanizes the individuals depicted and grossly distorts conditions in detention facilities.” She added, “I believe that most informed people know that they leave reality at the door when they enter the world of video games.” I actually played the online video game which is found at www.homelandgitmo.com . In the game, you are an undercover reporter who has applied for a job as a detention guard at the Elizabeth Detention Center in NJ where Bah died (and Fauziya was held). You move around the detention facility picking up clues, talking to other inmates, reviewing incident reports having to due with Bah, all the meanwhile taking notes. While this is a video game as ICE officials are quick to remind us, it is simply a video game because it’s an interactive virtual story being told. Throughout the game, “the content encountered along the way is backed by links to real newspaper articles, court documents and other factual material.”  

Breakthrough, the human rights organization responsible for this video game, is known to mix fantasy with reality with the goal of educating young people on immigration issues. They have another online video game called “ICED-I Can End Deportation” in which “a player assumes the role of one of five characters with uncertain immigration status, trying to avoid deportation and secure citizenship. That game can be found at www.icedgame.com It serves as a good mental workout for us so I would suggest that you take 15 minutes from “facebooking” and play these two pretty wild video games about detainees and legal status. Talk about human rights group stepping up their game huh?

3 comments:

Sophia said...

I haven’t played the video games but I would like to comment on the idea of using media technology to advocate the cause. At first, I was taken back by the idea of exploiting the trying times of detainees for media profits, but after reading the articles, I realize that the games are not exploitations but rather education resources for the public. I fully support Breakthrough and their attempts to advocate for human rights. Too many people are ignorant to the atrocities that plague detainees. ICED and the online games serve as tools to bring awareness to an issue that is marginalized. I also read the New York Times article and feel as though that the media is beginning to recognize human right issues and I am hopeful that the media in general will begin taking a more proactive approach in detailing the specifics of detainees being housed in substandard facilities. I believe that both the newspaper and the online games are assisting those who are unrepresentative and a means for people to bring a needed topic to debate.

Elle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elle said...

I played the game and I would recommend it to everyone. I was skeptical at first because like Sophia, I felt that the game exploited the hardships of detainees. After playing, I realize that it is a very effective education tool. Even if you are just thinking about it, you should play. It takes about 30 minutes to complete and is definitely a very cool way to "see" inside a detention center. It makes me wonder what they weren't telling us at York...