I play video games to relieve bouts of stress, to rack up achievements, to enjoy immersive visuals, and — sometimes — to challenge my moral compass.
Papers, Please is a puzzle video game developed by indie game developer Lucas Pope. It focuses on the emotional toll of working as an immigration officer, deciding whom to let in and whom to exclude from entering the fictional dystopian country of Arstotzka.
I like to talk about how I’m going to be a great social justice champion of the downtrodden, so hopefully I’m able to actually change the laws to benefit the abused because playing this game made me realize how difficult it is for me to break or bend the rules — EVEN WHEN I HAVE A DAMN GOOD REASON TO DO SO.
This game is much more than a “puzzle video game.” The people who come through your line (one after another after another until end of day, unless a terrorist shoots up the place on his motorcycle and you get sent home early) tell you sad stories that tug at your heartstrings, like the woman who wants to come join her son, but has expired paperwork and will curse you out if you deny her entry.
Sidenote: get your shit together Jorji, seriously, you cannot draw a passport in crayon and expect it to work out.
I’ve played through a few times with varying endings (none of them especially appealing), so I tried again last night.
I decided I’d say yes to everyone and see what happened.
Attempting to join your family with expired papers? No problem. Need me to confiscate that guy’s passport and hand it to you later so you can revenge-murder him? I got your back.
The problem was, I am so hard-wired to follow the rules that I kept forgetting I was being the wink-wink say-no-more good guy at the border crossing office that I’d feel incredibly sympathetic — right up until I found a typo and then KA-CHUNK, sorry, your polio vaccine is out of date and I don’t care if you need surgery you can only get here, because if I get caught waving you through my family might starve to death.
So. Yeah. We’re all screwed.
It’s a great game though, hours of fun stamping things and looking for errors. And letting terrorists through accidentally every now and then. (I’M SORRY OKAY IT WAS A MISTAKE)
Photo credit: Papers, Please official site
This post originally published at rhiannoncahours.com