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It'll fit into a unit on immigration and/or citizenship in history, social studies, or government classes. Since there's no tutorial, some portion of the class should be devoted to how the game works and how to play it. Students could play at home or in a computer lab, or sign up for in-class slots of play time. After each session, have students reflect on their experience in a journal. Create dedicated prompts for the journals, and since students will likely be interested in one anothers' unique experiences, consider using a blogging platform. Suggested prompts: How did the game make you feel when you had to make a hard decision? What did you think while playing the game? What do you think is the point of this game? To supplement journaling, facilitate discussion about ethical quandaries that players face. For instance, did they save the starving woman and risk losing their job, or did they deny the starving woman so they could pay for their mother’s medicine at the end of the work day?Continue reading Show less
Papers, Please is a simulation video game that puts students in the role of an immigration officer for the fictional communist nation of Arstotska. Players decide who gets in and who stays out. To approve or deny someone, players check an ever-increasing number of documents. Each day adds new things to be aware of, and it's a tough -- but interesting -- tightrope to walk. In order to make the right choice and be efficient, players need to be slow; to make the most money, they need to be fast. How does the pain of this balance increase when human lives hang in the balance?
The plot unfolds around developing political events, terrorist activity (including attacks), an anti-government radical group, and mini-stories involving potential immigrants or visitors. Players encounter many ethical quandaries that force can’t-do-good-by-everyone decisions, and upsetting people is unavoidable. It's a very simple but unique game: part simulation, part puzzle, part adventure, part commentary. For some, obsessively fact-checking and poring over virtual documents will be particularly engaging, but for others, the grind of each day may prove too difficult.
Students can learn how detailed, textual investigation can develop skills that greatly help with writing, reading closely, and applying information to particular contexts. Also, given the serious nature of the game, students explore how different decisions can produce serious consequences and begin to understand how ethics and morals intersect. The fictional but realist presentation of the game familiarizes students with important immigration, citizenship, legality, and fairness issues in a more easily consumable, broadly drawn way than if the game dealt with real countries and people. Students can also get a feel for what it's like to work on a government border and learn about the challenges and perils of working life in general.
Key Standards Supported
Reading Informational Text
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.
Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks; analyze the specific results based on explanations in the text.
Speaking & Listening
Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, identifying any fallacious reasoning or exaggerated or distorted evidence.
Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, assessing the stance, premises, links among ideas, word choice, points of emphasis, and tone used.