Teachers will find this game a great icebreaker for any conversation about border politics in particular and social justice in general. By queuing up ideas about the rights of humans to make choices about where and how they live and the political realities of those choices, The Migrant Trail will open up a conversation that can continue in the classroom. It should be useful both as an introduction to the topic and as a discussion starter after watching the film The Undocumented, and could also pair nicely with NPR: Borderland. For older students, placing The Migrant Trail in conversation with Papers, Please could make for a great unit on border politics and immigration policy as well as on serious game design.Continue reading Show less
Presented in comic book style spiced with real-world video and images, The Migrant Trail asks players to role-play either a U.S. Border Patrol officer or a Mexican national trying to enter the United States illegally. The game simulates the journey using a simple top-down view of a group walking down a desert road. At each branch in the road, players must choose a direction. As time goes on, more choices are required: Leave behind an injured member of the group? Drink dirty water to stay hydrated? Keeping an eye on a set of indicators measuring things like will, strength, and hydration, players carefully husband their limited supplies. Make a bad choice and they die. Run into the border patrol and they’re arrested. Border patrol officers drive the same road attempting to capture illegal immigrants -- or locate the remains of those who don't make it. A short epilogue describes what life in the United States is like for those who successfully make the crossing.
As an experience of the conflict and dilemmas facing those who strive for access at the U.S./Mexico border, The Migrant Trail has something to offer. It's a powerful learning opportunity that gets kids considering different viewpoints, and building empathy and cultural perspective. Kids will learn to think more carefully about the issues -- and people -- involved in the greater border story. At the same time, the game itself provides only a limited taste of the challenge of keeping people on one side or the other of an invisible line. So, while The Migrant Trail provides a start on the journey of learning about complex social and political issues, it doesn't go quite far enough.
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