« Global Game Jam 2011 at the University of Denver | Main | Fall Seminar Planning »

February 15, 2011

Immigration games from Ubisoft and from Owlchemy Labs

Esteban found this. It makes me chuckle. Faculty at UTEP are interviewed.

[February 10, 2011]
Video game depicts violence in Mexico
Feb 10, 2011 (El Paso Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Two new video games featuring immigrant smuggling and violence in Juarez will debut later this year.

One is the "Call of Juarez: The Cartel," developed by Ubisoft Entertainment and Techland, which will be out this summer.

The second one by Boston-based Owlchemy Labs, "Smuggle Truck: Operation Immigration," rewards safe-smuggling drivers in the game with a "green card." It will be available in March as an application for iPad and iPhone.

"These games -- making tragedy and human consequences invisible -- provide fun and adventure. I can only imagine, with sadness, the stereotypes that are reinforced, especially among non-border people," said Kathleen Staudt, political science professor at the University of Texas at El Paso and the author of several books on Juarez and the border.

Ubisoft's announcement describes its "Call of Juarez" game as a first-person shooter game bringing the Old West into the present day.

"You'll embark on a bloody road trip from Los Angeles to Juarez, Mexico, immersing yourself in a gritty plot with interesting characters and a wide variety of game play options," it states. "Take justice into your own hands in this modern Western shooter." The game will be available for PCs and consoles and can be played by more than one person.

Four years ago, Ubisoft, with offices in San Francisco, released "Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter," a video game inspired by best-selling author Tom Clancy and criticized by Mexican officials. It depicted U.S. military attacks against targets in Juarez.

According to an Owlchemy Labs news release, " 'Smuggle Truck' was inspired by the frustration our friends have experienced in trying to immigrate to the United States.

"With such a troublesome issue being largely avoided in popular media, especially video games, we felt the best way to criticize it was with an interactive satire." The object of the game is to drive a truck carrying apparent undocumented immigrants safely across a fictional border in a desert.

Company officials said they were careful to avoid depicting stereotypes and specific locales as they created the game.

"With a satirical angle on a real issue, we want to create a game that is fun to play but also stirs up discussion on ways to improve the problematic immigration system in the United States," officials said in a news release.

A salesperson at Best Buy on the West Side said a couple of people have already asked about "The Call of Juarez." Ian Roberts, a manager at GameStop on the East Side, said the suggested retail price for "Call of Juarez" is $59.99. It could be at the store by July. "We still have a couple of the 'Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2' games, and they sell for $19.93 each," Roberts said.

Diana Washington Valdez may be reached at dvaldez@elpasotimes.com; 546-6140.

To see more of the El Paso Times, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.elpasotimes.com. Copyright (c) 2011, El Paso Times, Texas Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For more information about the content services offered by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (MCT), visit www.mctinfoservices.com.

Posted by Rafael Fajardo at February 15, 2011 01:52 PM