Immigration game hits wrong note with advocates
Creator says goal is to help, not hurt
The battered-looking pickup truck careens over a Southwestern United States landscape, with cartoon men, women, and children bouncing out of the back. As the passengers land on the ground, the truck moves on, belching thick exhaust.
That’s the setup of a new game that a Boston-area studio is planning to release next month on Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPad, as well as the Internet. The object of Smuggle Truck: Operation Immigration is to cross the treacherous US border without losing too many immigrants.
The Watertown studio Owlchemy Labs LLC said yesterday that the game is meant as a satirical comment on the difficulties of immigrating to the United States.
Immigration advocates see it differently.
“It’s a tasteless and horrible joke,’’ said Eva Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, the largest immigrant advocacy group in New England. “Thousands of people die crossing the border.’’
Millona said she watched a video trailer for the game yesterday and was appalled to see cartoon babies bouncing out of the truck.
“I was almost in tears the way it turned tragedy into a joke,’’ she said.
One of the game’s cocreators, Alex Schwartz, 23, said a friend’s efforts to navigate immigration laws inspired him and his partner at the two-person Owlchemy, Yilmaz Kiymaz, to create Smuggle Truck.
“This is our way of bringing more attention to the immigration problem, which we think deserves more light,’’ Schwartz said. “I don’t see why an iPhone game can’t comment on topics that are serious. A political cartoonist can make this kind of statement. Why can’t a game developer?’’
The game, which is in the final stages of development, is not yet available on the iPhone or iPad. All games and applications, or apps, that run on Apple’s devices must be approved by the company, and Apple regularly rejects applications that it deems obscene, offensive, or defamatory.
Apple did not respond to a request for a comment on Smuggle Truck yesterday.
But even if the company does turn down the game, Owlchemy intends to release it online, Schwartz said. In fact, a short video trailer for the game is already available on smuggletruck.com and Facebook.
When the game is released, in late March, Schwartz said the studio is planning to charge $2.99 for the iPad game and $1.99 for the iPhone version.
Schwartz said that over the last few weeks he has been asking patrons at a local Starbucks to try the game, and the response has been “overwhelmingly positive.’’
“They get the idea that this is a comment on immigration, not just a joke,’’ he said. “You can’t judge it just by looking at a video and some screenshots.’’
He added that the scenes of the Southwest US depicted in the trailer are from the first level of the game. Subsequent levels take place in a forest and in underground caves in an attempt to broaden the message about immigration, he said. The developers have also been “meticulous in avoiding stereotypes,’’ Schwartz said.
But Millona, of the immigrant and refugee coalition, said that while she doesn’t dispute Owlchemy’s right to publish the game, she does not believe illegal immigration is an appropriate topic.
“These people are crossing the border because they are desperate,’’ she said. “I don’t think we should be turning a tragedy into a game.’’
EA Mobile is dropping the price on over two dozen iOS titles to just $0.99 for "48 hours only!" If the heart-themed banner we've reproduced above is any indication, this is intended to be a Valentine's Day sale ... though V-Day isn't until next Monday.
No bother! You're here for the cheap games, not the thematic justification, and we snagged the full list of discounted titles and put 'em just below.
You'll find lots of familiar names, like Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Need for Speed (in Hot Pursuit, Shift and Undercover flavors), Mirror's Edge, and more. Notably absent from any discount: the excellent iOS Dead Space title that debuted alongside its console counterpart late last month. Think about it this way: The money you save buying some of these games at $0.99 can be reinvested into buying Dead Space at its full $7 asking price, right? We're pretty sure that's as watertight a consumer justification as we've ever seen. You're welcome!
* Battlefield: Bad Company 2, down 80%
* Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, down 80%
* Cause of Death, down 50%
* Tetris, down 67%
* Pictureke, down 50%
* The Sims 3, down 86%
* Scrabble, down 67%
* FIFA 11, down 80%
* The Sims 3 Ambitions, down 80%
* Heroes Lore III, down 50%
* Mirror's Edge, down 80%
* NBA Elite 11, down 80%
* Madden NFL 11, down 80%
* Monopoly, down 67%
* Risk, down 80%
* NCAA Football, down 80%
* Sim City Deluxe, down 67%
* The Sims 3 World Adventures, down 80%
* The Simpsons Arcade, down 67%
* Need for Speed Shift, down 80%
* Need for Speed Undercover, down 80%
* The Game of LIFE, down 67%
* MONOPOLY World, down 67%
* FIFA 10, down 80%
* Mass Effect Galaxy, down 50%
__________________ Xbox Live: Decker 01........... My 360's Blog
PSN Gamertag : Decker01
GAME CENTER ID : DECKER 01
ChuChu Rocket HD (iPad)
Ecco the Dolphin
Phantasy Star II
Super Monkey Ball 1
Super Monkey Ball 2
Super Monkey Ball 2 Sakura Edition (iPad)
Streets of Rage
Virtua Fighter 2
And at $2.99:
Sonic the Hedgehog 1
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Sonic 4 Episode 1
I picked up Phoenix Wright for .99 last night. I've always wanted to play it and figured .99 was a perfect price to try it out. I ended up turning off my 360 last night and stayed up playing Phoenix Wright for about an hour and a half before going to bed
Apologies if this was covered, but I did a quick search and I don't read this thread often. I've had Scrabble for my iPhone 4 for a few months now, and I play only with my Facebook friends. I usually have 4-6 games going on at once with some combination of my wife and our friends. A couple of weeks ago, all my friends started showing up as anonymous and nobody knows why. My wife's 3G iPhone isn't doing this. I just started a new game with her and another married couple, and my wife and the other wife showed up as anonymous, but the husband shows up and he's the last person I friended on Facebook.
Has anybody else encountered anything like this? Is this a privacy setting on FB I need to fix?