A son of Mexican immigrants has created “Borders,” a video game that seeks to recreate the deadly journey across the desert to enter illegally to the U.S.
However, he says, the game is not intended for entertainment.
Gonzalo Alvarez, an illustrator from Texas, writes on his website that he hopes the game serves as a “political art game” and contributes to “a better future” for the next generation.
But “Borders” is a playable game.
The player in the game takes on the role of an immigrant dodging relentless attacks by gun-wielding border agents, known in Spanish as “la migra,” as he tries to get across the desert to the other side of the border. He also has to deal with “los moscos” or helicopters, and needs to make sure he collects enough jugs of water for his survival.
Every time the player dies, he turns into a skeleton that remains permanently on that same spot.
“The goal was … to expose [people] to what it’s really like to cross the border while building up a mass grave of skeletons,” said Alvarez, who developed the game with Jon DiGiacomo and Genaro Vallejo Reyes.
Alvarez, 23, said he chose to create “Borders” as an 8-bit video game to give it a simple, arcade-like look.
“I went with pixel art style, because of its minimalism [and how it] allows for creative stimulation from the viewer,” Alvarez told Lamar University newspaper. “You can’t really tell what it is — but you can tell what it is — and that ambiguity allows players to portray themselves in the character without necessarily seeing the character as an entity”.
“So this isn’t Joe, this isn’t Bob, this isn’t Jose — this is just, essentially, a vessel for you to put yourself in. You kind of become the character,” he said.