Procedural Rhetoric and Undocumented Migrants: Playing the Debate Over Immigration Reform.
|Title:||Procedural Rhetoric and Undocumented Migrants: Playing the Debate Over Immigration Reform.|
Abstract: The main purpose of this article is to analyze how a representative selection of computer games, set mostly in a Latin American context or at the US-Mexico border, are capable of mounting arguments about immigration policy by making good or poor uses of what Ian Bogost has conceptualized as “procedural rhetoric” (Bogost 2007). In other words, my goal in this article is to explore to what extent videogames can be effectively persuasive in the way they manage to create a computational representation of the experience of migrating, and its associated consequences, independently of the legal or illegal status of such displacements. This article revises current research on procedural representation to offer a detailed analysis of a representative selection of digital games dealing with this particular issue (Border Patrol, Tropico (I-IV), ICED!, Rescate: Alicia Croft, and Papers, Please). Finally, I will show how two commercial games produced mostly for entertainment purposes (such as Tropico and Papers, Please) can be more effective at mounting a procedural argument and, plausibly, at influencing players’ opinions on a particular issue than a “serious game” (such as ICED!). Based on this analysis, I propose to move beyond this distinction between entertaining and serious to focus on what is particular about videogames in general, that can make them into more efficient tools to disseminate ideas and provide players with more opportunities for experiential learning.
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