The Game ICED (standing for I Can End Deportation) is a role-playing video game about immigration launched by Breakthrough in early 2008.
The game puts the player in the role of an immigrant in the United States. The game highlights the limits on immigrants' rights which were a result of immigration laws passed in 1996. Players must avoid deportation by participating in community service and keeping a low profile. The characters in the game were based on real situations. ICED has also been a part of school curricula for better student understanding of legal and human rights issues.
The game is intended to show the unfair laws that detain and deport people without due process and respect for human right. These laws affect all immigrants:legal residents, those fleeing persecution, students and undocumented people.
The unfair laws include:
Deny due process and deport people without hearing.
Tie judges’ hands and prevent them from considering the circumstances of each individual case.
Impose extreme punishment for minor offenses
Hold immigrants in detention indefinitely
Game developers of the game want players to be aware of the situation and make some actions because when we let the government deny due process and human rights for some people, the freedom of the rest people are also at risk.
Inside the game players will play as one of five available characters. Each of the character have a unique background so the game can fit different population.
In order to show the cruelty of the real world, the fate of all five characters have been settled before the game started. No matter what the player do, the outcome of the end will not change. Among the five characters, four of them were deported at the end of the game and only Anna stay in US after 3 years jail time.
The selection of character won’t change the gameplay. Instead, it only changes the text when player got arrested and the ending of the game. So basically, the storytelling only appeared at beginning and the end of the game.
The ICED game is a general first-person game. Players use WASD and mouse to control their avatar moving around the environment. There are special points marked on mini map which will pop out a quiz when players getting close to it. Players have to make choices about what to do. If the player made the wrong decision, something bad will happen. Players have to try to make the right decision all the time because one single mistake may lead to fail of the game.
The game have two levels. In the first level, the city, the gameplay is simulating the life of an immigrant. When the player give a wrong answer to a quiz, the system will generate a police officer trying to catch the player. After the player answered all the quiz, they system will general many police officer at the same time trying to catch the player. Player fail the first level if they get caught, and they will be put into the second level.
However if the player succeed to avoid the police officer in a limited time and accomplished the first level, they will still be put into the second level.
In the second level, the game is trying to simulate the life of an immigrant in detention. If the player made a wrong decision in this level, they will be put into “the hole” and fail the game. If the player made all the right choices and stayed till the end, then they will face the proceeding time. The proceeding time is the part that gives the outcome of the character chose by players. However, what the players did inside the game will not affect the characters’ fate and the end for each character will stay the same.
The game is a first-person RPG. The controls are clearly labeled at the start of the game, and they are easy to understand. Players use QASD or arrow keys to move around, move mouse to look around, and SPACE to jump. The interface is very self-explanatory. The meaning of all the icons and numbers are labeled clearly. In the scenario, player can see two types of icons and NPCs all round, and he/she can trigger these icons simply by move close to them. And the mini-map at the right-top shows the location of all the events that can be triggered.
The game runs in a 3D environment. The graphics seems out dated because it’s an old game (before 2007), but it’s still helpful to let player act as characters who are in immigration issues walking in a city and immerse into the situation that police may caught you or you need to get out of the jail (legally). The game has versions for windows and MAC.
The game greatly helped players to learn more about immigration policies in America. According to the evaluation from CCT, an analysis of the paired pre/post knowledge scores for a group of 99 respondents revealed a mean score increase from pre to post game play: average 6 out of 12 correct at pre, 9 out of 12 correct at post.
Over half of the players changed their attitude about the ways in which immigrants are treated in America.
All in all, the game ICED served well for its original perpose that to teach people about the unfair treatments towards immigrants and showed a lot of relative knowledge at the same time. However, it still has many flaws need to be improved as a game.
- Winn, Brian. The Design, Play and Experience Framework. In R. Ferdig (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Effective Electronic Gaming in Education. Hershey, PA: IGI Global, 2009, pp. 388-401.
- Iuppa, Nick & Borst, Terry. End-To-End Game Development.
- Jim Diamond. Evaluation of Breakthrough’s ICED video game.
- Jessamyn Waldman. The I Can End Deportation Curriculum .