Mobile apps usually aim to entertain, inform or help us be productive. All in all, they usually don’t incite the Internet into political debate. But people have a lot to say about the pending iOS release of Owlchemy Labs’ instantly infamous game, Smuggle Truck: Operation Immigration.
Owlchemy Labs would have to be beyond clueless to think that Smuggle Truck wouldn’t spark up heated controversy. After all, the entire premise of the game involves navigating a rickety truck full of immigrants across what is purportedly the Mexican-American border. The more immigrants you transport alive, the higher your score, and crossing the border gives each saved immigrant a green card.
While Smuggle Truck’s official website says that the game takes a “satirical angle on a real issue,” many think that watching cartoon immigrants fall off a truck to be left stranded in a desert is far from hilarious. “I don’t think that people who are trying to emigrate into the U.S. think they are part of a game,” Patricia Montes, Executive director of Latino immigrant advocacy group Centro Presente, told Switched. “They do it because they are desperate.”
Smuggle Truck’s creators, however, insist that the game was created with only sympathy toward immigrants in mind. As the game’s website says, “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 statement goes on to assert that the game’s controversial subject matter serves to facilitate a larger political dialogue: “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.”
While greenlighting the game now lies in the hands of Apple, Smuggle Truck might have already accomplished its goal of stirring up the political pot and getting some press to boot.
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