Papers Please is This Year’s Most Innovative Game

Papers Please is This Year’s Most Innovative Game


Papers Please Named the Most Innovative Game at Games for Change 2014

Drum roll, please!  And the winner of this year’s 2014 Most Innovative & Best Gameplay Award at Games for Change Festival is…  “Papers Please” by Lucas Pope.  Yes, this year’s big award winner of serious games focuses on border patrol.  But why would it be selected as the winner?

Surprisingly, this game focuses on more than just the realities of being an immigration inspector who is enforcing border control.  This serious game also has a “social impact” side, which can be used by parents to teach their children three important life lessons.


Realities of Low-level Employment

In this game, you are an immigration inspector, who earns a low salary and has a family to support.  It is a hard life.  Everyday, it is the same thing.  You check paperwork, inspect luggage, and search individuals.  Even though boring and repetitive at times, it is an important job that can be challenging and even dangerous at times.  For parents, it is an opportunity to give their children a first hand experience of the realities of low-level employment.


Test of Ethical Values

As is common in border control, there are individuals who will offer a bribe to the immigration inspector to let them through.  In one scenario, you have a sick child at home, who needs a medical treatment that you can’t afford on your low paying salary.  When you are offered a bribe, do you accept it and risk being caught and fined yourself?   Again, this is a great opportunity to help children think through their ethical values when tested with tough decisions.


Consequences of Individual Choices

Every decision an immigration inspector makes has a wider range of consequences than just the present moment.  A woman says that her life is in jeopardy and needs to cross to reunite with her husband.  Is she lying?  Do you let her through without any papers?  What if she goes back to face her death because of your decision?  What if you let her through and are fined for not ensuring that she had papers?  Again, this is a great opportunity to demonstrate the wide reaching consequences of little everyday decisions that we all make.


According to a USA Today article, the Games for Change Festival is

an earnest attempt to figure out how video games could become tools for education, health and social change.

And this year’s big award winner has definitely focused on educating us on some very important social issues. Take a peek at some gameplay in the video below. It’s available for $9.99 on Mac and PC .


Need help with behavioral science and gamification? Get in touch with our boutique consulting agency Dopamine.