A Mexican-American college student in Lamar, TX, has created a video game that vividly imagines what it’s like to cross the Texas/Mexico border—and, he hopes, cuts through all the noise of Donald Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric.
On his website, Gonzalo Alvarez, a 23-year-old senior at Lamar University, describes Borders as “a political art game," the purpose of which is to show “the dangers Mexican immigrants face in order to give the next generation a better future.”
In an interview with the Washington Post on Wednesday, Alvarez explained how the game draws upon his father’s experiences crossing the border—the long journey through the desert, the cacti, the moscos or “mosquitos” (the nickname for the border patrol surveillance helicopters), and a skeleton his father once encountered.
All of these elements are now a part of Borders, where players are migrants trying to stay hydrated as they cross the desert, avoid border patrol agents, and moscos lest they turn into one of hundreds of unnamed skeletons.
From the Post:
In the arcade-style installation of the game on display at Lamar University this month, each time a player dies, a skeleton pops up on the screen. It stays in the same location permanently, marking the place of death.
“There’s over 600 skeletons in the game now,” Alvarez said. “It kind of helps push the message of just how many unnamed skeletons there are in the Mexican desert.”
Alvarez started work on the game last spring, as Trump’s anti-immigrant message was building momentum across the U.S. His father and his mother were both, at one time, undocumented immigrants.
“Trump definitely made me kind of stand up and put my voice out there,” Alvarez told the Post.
An arcade version of the game is currently on display at Lamar University, but Borders can be accessed online through a download link on the game’s site.