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    dkirschner's Papers, Please (PC)

    [April 2, 2017 04:37:06 PM]
    Unexpectedly finished quickly. I got 4 or 5 of the possible 20 endings (being put in jail and executed for treason, successfully escaping to a nearby country, entire family dead, in jail for shooting a civilian...). The game continued putting pressure on to break the government's rules. I was offered bribes for various reasons, whether to help an opposition political group, to sell a watch I was entrusted to keep, to let someone through without proper documentation, etc. I see how these are supposed to be tough decisions, but maybe because I first ended the game when my entire family died, I wasn't real sympathetic to anyone claiming that they'd be killed if I didn't let them through, or they feared the checkpoint would be closed next time. If my character had no family, I'm sure I would have helped strangers more because I wouldn't be worried about taking care of my own.

    I learned not to flaunt my wealth. At one point I took a lot of money from someone and moved into a nicer apartment. My neighbors immediately reported me for my newfound wealth and I came under investigation. My savings was taken and I had to move back into a super cheap apartment. I wonder if the game can be completed after moving into a nice apartment. Just take other bribes (not the super big one that I took), and get real efficient with processing paperwork and it's probably doable. Is there yet another better apartment to move into later? What are the benefits? Just social status?

    It's interesting how rules compound the job. It becomes more and more time-consuming to process paperwork the more rules there are. And the more international incidents there are, the more rules there are, but also the more people seeking entry. But the more rules there are, the more likely you are to make a mistake. By the end of the game there are two pages of rules to follow. But you still need to work swiftly because you have to pay for rent, food, and heat. But if you work too swiftly and make mistakes, you get fined. What a juggling act.

    Papers, Please! made me think about immigration and politics. That's awesome. I want to know more about the developer, and I wonder if this game gets used in classes to illustrate the difficulty of setting and enforcing immigration policy.
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    [April 1, 2017 09:42:11 PM]
    What a strange game! I knew it was going to be different, but I wasn't prepared for quite what it asks me to do, that is, make strenuous decisions as fast as possible by scanning documents.

    I imagine I'm better at this game than most people. As a long-time copy editor and writer, I'm adept at finding consistency issues within and between documents. Nonetheless, my immigration checkpoint supervisor just informed me that I had 21 violations. 21. I don't know who I am anymore.

    Oh wait, I'm an immigration officer in a fictional Eastern European communist country in the early 80s. As local and global events happen (terrorist attacks, murders, worker strikes, etc.) my instructions for who to target and how to check documents changes. In fact, it becomes ever more complicated with more rules, exceptions, and technology.

    I have to process as many people as possible each work day, and I get $5 per person processed. But if I make too many mistakes, I get fined $5 at a time ($10 if I really fudge up). I've struck a deal with a police officer, and I get a kickback for every couple people I detain. That is, some discrepancies between documents (e.g., mismatched ID numbers) can have severe penalties for the unfortunate person seeking entry.

    I have to work as fast as possible because I'm supporting a family of 5. (Why none of them work, I have no idea. Oh wait, I'm taking employment for granted. But wait, isn't there low unemployment in communism? Or is that just the ideal?) I have a wife and child, a mother-in-law, and an uncle. I need to set aside money for rent each day, plus I have the option of paying for heat and food (and medicine when someone gets sick). I actually played through the game once and only lasted 7 days because my entire family died. This second time around though, I'm doing much better. I had like $30 on day 10 or something (I'd been broke since like day 3 the first time) and actually someone gave me $1000 (there's some shady political resistance stuff going on) that I will probably get in trouble for.

    It's a really interesting game because you have to go fast, but you've got motivation to do the job carefully to some extent to avoid fines, but also to detain people. And every so often some sort of special character will come through that you need to look out for. And it gets more and more tedious. For example, just now, people have started forging seals on official documents, so I have to check images of seals now too. And I was threatened for not playing by the rules of this sinister political organization (I denied entry to one of their members without realizing it). And my inspector will return in a few days to check on my accuracy.

    I can set aside moral qualms about type 1 and type 2 errors since I'm in a game frame, but I would prefer that my family not get sick and die, as that is an end game state and is reminding me of the anxiety-inducing This War of Mine. One thing that is driving me crazy though, and that is genius, is that the game penalizes you for not catching discrepancies in all sorts of minor details, like the person's sex. So you have to look at the person, look at their name, determine sex, and compare to what's written in their passport. I got fined a couple times for getting it wrong, and was thinking that I was just misinterpreting. Then a man showed up and gave his reason for immigration "to be with my husband." I'm thinking, "ooooh, this is the point of the rigid sex categorization." I let him in and I got fined for a sex mismatch. Since he had a husband, he should have been a woman, but everything in his info was masculine. That's homophobic communist and authoritarian countries for you. You've got to follow the logic of the game. Then the next time, I caught a sex discrepancy and interrogated the person. (If you use a machine to check information against other information and find something invalid, you can interrogate). The person said they didn't know what I was talking about, so the option came up to do a body scan. Holy crap. So you see in the scan that the self-identified male appears not to have a penis, and therefore, is lying, and so must be detained. The handling of sex has been the most jarring thing about the game. I look forward to seeing what other tricks of social commentary it has up its sleeve.
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    dkirschner's Papers, Please (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Saturday 1 April, 2017

    GameLog closed on: Sunday 2 April, 2017

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    A bit intense, but tedious. Supposed to be I guess. ---------- Very thought-provoking. Really like it.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

    Related Links

    See dkirschner's page

    See info on Papers, Please

    More GameLogs
    other GameLogs for this Game
    1 : Papers, Please (PC) by BrittanyG (rating: 5)
    2 : Papers, Please (PC) by ryancornellier (rating: 4)


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