Saturday, February 12, 2011

Illegal Immigrants: Immigrant advocates slam "Smuggle Truck" app

(Video source: Smuggle Truck)

They’ve got to be kidding, right? An iPhone and iPad game app hasn’t even been released, but lots of critics are lining up to say this bandwagon has more controversial cargo than positive passengers.

Smuggle Truck: Operation Immigration is the name of the game. The objective: to smuggle as many immigrants across the border in the fastest time -- without bouncing any passengers out of the speeding vehicle. (Video from: Smuggle Truck)

Eva Millona, an immigrant advocate, says the border crossing issue is not something to make fun of. After watching the teaser, she told The Boston Globe...

MILLONA: "Last year, 170 human beings died crossing the border. It’s disgraceful that anyone would try to make money out of this tragedy by making light of it in a game ... I was almost in tears the way it turned tragedy into a joke.”

Immigration is a sensitive issue in the U.S., and some say this game is nothing compared to the violence in today’s popular video games like Grand Theft Auto and Halo. WFXT analysts say, what’s new?

“Is this a new thing? Are there standards with video games? I mean is this better or worse than a guy, you know, how many prostitutes you cut their heads off and throw them in the back of your truck. What game, what video game has standards anymore? ...It’s about as offensive as every other one I’ve seen and I don’t want my kids playing any of them.”

Want a different take? Fox News Latino features the comment of a Facebook fan who says the game actually makes the player a good Samaritan, not a baby-killer.

"I took it as .... you, as the driver of the truck, are 'helping' this group of people make it to a new place with better opportunities and trying to save as many children as you can along the way, but maybe that's because I'm an optimist."

The creators of Smuggle Truck take all this buzz, good and bad, as a sign that they’re bringing the immigration issue to the front lines, and blogging that the trailers just don’t do it justice.

“...[W]e’re glad to see a lot of chatter about the game as well as open discussion regarding the issues surrounding immigration. We understand how some could be offended having only seen a short snippet of a pre-release trailer and some screenshots.”

The game wasn’t meant to be offensive, at all, says Owlchemy Labs Co-Founder Alex Schwartz. The inspiration actually was borne from a difficult immigration situation of a Turkish-born Owlchemy co-partner.

"As we lived through a painful 12 months of our friend struggling through the absurd legal minefield that surrounds U.S. immigration, we felt that we should create a game that touches on the issue ... With a satirical angle on a real issue, 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."

To calm the complaints of national immigration agencies, Owlchemy says it’s already working on changing the depiction of the cartoon "immigrants" to look less Mexican. Smuggle Truck is set to release in March and will sell for around $3.

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