Social Media Narrative:
The Rutgers Camden Digital Studies Center
Facebook, November 16 - 21, 2016
NYU Arts Professor Marco Williams is an award-winning documentary and nominated fiction film director. His directing credits include: The Undocumented (2013), Inside the New Black Panthers (2008), Banished (2007), Freedom Summer (2006), I Sit Where I Want: The Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education (2004), MLK Boulevard: The Concrete Dream (2003), Two Towns of Jasper (2002), Making Peace; Rebuilding our Communities (1995), The Pursuit of Happiness: With Arianna Huffington (1994), Without A Pass (1992), In Search of Our Fathers (1991), From Harlem To Harvard (1982).
Reflecting on my on-line game The Migrant Trail
While there are plenty of games about killing, few games address the reality of death. Through repetition and forced choices, when killing yields survival and achieves winning, games run the risk of trivializing death. But to truly tackle certain content, death needs to be part of the gameplay. The question becomes: How do you represent this delicate issue?
When I first conceived the game, it was met with much resistance. Few funding people wished to support a 'game' that highlighted death, particularly deaths along the U.S. - Mexico border; a game that calls attention, indirectly to the United States immigration policy. I was only able to get support when I agreed to also present game play also from the perspective of a border patrol agent.
The Migrant Trail asks players to experience a perilous border crossing through the eyes of various migrants as they make - and in many cases don't make - the journey across the Sonoran desert into the U.S. Death is a central theme in that journey and it is used throughout the game to highlight the starkness of the choices migrants face.
The true goal of the game is not to highlight death, per se, but to create empathy.
I welcome your thoughts on whether the digital frame has the potential to create empathy and whether a game about death can do the same.
Transcript of The Migrant Trail conversation