Rubber stamping someone’s life: on bureaucracy, immigration, and video games
What's it like to control the fate of another human soul? We tend to think of these decisions in dramatic terms, and video games often give us the ability to stand in judgment of virtual people. Do we kill them, or let them live? Which selection in the dialog tree represents my character?
The reality is that the people who have real power over others often work in dreary offices, and operate in systems that dehumanize those who come through the door.
Papers, Please is a disturbing look at the process of sorting people through an unforgiving system, and this article maks a good case for true evil being a banal, sloppy thing. We're often forced to put our fate in the hands of people who are just looking forward to lunch, but must process us like so many files. The stakes in these interactions can be frighteningly high.
This is a game that makes life and death decisions a normal thing, and that is somehow even more disturbing.