So this week my art game, Borders, a game about immigration, was finally installed as an art installation at Lamar University’s Art Department till March 3rd!
Although I created this game last year, it was updated to work as a public installation to not only exhibit video games as an art form, but expose people to the dangers Mexican immigrants face trying to cross the border.
This was a first time art game event for not only Lamar University, but SETX , and has really been getting more coverage than I expected! This is a non-profit art installation and I am glad that it has been covered on LU’s newspaper, LUTV,and the Beaumont Enterprises’s Cat5 column! *if you’d like to read the interview with the press you can check it out here*
Continue below to see pictures and information about the art installation’s purpose, for those who have not been able to (or cant) make it!
In the game players attempt to cross the border while avoiding La Migra (border patrol) and staying hydrated. The place where every player dies is permanently recorded into the video game’s world and the arcade machine, represented by a skeleton.
The goal was to publicly install this game and have as many people as possible play the game to expose them of what its really like to cross the border while building up a mass grave a skeletons. As of now there are over 400 skeletons in the game, created by the people who played the game and died. These will symbolically live on in the machine as a physical memorial to those who didn’t make it. If you do happen to cross the border you are met with a hopeful image of a bright city in a sunset as well as putting down your name in the leader boards which serves to commemorate those who made it.
For those who want a bit more information on gameplay mechanics:
The game is a simple top down stealth game where you hide in bushes to avoid the border patrols area of sight. As you move your water meter will slowly drain and must pick up water bottles to refill it. The desert is a hot place so many die of heat exhaustion and people really do leave water jugs behind for those trying to cross the border so it was the perfect game mechanic to place in. The only goal is to make it to the end of the level, which is the border, but it definitely is not easy. There are helicopters, “the mosquitos”as they are called, the heat, and the border patrol to stop you along the way.
Crossing the border is in majority of cases more of a need than a simple want. The poverty levels in Mexico and dangerous situations with the drug cartel and other violence’s forces people to leave or perish. This is largely the poor population and legally entering is something almost reserved for the wealthy. My parents had to cross over, not in a game, but in real life and I am a testament of them accomplishing that task. They did so because they wanted to give me a brighter future and opportunities I wouldn’t have had in their home country. They are hard working citizens and because of them, I am able to provide this web post along with all my other efforts.
This installation is intended to provide players with a new perspective on the lives of immigrants and to present the video game medium as a powerful art form. Coming from a traditional education in fine arts, I have been able to hopefully conceptualize something meaningful and translate it into a video game, which has its own rules.
I hope that through this project people may look at their neighbors with more sympathy and as well see what the potential of interactive art forms can be. If you want more information on this just check out the interview linked up above!
Download for free and or donate towards Borders at: gonzzink.itch.io/borders