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I haven’t done video games in a while! I play them all the time but rarely feature them on The Arts!, which is a bit uncanny but, meh, let’s get into it!


All horror games are pretty much the same nowadays: Play as a White person. Guide yourself by dim light via candle light, flashlight or lantern. Get jumpscared a ton at every twist and turn. Detention is definitely not that.

Detention is an atmospheric horror game set in 1960’s Taiwan under martial law. It’s scariness is not in the jumpscares that are fairly common in horror games today but in the look and feel of play. There are various religious elements that are based in Taiwanese and Chinese culture and mythology, which really helps the game stand out from being just another scary game.

This game is historically accurate and very artistically intriguing. The atmosphere is haunting but not hyper formulaic, everything is visually stunning and the fear isn’t the jumpscare (which are very few) but the history it derived from, the White Terror – Taiwan’s martial law. The rhetoric behind the White Terror, how it was incredibly oppressive. The fear is from how they affected the world around them, not garden-variety jumpscares and intense gore.

The game is a Point and Click where you first play as a Taiwanese boy going to school but you play the rest of the game as a young Taiwanese girl. There are plenty of Chinese loaded into the game but it is well translated so no need to worry. I can read Chinese but the English explanation are just as seamless.

Now available on Steam.

Papers, Please/Here’s Your F*cking Papers
This is a twofer: Papers, Please and the response game Here’s Your F*ckin Papers. Both games are about the hardships of immigration, seen on both sides.

Papers, Please puts you in the shoes of an immigration processing official of fictional nation, Arstotza. Most people, you have to deny because of super arbitrary rules, such as suddenly needing a new type of voucher that has a super short expiry date that can easily go bad.

The game is a fairly straightforward desk job sim. You simply play border control and you need a sharp eye so you don’t let in anyone that should have been denied. The issue with this game is how unfeeling it makes you towards immigrants, sometimes getting an “eh, everyone has an excuse – keep moving! Next!” feeling. If anything, this is a game that looks at bureaucracy and how cold, hypocritical (abysmally paid but expected to keep up a large family or be replaced) and unfeeling. There are 20 endings to choose from but all in all, it’s simply one side of the coin.

As anyone can hopefully imagine, emigrating to another nation is not easy. It’s not like you get clear cut directions, available in countless languages and there’s a super short line to stand in, where all your papers are neatly processed, stamped and passed back to you in a well assembled folder after paying a small fee. One of my parents is an immigrant, I can tell you the Green Card Shuffle is stressful, expensive, annoying and full of absolute, bona fide bullsh*t. And it’s amazingly easy to fall into “undocumented” status, even if you do everything right – which is insanely hard to do. Can’t pony up $6k in a few months? Undocumented. Forgot to get some super obscure holdover form from the Reagan era stamped or with the correct seal? Officially “illegal”. Couldn’t reprocess your papers in time because you didn’t know your green card evaporated when the parent who brought you as a kid died? Sucks to be you, dude. Trump says something stupid and both ICE and Immigration follows through? Lolz, fill out some more papers and pay more thousands of dollars you suddenly have to satisfy or everything you did and paid is officially null and void – and you won’t see a penny returned. Immigration is burdensome, expensive and just plain painful.

Out comes, Here’s Your F*cking Papers, which captures that frustration.

The game is not as flashy as Papers, Please there are stick figures and real life images hastily placed as if a near rudimentary Newgrounds game. Compared to Papers, Please, Here’s Your F*cking Papers appears very elementary (I’m used to response games being very similar in aesthetics) but it gets the point across: Immigration is a struggle and it is moreso through design than through happenstance the extreme difficulties of getting even basic citizenship or refuge.

Papers, Please is available on Steam. Here’s Your F*cking Papers is available on the dev’s, Creatrix Tiara, game page.

In other News! I will be teaching a cartomancy workshop at the Dawtas of the Moon convention in Baltimore, MD on Oct 20. Please get your tickets now!