April 16, 2021

The video game that recreates the long journey of a Syrian migrant | Technology

The video game that recreates the long journey of a Syrian migrant | Technology



"Bury me, my love" is the translation of an Arabic expression used to say goodbye to a loved one when the circumstances of life force us to separate and take different paths. Its meaning could be reproduced in a phrase like "Take care of yourself. I love you and I do not want you to die before me. " It is the message that the young Syrian woman Dana received from WhatsApp when she decided to flee the war that broke out in the country where she was born, as reflected in the French newspaper Le Monde. And it's also the title of a video game inspired by this and other real refugee stories, which unfolds as a fictional chat conversation between a migrant woman and her husband from the moment she leaves Syria.

The goal is to help this woman, whose name is Nour, in the decisions she has to make in order to reach Germany, the destination she has chosen to build a better life. To do this, you have to choose between different options a response from her husband Majd to what she is telling him about what happens during the trip. According to what is answered, the path of the protagonist can take different courses. The game, developed by the French studio The Pixel Hunts and the agency Figs and co-produced by the television channel ARTE, has been launched this month for the Nintendo Switch and for computers. A version of Bury me, my love It is available since October 2017 for iOS and Android mobile devices.

Nour's journey begins on September 20, 2015, when the woman decides to leave Homs, the city of Syria where she lives with Majd. She has just lost her younger sister, the last remaining family member, and she wants to look for luck in Europe. He can not run away with his wife, because after the father's recent death he is the only one who can take care of his mother and grandfather. That's why the two have to separate. To maintain contact, both buy a smartphone with which they can communicate via chat.

The game is available for Nintendo Switch, computers and iOS and Android devices

"The game is designed so that anyone accustomed to sending messages or making calls with a mobile phone can try it", explains Florent Maurin, developer of Bury me, my love. "The interactions are very simple, but they pose an interesting challenge," he says. Among the possible answers that can be chosen are text messages, emoticons, drawings that represent photographs and selfies.

As in the case of many refugees who actually flee their countries, along the road to Europe Nour can be exposed to harsh and dangerous situations, such as suffering an attempt to defraud a smuggler, run out of money or find a closed border . Maurin warns that Bury me, my love It is not suitable for children. "There are quite intense scenes, although they are only reflected in text messages. It is designed for teenagers and adults, "he explains.

19 different possible endings of the story

The developer ensures that the game foresees 19 different possible endings. Nour can finish both in Germany and in countries such as Turkey, France, Italy or Austria, depending on the decisions you make, the circumstances you find and the suggestions that the user provides. "The player can only choose between things that Majd would say to Nour," he explains. "This means that you do not have the power to control everything that happens and that the decisions you make can have unpredictable consequences. It is a game based on injustice, "he adds.

The version for Nintendo Switch and computers provides that the gaming experience has no interruptions, while the one that is available for iOS and Android devices is developed in real time, that is, it can be interrupted if the protagonist has to temporarily stop using the mobile for some reason. In this case, a notification will notify the user when the conversation can be resumed.

This difference makes the first version can be completed in between one or two hours, while the second can last "up to a week", according to the creator of the game. Bury me, my love (The original English title is Bury me, my love) is available at 4.99 euros on the Nintendo online platform for the download in the Switch console. In Steam, a platform for computer games, is offered at the same price. In Google PlayY Itunes It's worth 3.49 euros. The game is available in English, French, Spanish, German and Italian.

A long documentation job

Maurin, who before working in the world of video games worked for a decade as a journalist, explains that the design of the game has required him and the rest of the team that has done a great job of prior documentation. "We have spent three months consulting general and specialized press reports, NGO reports, documentaries and other sources on the subject of refugees," he says. In particular, the developer highlights the importance of the collaboration with the journalist Lucie Soullier, author of the article of Le Monde Le voyage d'une migrante syrienne à travers son fil Whatsapp, which tells the real story of the young Syrian woman Dana through conversations with her relatives.

The reporter put the team of developers in contact with this refugee, welcomed in Germany. Dana, who does not want to publicly reveal her full name, did agree to supervise the writing phase of the videogame script. Thanks to the possibility of interacting with her, says Maurin, it was possible to get better in the skin of people who live experiences like his and reflect those experiences in the fiction of the game. "Carrying out this project would have been impossible without being able to contact people directly involved in such life stories," he says.

Animation cinema and theater to represent the drama of refugees

The launch of the video game Bury me my love for Nintendo Swicth and computers was presented this Wednesday in Madrid. The event was also used to talk about other communicative formats useful to represent dramas like the Syrian refugees.

Cynthia Miranda, director of the theater company Voilà Producciones, explained that her latest work, entitled Pilgrims, mixes the language of animation with theater to tell the story of a six-year-old girl who has to flee from Syria. The protagonist is represented by a puppet of 1.1 meters.

Miranda said that the goal is to present this dramatic reality in different levels of reading so that its representation can be used both for children and adults who accompany them. The work uses images of recognizable reality, such as the child Aylan, a Syrian refugee who died on a beach in Turkey, creates allegories of them and surrounds them with "magical realism," he explained.

In this way, complex issues can be addressed to children "with care and respect," according to Miranda. "The most important thing is to raise their curiosity so that they ask questions about what happens even if they do not understand it at all," he added.

This work, which will be presented on a tour, has been made in collaboration with the Kamikaze Theater and the Spanish Commission for Refugee Aid (CEAR). Paloma Favieres, director of policies and campaigns of this NGO, said that, in her opinion, it is very important at present to encourage the dissemination of "truthful information" on topics such as that of refugees. "The world of culture is intimately linked with this task. Initiatives like this seem fundamental, "he said.

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