Didactic classification of the digital game “Papers Please”

In Papers Please, players slip into the role of a border official in a fictitious state. The Center for Didactic Computer Game Research at the Freiburg University of Education has written a classification of the game.

About the digital game

“Papers, Please is set in 1982 in the fictional state of Arstotzka, which has made peace with the neighboring state of Kolechia after a six-year war. You play a citizen of Arstotzka who has been assigned the job of a border guard in the divided city of Grestin. The player’s task is to check the papers of people entering Arstotzka from Kolechia. The requirements placed on the player change almost daily. The player receives a salary for the correct issue of entry permits and a fine for false refusals or false entries. From this salary, the player must pay rent, food and, if necessary, medicine for his family. The structure of the game forces the player to work quickly while remaining completely error-free. Situations repeatedly arise at the border that require the player to make a decision: People regularly approach the player with special requests, some of them private individuals, but also various secret organizations.”

The game costs 9.75 euros on Steam (as of 01/2024).
The game is available for the following platforms: PlayStation, Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS and Android.
Due to the subject matter, an age rating of 12+ is recommended.

About the didactic classification

The Center for Didactic Computer Game Research at the Freiburg University of Education has written a classification of how this game can be used in a didactic context:

“The framework developed by the game in the field of tension between the individual and state authority offers starting points for various school subjects: in history, for example, historical references to the 20th century and the Cold War could be highlighted. In ethics, it is possible to use the game as a thought experiment and look at the decisions made by the players. For politics lessons, the reference to socialism is particularly interesting, as are current questions about how state actors protect their borders.”

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