Episode 22: Freezing Rain and Dysentery on the Voter Suppression Trail

Unlocking Games
Unlocking Games
Episode 22: Freezing Rain and Dysentery on the Voter Suppression Trail

Voter Suppression Trail title screenWelcome back to season two!

We’re slightly shifting focus to social impact games: games that explore social issues like elections, climate change, homelessness, and immigration.

Each episode will evaluate the effectiveness of a different game. What was it trying to accomplish? Did it work? Our goal isn’t to take a stance on the issues or evaluate the accuracy of the games, but to examine how effective their design is at achieving their goals.

We’ll draw on the theories and ideas we talked about in past episodes, plus bring in new perspectives whenever we can.

We’re also going bi-weekly.

Since the 2017 Inauguration is a major event this week, our season premiere is on topic with Voter Suppression Trail. Released shortly before the 2016 Presidential election, this was the New York Times’ first stab at a video game editorial.

Borrowing liberally from Oregon Trail’s design style, Voter Suppression Trail puts you in the shoes of three potential voters: A white programmer from California, a Latina nurse from Texas, and a Black salesman from Wisconsin. Each of them has varying obstacles to overcome as they wait in line to vote.

What impact did it have on players? We think it was only partially successful in drawing attention to real electoral issues. Listen to the episode to find out why.

Games mentioned in this episode

Show Notes & Links