Gaming the (Immigration) System

Gaming the System is a practice-based exploration into how the pro bono legal community can use games to bridge the justice gap faced by detained undocumented immigrant youth and to increase their engagement in the pursuit of justice. Of the 8,000+ children detained within the U.S. each year, many are eligible for legal relief but are not guaranteed legal counsel. Immigration law is one of the most complex legal codes in the U.S., and it’s unjust that a child should have to navigate this labyrinth by himself without legal guidance. Games can make complex legal information accessible to a child so he can make more informed decisions and ask questions specific to his case.

In Make a Move, a game that teaches youth about the release from detention process, the mechanics provide tacit lessons detained youth do not always learn and yet should apply in real life.

Make a Move (Toma El Paso in Spanish) is available for purchase at The Game Crafter:

This project was originally created in partnership with Shalyn Fluharty, an immigration attorney in New York. The game is now being used as part of the Immigrant Children’s Affirmative Network (ICAN) curriculum at the University of Miami. Thank you to Julie and Diego at Americans for Immigrant Justice for your help in confirming the final content.



Gaming the System was the culminating thesis project for Lien’s MFA in Design + Technology at Parsons. Here’s a short video putting the project into a greater context.

[vimeo width=”600″ height=”365″ video_id=”41509044″]


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