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:
- Full game (in Spanish):
- English expansion (includes the release mats and chance cards in English):
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.
- University of Miami eVeritas: Professor’s Board Game Helps Young Immigrants Plot Their Future, August 2014
- Immigrant Children’s Affirmative Network (ICAN) launched a new curriculum in Spring 2014 that includes playing Toma El Paso with the undocumented unaccompanied immigrant minors at His House, a juvenile facility in Miami Gardens, FL.
- The New Challenge awarded its grand grant prize of $10,000 in support of assessment and distribution of Make a Move and the design of additional immigration games.
- Lien Tran presented Gaming the System at Games+Learning+Society 8.0 in June 2012 and received an attendees vote award for “Most Surprising Findings.”
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.
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