Teaching with videogames: dystopian narratives and 'Papers, Please'
Papers, Please is a fascinating 32-bit game that uses style, story and game mechanics where players experience the bureaucracy of evil as a passport control agent in a fictional cold-war setting.
In this lesson, we consider the way the game mechanics deepen a player's empathy for the character who is regularly forced to choose between evil choices and keeping their job. We also compare the experience of playing the game with dystopian film and television narratives.
Content note: the game contains themes and stories that will be confronting for any students with experience of immigration or refugee migration. Watch the trailer below or this collection of endings, read this review, and consider if the game is suitable for your students.
Year levels: Year 11, possible to adapt for year 10
Subject areas: Media
Technology involved: Papers, Please licence is $14.50, for this lesson we use around one licence per four students
NB. The game is 32-bit only and will not work on macOS 10.15 or higher at the time of writing
Download the full lesson plan
The lesson plan includes links to the Victorian Curriculum, indications of lesson timing, and ideas for differentiation and assessment.
In this lesson, students will
|1||Play the game Papers, Please, and consider the way game mechanics force a player to make "evil" choices|
|2||Analyse the narrative potential of a videogame and compare it with a film in a similar genre|
|3||Identify and analyse game mechanics|
|4||Compare audience experience in videogames and films|
By the end of this lesson, students should
|game and story mechanics|
|identify film and game differences|
|analyse and contrast the different ways players are affected|
|understanding of player choice narratives|
|analytical writing and speaking|