Examine documents as an immigration officer to keep Arstotzka safe.
Papers, Please is a single-player “Dystopian Document Thriller” in which the player steps into the role of an immigration inspector in the fictional country of Arstotzka in the year 1982. As the player stands on the threshold between two different countries, a unique perspective of immigration and border security springs out of the mundane task of inspecting papers. On a second layer, the player must simultaneously provide for their family using the salary earned from the job, which pays based on how many people have been processed through in a day. Balancing border security with the needs of the family is uniquely human, creating a juxtaposition that is new and interesting.
Using only a mouse, players examine sets of papers presented by immigrants in search of discrepancies between the documents and the immigration rules set out by the Arstotzkan government. Depending on their country of origin and reasons for entering, immigrants may require different sets of papers, including entry tickets, government IDs, passports, and entry visas, each with its own set of seals and sets of information to identify. Once the player has finished examining a person’s papers, he/she drags the papers over to one of two large stamps – admit or deny – and stamps the verdict of the examination onto the person’s passport before handing it back across the counter.
Papers, Please asserts the potential of games to uncover new experiences and types of play. It was part of the Games for Change 2013 Festival Babycastles Hall of Fame.