Earlier this week, the New York Times released The Voter Suppression Trail. The politically-charged Oregon Trail-inspired mini-game has players fight off long lines and intimidating “observers” to finally vote, and describes certain hurtles some US voters will face on November 8.
In the game, you can go and vote as a white programmer from California, a Latina nurse from Texas or a black salesman from Wisconsin. Cross-town bus rides, sick kids, angry bosses, freezing rain and voter system malfunction all threaten your ability to vote – if you opt to be the Latina woman or African-American man. In one sequence, when you eventually enter the polling station, election “observers” attempt to intimidate you, pursuing you with insults. If you can’t dodge them with arrow keys, your vote dies.
The Californian white programmer, on the other hand, “strolls” into his polling location and casts his ballot after no difficulties and just a minute or two. It’s an urgent game that is unashamed about its politics and intention.
“Some paths will be more intrepid than others, particularly for blacks, Latinos and pretty much anyone who brings the kind of diversity to our polling places that they have historically lacked. Thanks to laws passed by Republicans to fight the nonexistent threat of voter fraud, the perils will be great. Long lines and voter ID laws, not to mention pro-Trump election observers, will try to keep these voters from the polls,” the Times explains.
Recently, Businessweek reported that an unidentified senior Trump official was open about the campaign’s approach to voter suppression. He said, “We have three major voter suppression operations underway,” which Businessweek explains are “aimed at three groups Clinton needs to win overwhelmingly: Idealistic white liberals, young women and African-Americans.” Similarly, Politico reports that several alt-right and white nationalist collectives, including the KKK and the American Freedom Party, are planning aggressive election day actions.
The Voter Suppression Trail is the first video game from the Times‘ Op-Docs section. At its end, it offers to help US players find their nearest polling station.