App-alling or funny? ‘Smuggle Truck’ game faces bumpy road of public opinion

A proposed iPhone and iPad game that makes fun of illegal border crossings is under fire from advocates who don’t think the plight of immigrants is a laughing matter. The app, “Smuggle Truck: Operation Immigration,” lets players try to drive a pickup over rocky terrain without too many people bouncing out. Every so often, a newborn baby pops out of the truck and up into the air. Owlchemy Labs, the Massachusetts-based tech team behind the game, urges players to “enjoy hilarious physics-based driving gameplay while trying to transport your cargo over the border.” But the joke is lost on Thanu Yakupitiyage of the New York Immigration Coalition, who noted that 170 people died along the border last year. “This ‘game’ pokes fun and trivializes the harsh reality of our current immigration policy that leads to people putting their lives at stake and embarking on dangerous border crossings,” she said. After Owlchemy posted updates about Smuggle Truck on a Facebook page last month, even some of the company’s fans called for a boycott. “DISGUSTING,” posted Xochitl Quintero. “Yes I know it’s a game, but human suffering is no joke to me.” Owlchemy co-founder Alex Schwartz said his team was trying to make people aware of the absurdities of the country’s immigration system – and tapping into frustration about how long it takes for people to come to the U.S. legally. “We feel like there should be room for expression in this medium that can talk about this – but because we’re… [Read full story]

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