A violent game is playing with you In almost every report about the praxis of illegal Pushbacks in Greece across the Evros/MeriçBorder and in the Aegean Sea
A violent game is playing with you
In almost every report about the praxis of illegal Pushbacks in Greece across the Evros/MeriçBorder and in the Aegean Sea there is a section dedicated to the explanation of pushbacks' structure and similar stages respondents have experienced. This structure appears to be well-established, planned, and continuously repeated. As claimed by Niamh Keady-Tabbal (2018), ‘Often, it seems like the two countries are playing a violent game of ping-pong across the Aegean with migrant bodies’. If pushbacks are seen as a violent game, which is played with migrants bodies, it is then possible to communicate their brutal mechanism throughout a complicated, unfair and frustrating board game?
Through the game, stories and testimonies of asylum seekers, victims of pushbacks, are told. At the same time also the dynamics by which pushbacks are carried out by the authorities, the legal violations they entail, and the different elements and figures migrants encounter on their journey to seek asylum in Europe are explained. Thanks to the in-game immersion, players gradually understand the insidious dynamics that make up the act of a pushback, and develop empathy for the migrants’ situation. At this point, the game creates a room for discussion and exchange of experiences, raising awareness about the topic.
The migration process is different for every human and is heavily influenced by several factors, like health condition, financial capacity, language knowledge, country of origin, gender, environmental influences and luck. These factors are integrated into starting cards which are randomly drawn before the game.
The starting cards are always reassembled, including the factors mentioned above. And thus it depicts a diverse scenario in which discriminating factors can overlap. And so new prerequisites for the asylum claim are generated, enabling a large range of starting positions.
During the course of the game the players are presented with various obstacles, which force them to go back and forth on the board. In order to be granted International Protection, which corresponds to the last step within the game, players must roll the right combination of numbers with the dice. Players also have the possibilities to take decisions without knowing consequences they will face.
After some rounds, players feel like it is the board game playing with them and not them playing with the board game, as pushbacks are a violent game executed by authorities, which are playing with migrants, seriously affecting their lives and depriving them of their Human Rights.
Regarding the fact that the board game is open source, and the focus is on the content itself, its design tries to find a balance between being humble and unobtrusive, and still visually interesting.
In order to make the topic of pushbacks as accessible as possible, a website will be created where people can get information about the project. If you are interested, you can contact us and if it is certain for what purpose the game will be used, we will provide the documents free of charge. The cards still need to be printed but no special materials are necessary.
The project needs a suitable context in order not to be misunderstood. Possible applications would be: a low-threshold introduction in a workshop on pushbacks, a tool for NGOs to raise awareness on the topic and as part of a critical lesson. Therefore, the next steps are to acquire methods of knowledge transfer and to develop the game further. In addition, the content will be translated into French, Spanish, Arabic and German in the future.
We also want to increase visibility for the topic of migration and especially for pushbacks and see the potential of the game in that it starts discussion, informs and makes people think. Moreover, no special prior knowledge is needed.