As the world continues to struggle with the Syrian refugee crisis, one game studio wants to show a perspective from the refugee’s point of view.
Inner Void Interactive announced That Day We Left, a 3D adventure game for the PC and Mac. The Rome-based studio said today that its intent is to “provide a realistic view of the political and humanitarian issue that is the refugee crisis — from a refugee’s point of view,” according to a press release. This isn’t the first game about the civil war in the Middle Eastern country — Endgame: Syria did this in 2013 — but it differs with its focus on the refugee experience.
The studio did not provide a release date.
More than 4.5 million people have fled Syria since the civil war started in 2011. The crisis drew worldwide attention last year as some refugees fleeing the fighting died as they crossed the Mediterranean. Many others encountered roadblocks when they sought resettlement in Europe. Inner Void explores what these refugees went through, showing that video games are not only an entertainment medium but can convey experiences about hardship and war.
“That’s why we want our game to be a testament to the hardship found in all these stories. What’s happening now in Syria is terrible, but refugees have been coming here for as long as we can remember,” lead designer Nathan Piperno said in an email. “Obviously, there were less of them before, but the African continent has been anything but stable for a long time now. This is why many different people escape from it in the desperate hope of finding a new home, and this is why we want to tell their stories as well.”
While the team clearly cares about the refugee crisis, none of the studio members were refugees or had family who had fled warzones in the past. Piperno noted that some members of the team “have been directly involved with similar issues, like immigration or religious integration.
Players take on the role of Rashid. He leads his family in the dangerous journey from Syria to Europe. That Day We Left blends resource management with choices and narrative, which is based on the experiences that refugees have reported. The studio said that it “strives to present the human aspect of the crisis and depict characters that are fleshed out and believable.”
Inner Void mixed its narrative between reports from refugees and their own interviews.
“Most of the team lives in Italy, and we know a lot about immigrants and refugees because we’d seen waves of illegal immigrants arrive to the Italian coasts long before the Syrian crisis became a reality,” Piperno said. It was easy to find stories across the Internet or other media, but it was also easy to find refugees in our vicinity and go talk with them personally. Their stories were often full of horrifying details. We’re not only talking about Syrian refugees either, because there are also a lot of immigrants coming from many other countries ravaged by war, famine or intolerance.”
Inner Void Interactive’s first game, Icy, debuted last year after a successful Indiegogo campaign. The debut effort is a role-playing game set in a post-apocalyptic world dealing with a new Ice Age.
Updated 10:36 a.m. Pacific with comments from lead designer Nathan Piperno.