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Against All Odds: Political Refugee Game

Against All Odds: Political Refugee Game

Written by Linda Biondi
August 27, 2010

Against All Odds, is an online serious  game that was developed by UNHCR to teach adolescents about the plight of political refugees. This forty-five minute web-based game is targeted for children in middle and high school.

While playing the game, the player takes the role of a refugee who is persecuted, forced to leave his native country, and finally seeks asylum.  There are twelve steps that the player takes in this game. The first four deal with escaping; the next four with trying to establishing refugee status in a host country; and the final four trying to adjust to life in a new land. As the player travels from step to step, simulations of obstacles that are faced by real life refuges, such as language barriers and intolerance, are interwoven into the game. From a “gamers’ perspective”, most of the “action” is only seen in the third act, in which you can use arrow keys to evade the police and leave the area. Most of the “action” in the other steps is based on multiple choice responses or clicking on-screen to read what happens or what characters are thinking.  For some students who are used to being active participants  in online games with “bells and whistles”, this game may seem tedious. However, it is a game that is worth sharing with your students. It does not trivialize the plight of the refugees, but the slow pace allows for reflective thought and analysis of what is happening.

UNHCR offers links to free educational materials for teachers of grades 4-12, including lesson plans, magazines, videos, and simulation activities. Each step of the game includes a detailed lesson plan with an awareness exercise, comprehension exercise, interactive exercise, and discussion questions. The game is free and does not require downloading.  

As you play the game, step by step, the question pervades:  Can you survive?

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