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Inside the Japanese American Internment
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Inside the Japanese American Internment

by tfickle


Web Site

(based on 1 rating)
1 review

About the Story

It's 1941, and you're a member of the most despised group in all of America: the Japanese. This game takes you inside one of the darkest chapters in U.S. history: the Japanese American internment, in which over 100,000 Japanese, many of them American citizens by birth, were evacuated from the West Coast and imprisoned en masse in "relocation centers" across the midwest.

While many people think about the internment as a situation that, by denying internees their most basic civil rights, effectively stripped them of their ability to control any aspect of their lives, this game forces you to realize that in fact the internment was all *about* decision-making. At every turn, internees were bombarded with dilemmas: whether to answer "yes" or "no" to a loyalty questionnaire; whether to join the growing resistance movement or stay quiet; whether to throw one's lot in with one's country or one's race. There were rarely any satisfying answers to these questions; indeed, the very fact that internees had to answer them at all speaks to how profoundly unjust was the government's decision to imprison them.

For the content and characters of the game, I've drawn on a broad range of historical and literary sources, especially the Supreme Court case of Fred Korematsu, and John Okada's novel "No-No Boy." Doing so will, I hope, allow players to experience a world which is at once mundanely real and terrifyingly strange--just as it was for the internees themselves. I also hope that it will expose some of these very important novels and works to a much broader audience.

In the current version (v1.1), you play as Freddy Suzuki, a 25 year old welder from Oakland, California. My hope, however, is to greatly expand this game so that players can experience the diversity of perspectives and personalities found among the interned population. Specifically, my next goal is to flesh out a female character who, largely because of the gendered policies surrounding military enlistment requirements, reveals how interned women were subject to an entirely different set of expectations than their male counterparts--the same is true for the difference between Nisei (second generation) and Issei (first generation) internees.

Ultimately, I'd like to create two different versions of this game: first, the gamebook you're viewing now, and second, a text adventure which literally maps out the internment, especially its regimented "relocation centers," and allows players to explore and to experience its boundaries. In order to do so, however, I'm trying to figure out a way to make a text adventure that relies less on object-retrieval-and-utilization for its endgoal. Any suggestions, or interest in collaboration, would be most welcome. (This is my first game, so apologies in advance for any bugs!)

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Number of Reviews: 1
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
History Project, March 22, 2015
by Sam Kabo Ashwell (Seattle)

A school-project-feeling piece about an important topic; incomplete. At least in the early game, the writing has a tone of terse, bored diligence about it:

You step off the bus and are greeted with a sign: “Central Utah War Relocation Center.” There’s barbed wire everywhere, and a bunch of barracks. This is it. You’re now a prisoner in an internment camp.

However, once you get past the relatively weighty decisions during the war itself, the experience shifts somewhat; you develop a host of connections to family and friends that were never mentioned before, and the writing takes on a more descriptive (sometimes over-wordy) quality.

It occupies that uncomfortable space in between first-hand personal account and impersonal factual account. I found myself uncertain about lots of details of accuracy; I think it would have been stronger with inline quotes from primary sources, or at least a bibliography. The author suggests that they’re aiming to expand the work with (among other things) a parser-based section of the camps themselves, which may go some way to explaining why this section is so minimal.

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