Last week I posted about a questionable online game on immigration issues that had just been added to former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s civics website (see Has Sandra Day O’Connor’s Site Just Added A Weird & Insulting Game On Immigration? Or Am I Being Too Sensitive?).
A few days I ago I sent the site an email encouraging them to look at the comments to that post and, because of those comments, they are making changes to the game. Here is what Jeff J. Curley, the Deputy Director of the site, wrote:
Thanks for your email about Immigration Nation. We’ve read through all of the comments, and we’re definitely open to making changes based on the constructive feedback. Designing a game for middle school students about current immigration law is obviously challenging. As evidenced by some of the posts, it’s very easy to politicize the topic. Our biggest realization is that the game may unintentionally trivialize those immigrants who are denied a path to citizenship. This came about because we did not want to put students in the position of making immigration decisions, which – while consistent with current policy – they might personally disagree with. We used silly humor to help the player differentiate legitimate requests from non-legitimate requests.
But we appreciate Kate, Bill, Kara, Agnes, and Clarissa’s comments about how this humor undermines the significance of anyone’s decision to immigrate. This was certainly not our intent, but we see how this might result in negative student perceptions about immigrants. Based on your comments and others on your blog, we plan to remove all scenarios where people are denied entry. We hope that will address the main criticism in the thread and improve the learning outcomes of the game – understanding the paths to citizenship in our country.
We work extremely hard to make our games nonpartisan and nonpolitical, and as Alice suggested, we try to “leave it to teachers as to whether they want a discussion about the politics behind” current policy. We are proud that iCivics games have been played more than 1.5 million times in just over year, and we have received less than a handful of complaints about political bias. We therefore take the comments on this thread very seriously.
Thank you for starting this dialogue, and please continue to let us know what you think of the iCivics games. We welcome feedback at http://www.icivics.org/contact
I appreciate the responsiveness of the site to this important issue…