Critique: “Bury Me, My Love”

“Bury me, My Love” is a newly released, interactive smartphone game that tells Nour’s story as she flees Syria and attempts to reach Europe. Nour flees Syria after her younger sister dies due to the bombings in her hometown, Homs, Syria, and decides that she’s better off in Europe. She is married to Majd, who did not flee with her since his father had recently died and his mother and grandfather needed him to stay since they wouldn’t survive. Throughout the game you take Majd’s place and help her throughout her journey. The premise of the game is that Nour and Majd prepared her trip by studying maps, making lists of items she would need, and use their savings to buy two smartphones so that they could communicate. When Nour leaves for Europe, Majd hugs her, kisses on the forehead and says a Syrian farewell saying: “Bury Me, My Love”.

The game then focuses on her journey towards Europe while communicating with Majd. Throughout the game, Nour will communicate with you just as if you were chatting with he via WhatsApp and interact in a similar way as another app called Lifeline. She will ask you for advice and you will help her make important decisions. The game developers describe the game as a “reality-inspired interactive fictions”. The game is very much based on how people in real life might act, for example, she might hide things that happen from you, she won’t always do as you say and the communications occur in pseudo real-time. As a player, you won’t be able to reach her through the game if she is doing something that requires a few hours. The length of the game itself may also vary from just to a few hours, days, months, or even years. The game is based on a series of true stories but the characters and events are fictional. The developers of the game said “This story is about those who achieve that goal. It is about those who don’t. It is about those who die trying. It is about the world around us. Something which we hope will lead you to keep pondering on after it is over.”

The creators of the game are based in France and according to lead game designer Florent Maurin, one of the reasons they created the game was to “stress that, behind every migrant that you see on TV, there’s a story and there’s relatives that care about this person, people who miss this person.” In order to create a game that was true to Syrian refugee experience, they consulted with many of them while developing the game. The original idea was inspired from an article written by Le journalist Lucie Soullier. This article tells the story of Dana, a young Syrian woman who fled her country and is now living in Germany. Both Lucie Soullier and Dana are editorial consultants on the project according to game developers.

“Bury Me, My Love” was a co-production by The Pixel Hunt, Figs and ARTE France and was released on October 26, 2017. The game is rated for Ages 10+ and has 4.8 star ratings on Google Play while on the Apple store it is rated for ages 12+ with also 4.8 star ratings. It has also been translated to four other languages including, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. The overall intended audience of this game is the general public and anyone who is able to interact with the game. The cost of the game on both the App Store and Google Play is $2.99. The response from the public and gaming community has very overall extremely positive. I was unable to find many articles that talked about this game, but those that I did, all praised it and commended the developers for their work. It has even won the Developers choice award in the IndieCade Europe which is an independent games festival. I think that in respect to the objectives they had, it has been fairly successful. Many who play the game do report feeling more connected with the story and have had positive experiences with the game. They like that its very interactive while also making them reflect a lot on Nour’s journey. In terms of their reach, I think they could definitely improve since not many people know about the game. I personally like the set-up of the game, the way players interact, and do think that it has a lot of potential to raise awareness. With that said I think the game could improve in how it connects players to other resources they could use to help, such as making a donation to an organization, and also a way for them to learn more about the situation in Syria.