Resilience is a humanitarian sci-fi city-builder that fosters empathy for displaced peoples and explores how the distribution of resources impacts civilian wellbeing in refugee camps.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), humanity is facing the “highest levels of displacement on record”. The UNHCR’s 2018 mid-year report calculated that there were over 70 million displaced people worldwide. Amidst these devastating, record-breaking numbers, the UNHCR is currently struggling to secure funding to keep pace with its increasing budget (in 2017, 43% of their budget went unfunded). This jeopardizes global peace and civilian safety, as refugee camps become overcrowded and dangerous for those who inhabit them and their occupants (including children, elderly, and disabled persons) risk their lives trying to flee their homes. We believe that this is a crisis that deserves attention and a solution—and that is why we are creating Resilience.
Resilience is a video game being developed for PC, Mac, and Linux in which players manage a refugee camp tucked away on a remote moon orbiting a wealthy intergalactic empire. The player assumes responsibility for managing the camp’s monthly budget and constructing facilities to maintain the wellbeing of a refugee population fleeing planetary disaster. As the game progresses, the budget tightens, the camp becomes more crowded, facilities wear down over time, resettlement opportunities grow scarce, and the challenge of the game intensifies. By putting the player in direct control of the camp’s resources and infrastructure, Resilience demonstrates the direct connection between the funding systems of aid organizations and their capacity to keep displaced groups healthy. Each of the game’s core mechanics were designed to reflect this intent. Players will speak with refugees to learn about their needs and stories, plan building construction, repairs, and upgrades, and arrange offers with foreign diplomats. Random events such as natural disasters, viral outbreaks, and unscheduled arrivals serve to disrupt even the most experienced managers, whereas donations and extra volunteers can have meaningful impacts throughout the camp. In the long tradition of social science fiction, Resilience de-contextualizes the specific circumstances of refugee populations from minority groups in our world in order to re-familiarize players with the universal suffering associated with being unhomed, left with nothing, and denied the resources and opportunities to survive.
Our goal is to foster empathy not only for refugees suffering in horrible conditions within camps, but also for the aid workers who struggle against monumental odds to improve their lives. We want to reach audiences who may be disconnected from these conflicts or who are unaware about the shortcomings of international aid infrastructures. Ultimately, the game’s takeaway is for players to adopt a more globalist and generous perspective and to motivate political action for change that will benefit refugees (such as voting for immigration reform or donating to aid organizations).