Stop me if you've heard this one before: Game developers are building a game that has various advocacy groups worked up before it's even released. In this particular incident of this all too familiar news story, immigration advocates are up in arms over the upcoming game Smuggle Truck by Owlchemy Labs, creators of Super Ramen BROTHers [Free]. In the game, players take control of a pickup truck loaded with illegal immigrants attempting to cross the US border. Looking at the trailer, gameplay seems similar to a amped up version of Mr. Onions, a seemingly similar physics-powered platforming game that I had a great time with.

News of this hit the Associated Press yesterday, which really couldn't possibly be better for Owlchemy Labs as it seems like everyone (ourselves included) is feverishly republishing this story in one form or another. The good news is, not everyone is taking this so seriously, as thankfully there are still some people in this world who can differentiate video games from reality. The very same Associated Press story also includes the following very choice quote from Steve Kropper, co-director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Immigration Reform:

"In America, we are used to trivializing everything," said Kropper. "I think 'Smuggle Truck' will do to the immigration debate what 'Angry Birds' did to ornithology."

If all goes as planned, Smuggle Truck should be available in March.

  • BazookaTime

    I am really looking forward to this game. The first time I watched the video I thought that some people might get bent out of shape over it but hopefully not enough to cause a delay in the release.

  • Bweetza

    I'm going to buy it just to piss off the advocy groups. Truck 'em if they can't take a joke.

  • xStatiCa

    Team Fortress has a mode that makes this look tame. It involves guns to keep them out.

    I have no issues with games like this. I am one for opening up our borders too instead of putting up walls.

    I will end up buying this for sure.

  • Ipelvicthurst

    They should also make a game about drug traffickers smuggling drugs over to the us the point of the game would be to get as many white f****** people addicted as possible to become one of the riches person in the country

    • Guest

      That game already exists: it's called "real life" and you can play it by moving to Ciudad Juarez. Hope this helps.

      • Animal2605

        Or how about moving to Arizona and in the right counties. I once came close to having to shoot three of them in real life to keep them out of my home. They tried to break in and it took me to drawing down on them with my 357 magnum to get them to leave. However, our lovely government officials in Washington DC say its getting better. I hope a version of this game comes out for PCs.

  • Andrzej Raczynski

    nice, hats off to them for the smart publicity 🙂

    sequel will be 'smuggle boat', for the southern florida neighbors, if they get ambitious, they could do 'smuggle freighter' for the neighbors west of cali.

    i personally don't have anything against these types of games, they're representative of reality.

    whitewashing the issue doesn't make it go away.

  • Tiberius

    Very interesting. I don't think the adaptation of Mr. Onions to immigrants is so innocent. But i'm very curious about game themes sensibilities and its relation with current issues. (For instance in Middle-east themed shooters, I wonder what would be the reaction about a game where guerrilla insurgents fight an invading army with ieds and ambushes.) Also dissapointing that parts of the game industry seems to play juvenile exploitations tactics for quick benefits, instead of building more compelling or innovative narratives. In this trailer you can see good programming and artistic talent that could be put to better use.

    • Anonymous

      Medal of Honor for PC lets you play as the Taliban and has drawn a lot of criticism.

  • Phil Baxter

    Some people really need to grow a sense of humour. You can make a joke about ANYTHING. It's called freedom of speech.

    • Tiberius

      You can, indeed. But freedom of speech don't make funny an dumb, senseless joke.

    • Animal2605

      It all depends on who is making the joke. It seems that everyone else can joke about certain people, but if they do so, then its a major sin. How dare they poke fun at others but they have to sit back and take whatever is thrown at them.


    Ha! I called this 3 weeks ago in the comments

    "I will bet my next paycheck that liberal "Obamatrons"® call this game racist and pull it from the app store if it gets popular."

    The only thing wrong with my prediction was they pulled it before it saw the light of day. Stop voting for Liberals!

    • Anonymous

      This isn't a political discussion. Go away.

    • Headchem

      Have you no reverence for the sanctity of ornithology?! And don't get me started on ninja's slicing and otherwise defiling God's created fruits. Palin 2013!

      • No

        I'm not sure what any of this has to do with the study of birds (ornithology) or ninjas. Keep smokin though.

  • GSMPedia

    Just look at those mexicans fly!

  • gee

    im not a racist, but i got to admit this game looks cool and it has a very interesting concept 🙂

  • Jim

    It's easy to understand why people would be upset about this depiction because IRL US immigration policy is among the worst in the world. But what did Angry Birds do to ornithology?

  • Fa

    There goes my respect for this site, which I've been following for months, yet which I'll never visit again. I'm 39, and have been gaming since, well, forever, and one thing that I see time and again on American-run sites is a crass insensitvity to other people, endlessly espoused by one ignorant comment after another from hick users. This game IS insensitive, as people smuggling, and the plight of would-be immigrants, is a Very sensitive issue. Why not make a game where you have to try and land people on an island, while stormy waves are trying to smash your boat to shreds? Oh, wait - didn't at least 28 people, including many children, babies and infants, drown in this exact manner last Christmas in Australia? Don't, for the sake of argument, various people die of thirst and so on trying to cross into America each year from Mexico? And aren't Americans themselves just a bunch of immigrants, who invaded from Europe and did their damndest to wipe out those who were there already? Fine. Go ahead and joke about people smuggling. It's easy when Your life isn't affected, right? Idiots. Goodbye, crass site...

    • Tiberius

      Agreed. I don't think immigrant babies falling from a truck should be acceptable. The pointless insensitivity of a few games affects to the image of creators and consumers. If we want better products, we, the gamers, should ask for higher standards.

    • Headchem

      I'm glad they finally stopped forcing you to visit this site... The fact that you would even spend $0.99 on a game when there are children starving in Africa disgusts me. The entire Internet, neigh, the entire world, thanks you for taking a stand by ranting in a comments section.

    • Jay

      I'm sorry, could you speak up? It's hard to hear you over all that whining.

    • Animal2605

      You mention about how many die crossing the border, yet this gets lost in how states are fighting their crossing illegaly. How AZ and some of the sheriffs here are so racist trying to stop it. It seems to me that not to stop it and to keep allowing them to die on the way is far more cruel than what is trying to be done. What if Mexicans and others make games about us? I have seen many others poking fun at white people and others and they are supposed to just lay back and take it. Yet they will scream racist if its directed at them. As far as immigration goes, if you go back far enough, who is the real native Americans? The earliest ones crossed over on a land bridge from Asia according to theory and findings. Then again what about a skull that was found that is far older and appears to be caucasian. I also kept pics from a web site that was closed down by the government that has some very strange things in it to include what appears to be Phoenician furnaces. The owner of the property was made to cover it back up. Also, my life has been affected by illegal immigration in more than one way, so according to one of your comments, that gives me the right to joke about it.

    • Darkestafro

      There you go, i guess nobody will miss you. Good luck with your political corrent mobile game sites.

  • Huachintong

    Why go as far as afrika when you can see the need to fix this problem here in Los Angeles!

  • Beans

    Im Mexican American and I think this game is funny but then again most iPhone games are made for kids or teens. So this is kind of messed up but then again in the game the point is to keep the Mexicans in the truck and not let them fall out and get hurt so in a way were caring about their safety in order to get a high score.. lol.

  • cracka

    Im gonna make a game where you play a crazy white cracker hoe whos objective is shoot off all her children who raise up the whining meter.

  • Centrifugal

    "The good news is, not everyone is taking this so seriously, as thankfully there are still some people in this world who can differentiate video games from reality."

    This is an extremely sensitive and political subject, and I'm surprised that a video game review site would make such a statement. A video game with outrageously racist symbolism or actions is distasteful and disrespectful. Think about how the imagery projects stereotypes and racist connotations...then consider how these images are used, i.e., social types from a particular culture—including babies—tossed from a pickup truck. This is disrespectful to Mexicans.

    I could understand publishing the controversy regarding the issue. But if this is supposed to be a politically, racially unbiased website then I'm really surprised by: "The good news is, not everyone is taking this so seriously." Think about other sensitive sociopolitical-cultural issues: KKK violence, Nazi gas chambers, etc. These are certainly extremes...and not everyone takes these seriously either, but that doesn't make them right or appropriate for a website about entertaining video games.

    As a long term fan of this website, I highly recommend reconsidering the statement.

    • Sumatori


    • Centrifugal

      An important point is made by TA Reader below, revealing truth behind the game.

  • TA Reader

    Saw this on the local news last night and they actually did a nice job showing both sides of the story (for a change). What no one has mentioned is the fact the developer and his friends struggled to emigrate to this country and made this satirical game out of frustration:

    "Schwartz said the message that developers want to send out through the game - it's so tough to legally emigrate to the U.S. that it's almost easier to smuggle yourself over the border despite the dangers."

    There are more comments about how the characters look (not stereotypical); a contest where your face can appear as one of the characters and how the game has been received very well in the coffee shops where he has been testing his game.

    The more you live the more you realize that everything is going to upset someone.

    • Centrifugal

      "What no one has mentioned is the fact the developer and his friends struggled to emigrate to this country and made this satirical game out of frustration."

      This is a great point and complicates the issue, so thanks for bringing it up. It also is seems to be an important aspect left out of this article, the notion of using new ways of communication to speak about important issues. This is similar to how Sacha Baron Cohen revealed an ideology behind young American adults in an RV, and based on the comments to this article—perhaps it's working. Sadly, and unless I'm missing something in the post, may very well be one of those kids on the RV.

      • Anonymous

        Great point about Sacha Baron Cohen. Nobody made a big fuss over throw the Jew down the well. People knew it was satire. How can you not know that about this.

  • Darkestafro

    GOTY so early ? Nice Clip of this game:

  • Amonaco

    Epic quote

  • darthv

    Mmmm...I know of an idea for a game. You see, you control a plane. With this plane you try to crash into as many buildings as you can in NY. If you hit the tallest two buildings in the game you get a bonus. The amount of people dead equals the number of points you get.
    Or wait...why don't you go play the Columbine Massacre RPG! It's readily available!
    Fun huh?
    Not at all. Why trivialize some things while disrespecting others? People die in those trips too, you know. It's not like they came in by fun exciting rides. The reality is different. Some people die from the harsh conditions of the place...leaving their families forever. But they're not American, right?

  • Jon

    "...thankfully there are still some people in this world who can differentiate video games from reality."

    Yeah, that pretty much shows how little you understand the issue that people are taking with this. It is that the game perpetuates a stereotype and acts as an advertisement for hate groups. If you want to comment on social issues you better get read. For now you should stick to video game promos.

  • Cristiano Fernandez

    This game wasn't the 1st of its kind. It was JOSE COMES TO USA, and for the looks of it, JOSE COMES TO USA, had more decency with the whole aspect.

    I think this game has no taste whatsoever. Classless is more like it, if you ask me. I cant believe this Boston company is making money with this issue and on top of that hope that everything is OK and fine with groups and Hispanics all around.