Escape Route X

ESCAPE-ROUTE-X-video still
Link naar video klik op afbeelding / link to video- click image

Escape route X is the title of an educational multimedia and contemporary social game.


This game was developed in 2011 by me and artist Mark van Enk under the name ”Flight050511” for the Liberationday Festival in Zwolle. Afterwards, I continued developing it into a full-blown board game. With the help of Codename Future, Emiel Sikkema and schoolteacher Wim Hilberdink and his students of media wits at SG Thorbecke Zwolle, I did research to optimise the game and make it interesting for young audiences.

There is considerable concern about the influx of refugees. There seems to exist little understanding and a fear culture. This is where the saying unknown makes unloved certainly applies. The fear of the unknown and lack of understanding about people’s motives for fleeing contribute to alienation and hardening.

This game aims to make a difference by placing the game player in in the refugee’s shoes, so to speak.

The player takes on the a character. There are 4 characters in total: Chin Ho from North Korea (Asia), Ali Osman from Sudan (North Africa) Jimpa from Tibet (Asia) and Jamilah from Syria (Middle East). Each player is given a passport containing some personal information and backgrounds. It also includes the cause of departure, i.e. what is at stake. Every player will be travelling using a different method: by truck, plane , boat or on foot. While on the road, players face all kinds of setbacks such as corruption, bad luck, violence, and even life-threatening situations.

The player undertakes his flight from his (fictional) father or motherland to the Netherlands. This voyage is uncomfortable and uncertain; it is even doubtful whether you will ever arrive. The players of this game will touch briefly and in a playful way on the frustrations and hardships an average refugee has to face before, during and after his ‘flight’. While it remains a game, the circumstances the player has to deal with are sometimes harsh and unmerciful, for themselves or others. Constant choices have to be made between one’s own interests and the interests of others.

There are impossible dilemmas but also pros and cons that make the route unpredictable. Having and/or getting money matters to get ahead. Winning can be a sum of the right moral, rock-solid selfish choices or dumb luck. Either way, arriving first is not the only way to win.

This game aims to give the player more insights into refugee issues here and in the country of origin but also to provide them with both a face and a story. Making it more personal can help promote understanding and a more open attitude towards the newcomers.

Recently there has been renewed interest in using the game for educational purposes. The game has recently been played and critically reviewed. Some points of improvement and suggestions for additional features have emerged.

Escape Route X - test
Escape Route X – testteam