For this assignment I chose to play Against All Odds particularly because of my interest in the immigrant and refugee population in Buffalo. Most of my ESL experience within the classroom has been working with students who in majority are refugees. I recalled on many experiences in which students asked to watch the news to check up on their native country and see what devastation was occurring.
The game itself was very intense, as it was divided in three components - escaping your native country, entering a new country, and succeeding in this new environment. The first section was definitely the most difficult, both in completing the tasks and in its emotional effects. In my first run through of the very first game, I had to answer questions as if I were a refugee, but in the questions I disagreed with many of the questions, stating I wouldn't give up my rights, don't believe that the government is righteous, etc. To my surprise my character would get abused for wrong answers, and stimulated blood spatters, which I wasn't prepared for. The second time around I realized I had to lie in my answers and fake allegiance to this hypothetical situation in order to survive. From there, the game took me on a course out of the country where I had to leave friends behind, leave those injured behind, and strictly look after myself and my family in order to survive. Had I been in those situations in real life, I'm not sure I would be so willing to protect myself. This is an example of a game simulation which you cannot relate to unless you have experienced it. Though I know the game wants me to face these questions of ethics and morality, I'm not sure I would have been able to so easily faced these moral dilemmas in real life. From here, the components became a bit less emotionally shocking and was more upfront in the realities many refugee and immigrants must face. The game showed you what it would be like to not know the native language, not understand certain cues, and overall instilled a sense of hopelessness. Additionally, the game prompted very accurate situations of prejudice, where many of the phrases of discrimination unfortunately weren't too far of a stretch to believe.
If I were to use this game in a classroom I wouldn't use the first phase. In my hopes of teaching predominantly refugees, I wouldn't want to put them through a sort of virtual hell of something they have possibly already experienced. Rather, I would utilize the last two components of entering a new school and looking for a job, as it would be more relatable to their present condition. This would most closely relate to the NYS Standards in ESL, particularly Language for Cross Cultural Knowledge and Understanding which states:
"Students will demonstrate cross-cultural knowledge and sensitivity in communicating with others of varied social, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds. They will develop and use culturally appropriate behaviors, and a knowledge of local and US cultures and practices, in their interactions with others in their new cultural environment"
As they are experiencing the same assimilation as presented in the game, they can perhaps gain a more critical consciousness of their situation where they are able to step outside and examine the struggles they have faced and perhaps what they have learned. In my assessment, I would ask students to compare/contrast their experiences with the ones they faced in the game to examine their interpersonal awareness and overall opinion of their experience. While it is important for them to be able to look ahead and examine the benefits of fleeing to the United States, I think it is also important for them to understand the difficulties they have faced and how they personally were able to overcome such immense obstacles.