Europe is in the midst of a dire migrant crisis. This year, Germany alone expects 800,000 people to claim asylum.

Many of the would-be immigrants are fleeing war-torn countries like Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq. Others are simply trying to escape parts of Africa and the Middle East that have been hit with famine and crushing poverty.

The journey can be perilous. An estimated 2,500 have drowned this year crossing the Mediterranean Sea, one of the riskiest routes to Europe. Asylum seekers often report violence and abuse during their journeys.


Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

A video game seeks to change how we think about the crisis and humanize how we view migrants.

While the EU governments continue to debate what to do about the crisis, London-based game developer Francois Alliot (he also goes by the name "Nerial") and his collaborator Arnaud De Bock took on a project to help humanize an often faceless collection of stats and numbers. Together, they created "Passengers," a game that puts the player in the position of a smuggler trying to assist refugees and asylum-seekers making their way to Europe.

The game is a bit like a modern take on "The Oregon Trail."

GIFs from "Passengers."

"Passengers" highlights some of the tough decisions facing both smugglers and migrants.

The game starts with two decisions: Where are you going? and Who are you taking?

Not every person hoping to make the dangerous trip will be able to. You're put in the position of deciding who you'll take with you, and who gets left behind. Do you take the scholar? Do you bring the accountant? Do you bring the former criminal?

In my first time through the game, I took as many people along for the ride as I could. Even then, remembering that these people all represent real stories playing out in the real world, I was left feeling that it's unfair that others would be left behind.

In the end of that first play-through, everyone lost. Including the "lucky" passengers selected.

After a number of passengers died along the way, my poor boat capsized after being hit by a storm. There were no winners. Whether lost at sea or left on shore, the characters were gone.


In Europe, the political gridlock around immigration can be just as bad as in the United States.

The U.S. has its own challenging political situation when it comes to immigration. We have over 11 million undocumented immigrants hanging in a perpetual state of limbo, and despite the fact that presidential candidates seem to talk a lot about it, Congress hasn't delivered a comprehensive solution in decades.

The issue is different in the European Union, which has 28 member countries (and no shortage of diverging opinions). But similar to the U.S., migrants in Europe are also struggling for their rights.

People protesting the British government for its crackdown on smugglers. Photo by Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images.

If we value human life, a safe haven must be available to all. These preventable deaths at sea are unacceptable.

Perhaps Nerial's game will spark more public interest in addressing the problem at hand. After all, if the immigration system wasn't so broken, people wouldn't need to take such dangerous routes to their destination.

Perhaps it simply serves as a reminder to be grateful for what we have. In either case, it's amazing how such a simple game can have such a profound effect on the player's own sense of morality and self-worth.

There is a human cost to any government's inaction on immigration. Thanks to one game, that became a bit more clear.

Interested in playing? Learn more about "Passengers" here.

Joy

Man uses TikTok to offer 'dinner with dad' to any kid that needs one, even adult ones

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud.

Come for the food, stay for the wholesomeness.

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud. His TikTok channel is dedicated to giving people intimate conversations they might long to have with their own father, but can’t. The most popular is his “Dinner With Dad” segment.

The concept is simple: Clayton, aka Dad, always sets down two plates of food. He always tells you what’s for dinner. He always blesses the food. He always checks in with how you’re doing.

I stress the stability here, because as someone who grew up with a less-than-stable relationship with their parents, it stood out immediately. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at Clayton’s consistency. I also noticed the immediate emotional connection created just by being asked, “How was your day?” According to relationship coach and couples counselor Don Olund, these two elements—stability and connection—are fundamental cravings that children have of their parents. Perhaps we never really stop needing it from them.


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"Top Gun: Maverick" reviews are raving.

If you're anything like me, when you heard that a "Top Gun" sequel was being made nearly three decades after the original, you may have rolled your eyes a bit. I mean, come on. "Top Gun" was great, but who makes a sequel 30 years later and expects people to be excited? Especially considering how scrutinizing both audiences and critics tend to be with second films.

Then I saw a trailer for "Top Gun: Maverick," and was surprised that it looked … super not terrible. Then more and more details about the film emerged, then more trailers and behind-the-scenes footage were released, then early reviews started rolling in and … you guys. You guysssss. I don't know how the filmmakers managed to pull it off, but everything about this film looks absolutely incredible.

And frankly, as a member of Gen X who saw the original "Top Gun" at least a dozen times, I could not be more thrilled. We deserve this win. We've been through so much. Many of us have spent the better part of the past two decades raising our kids and then spent the prime of our middle age dealing with a pandemic on top of political and social upheaval. We've been forgotten more than once—shocker—in discussions on generation gaps and battles. So to have our late-'80s heartstrings plucked by an iconic opening melody and then taken into the danger zone in what reviewers are saying is the best blockbuster in decades? Yes, please.

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How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

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