This 23-Year-Old Artist Created A Video Game About Border Crossing To Honor His Immigrant Parents


Artist Gonzalo Alvarez understands the harsh reality people face when crossing borders. Both of Alvarez’s parents crossed the U.S.-Mexico border to create better lives for themselves in the U.S. According to Alvarez, his mother was even captured “a couple times” before she successfully made it. Though his parents are both citizens now, Alvarez wanted to create something that would convey the struggle they faced as immigrants. So he created a video game about it.

Using his parent’s immigration stories as inspiration, Alvarez has created an 8-bit video game called “Borders.”


“Borders” was created in only 7 days, with the help of two game developers. On his personal website, Alvarez makes it clear that “Borders” was not designed to be played for entertainment, but instead, was conceived as:

[A] political art game created not only to exhibit video games as an art form but to portray the dangers Mexican immigrants face in order to give the next generation a better future

In “Borders,” the player takes on the role of a Mexican immigrant attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

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Along the way, the player must stealthily avoid la migra and los moscos, and collect jugs of water to stave off heat and dehydration. Every time the player dies, the skeleton of their previous attempt remains in the game. Each skeleton serves as a reminder of the many immigrants who never complete their journey.

Alvarez chose the 8-bit graphic style to create a more “immersive” experience for the player.

The simple 8-bit art style was necessary for taking on a complex issue like immigration. The Texas native told Lamar University Press that he went with the pixel art style because it requires the player to let their imagination take over. “This [immigrant] is just, essentially, a vessel for you to put yourself in. You kind of become the character.”

Alvarez understands the sacrifices his parents made so that he could have these kinds of opportunities.

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Alvarez told the Lamar University Press that he is able to purse his dreams in the U.S. because his parents won their real-life version of the game: “I’m living proof of them winning the real game.”

And he hopes that “Borders” will add to the on-going conversation about immigration reform.

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Alvarez told the Beaumont Enterprise, “My goal with this was not only to show games as an art form, but to start a dialogue about immigration.”

A playable arcade-style version of “Borders” is available at the Sol Art Gallery in Beaumont, Texas.

So far many players have attempted to cross the border, but very few have actually made it. “Borders” will be on display at the Sol Art Gallery through March 3rd. Fan of Alvarez’s work can check out his website, which features more art inspired by the “whimsical worlds influenced by the grotesque yet charming culture of Mexico” he grew up with.

Be sure to download a free version of the game here.

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Make the journey for yourself.

READ: This Insane Video Game Out Of Mexico Will Break Your Reality

Mexican Soccer Star Finds A "Border Wall" At Toys R Us In Portugal


Mexican Soccer Star Finds A “Border Wall” At Toys R Us In Portugal

Meet Miguel Layun.

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Vamonos!!! #IncondicionalEs #MexVsCR 🇲🇽⚽️

A post shared by Miguel Layun (@miguel_layun) on

He’s one of the standout fútbol players on Mexico’s national team.

He currently plays professionally for FC Porto, a club based in Porto, Portugal.

During some recent off time, Layun visited a Toys ‘R’ Us in the neighborhood of Gaia in Porto. He was shocked to find the store displaying a “brick” wall, a stop sign and two signs: one with an arrow to Mexico, and another with an arrow for USA.

Layun took to social accounts to post a photo of the U.S-Mexico border wall display. “It doesn’t scare me, but I think it’s disrespectful for @toysrus in Gaia to put up these decorations. It’s a message that is not really appropriate for children. Let them grow up without prejudices,” wrote Layun.

On Twitter, Layun said his family walked out of the store after seeing the display.

About an hour after he posted the image to his social accounts, Toys ‘R’ Us replied to Layun’s tweet.

Credit: Toys R Us / Twitter
CREDIT: Credit: Toys R Us / Twitter

A few hours later, Layun posted a video with an update of the incident. According to Layun, the store manager and employees spoke to him after he posted the photo.

Miguel Layun Oficial / Facebook
CREDIT: Miguel Layun Oficial / Facebook

“I want to clear up what happened today at Toys R Us. I want to thank the manager and workers for speaking to me and my family to make it clear their intention was not to mock us or make us feel uncomfortable. The decoration was just that — a decoration for the “carnaval” taking place in Portugal. I also wanted to thank Toys R Us for letting me know that those are not the politics or ideals of the company. From the heart, I appreciate it. I also wanted to mention that it would hurt me very much if this led to the firing of one of the employees working in Gaia. That wasn’t the idea. It was simply to express that respect is important.”

He then reiterated there are real people affected by a U.S.-Mexico border wall and the negativity surrounding it.

Credit: Miguel Layun Oficial / Facebook
CREDIT: Credit: Miguel Layun Oficial / Facebook

“It’s a delicate subject that is affecting [people] and creating difficult problems for many people. It’s not a subject to play around with. Hopefully, I was able to make them conscious of this. That was my only goal. I hope that this served that purpose… I hope that we all do what we can because the last thing we need in this world is more reasons to incite violence. That’s all I wanted to make clear in my message, and again, I wanted to thank all the people at Toys R Us, for making it clear that’s not the way you wanted to decoration to be displayed… [I also send] a strong greeting to all the Mexican families out there.”

Watch Layun’s full message here:

‪De verdad solo pido que no haya ninguna pérdida de trabajo con lo ocurrido hoy. Gracias Toys”R”Us .

Posted by Miguel Layún on Saturday, February 25, 2017

READ: Here’s Proof That Mexico Fans Make Fútbol More Fun

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