The New York Times launched The Voter Suppression Trail, a free-to-play browser game that highlights the difficulties many Americans will face when attempting to vote during Tuesday’s presidential election.
The game is presented as a spoof of the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium’s educational PC title The Oregon Trail, swapping out many familiar elements from the classic game with challenges that reflect current events.
The Voter Suppression Trail offers three playable characters, each of which will face their own share of difficulties during the voting process. Giving players the ability to play as either a white computer programmer from California, a Latina nurse from Texas, or a black salesman from Wisconsin, the initial choice effectively serves as a difficulty setting, much like how The Oregon Trail‘s choice of profession determines starting cash and supplies.
As players endure mounting delays, they are confronted with a series of distractions that could potentially lose them their place in line and thus their vote. Characters who are parents will have to neglect their children in order to make it to the polls, for instance, while the salesman character will need to ignore threats from his boss.
Upon reaching the polls, players will face a new challenge in the form of red-hatted “election observers” who attempt to intimidate Democratic voters with violence and rhetoric. Instead of hunting wildlife as in The Oregon Trail, players of The Voter Suppression Trail must instead avoid the insults hurled by observers as they wait for their opportunity to vote.
The game also likens provisional ballot voting to fording rivers in The Oregon Trail. Warning that provisional ballots “may be tossed out or not verified in time to count in an election,” the option exists as a risky last resort.
“On Nov. 8, a new generation of Americans will make their own heroic journeys — to the polls,” The New York Times explains. “Some paths will be more intrepid than others, particularly for blacks, Latinos and pretty much anyone who brings the kind of diversity to our polling places that they have historically lacked.”