One of the ideas that I was grappling with was the idea of media and the flow in information and how that can distort the truth. I was thinking about all of the real life parallels in Papers, Please and the real life world we live in. The only information the Inspector receives about the state of affairs in Arstotzka is from either The Truth of Arstotzka (the daily newspaper) or M. Vogel discussing new policies.
With only these kinds of channels, news and opinions are subject to bias and, for all intents and purposes, cannot be dissected into what is factual and what is not. Because of one Kolechian extremist, a search is required for all Kolechians (day 7). This protocol and specific targeting has latent xenophobia and relates to the way we see terrorism in the United States. Realistically, any entrant could be smuggling weapons or contraband, but we are only given orders to search these specific foreigners.
In addition, when “violence erupts” in the Altan district, we are required to confiscate passports (day 24). This violence is never seen in our West Grestin checkpoint, nor is it mentioned by M. Vogel. The entrants from Altan rarely have any weight discrepancies (resulting in possible weapons/contraband); yet they are being punished for the paranoia of the nation. All of this information is taken at face value, and, until the EZIC contacts you on Day 11, must be believed as there is no other alternative.
This type of media monopoly is what plagues Arstotzka (and by parallel, America). The actions of the aggressive minority outweigh those of the passive majority. What I mean by this is that the “pure” people are innocent until proven guilty, whereas the “others” are guilty until proven…guilty. There is ample evidence about unrepresented people in this country being victimized in their deaths, yet news about black excellence and minority achievement goes wholly unreported.
On the flipside, when a white person commits the same crimes, they are covered up and thought of as “angels who made a mistake” as opposed to “thugs”. That kind of media washout is what I find interesting in Papers, Please. The EZIC serves as more of a justice figure; they do not want to control Arstotzka, but instead return it to its former freedom.
Finally, something fascinating I found. Day 11 exposes an Antegrian whistleblower who has unearthed evidence of Antegrian domestic spying.
After being denied political asylum in both Kolechia and Impor, she comes to Arstotzka. She will always have correct papers and denying her will lead to a citation. What is fascinating to me is why she comes to Arstotzka for solace (Day 21), and why she escapes on Day 22. The link is Edward Snowden and similar people is apparent, but I pose the question: what does her presence mean in this highly political game?