What does it mean to care about another human being? To worry about their hopes and desires, to show concern when they're putting themselves in danger? And when their dreams are in your hands, when their life is hanging in the balance because of you, do you have the strength of character to do what's right?
That's the idea at the heart of Papers, Please. For all that it's a simulator of a border crossing in some imaginary nation, it's really a game about how we treat each other, and about how we react when we have all the power.
It's a game that tries to teach us something, but does it in an entertaining, often harrowing way. If you want to know what sort of person you are, then playing Papers, Please is going to give you a pretty damn good indication.
There aren't many games out there that deal with compassion. Most of the time when you're playing you're mowing down insurgents, participating in a digital game of sport, or allowing your mind to wander to realms the likes of which you're never going to see in the real world. But it's reality that Papers, Please deals in. Cold, hard, reality.
And the reality that it trades in is even closer to home now than it was when the game came out. It's about people trying to get into a country, and the increasingly maddening bureaucracy that surrounds it. And you're in the centre of things, you're the one holding the stamp that says whether they can come in or be thrown out.
But there's more to it than that. Because you've got your life as well, you need to make money from your job to feed your family, to keep them warm, and to keep them safe. And that's where the morality comes in, because you need to make sure that the people closest to you survive.
That's where the lessons start coming. That's where you start to learn more and more about yourself. Because you can let people through when their documents are wrong. Whether it's because you're being kind, or because you've been offered some extra cash, you're in a position where you can bend the rules.
That might lead to problems for you though, as you're watched by your superiors at every turn. It's dangerous to push things, and you're not just putting yourself in jeopardy, you're putting the safety of your family in jeopardy as well.
Papers, Please is a game about people, about live, and about the value we put on those things. It teaches us that in the end, life is about the choices we make, and how those choices affect other people. And it also teaches us that nothing is ever as simple as we wish it could be.