Syrian Refugee Game Bury Me, My Love Reflects the Agony of Waiting for a Text

Games Features Bury Me, My Love
Syrian Refugee Game Bury Me, My Love Reflects the Agony of Waiting for a Text

The benefits of modern technology mean we can be in constant communication with each other. So long as there’s an internet connection or phone service, contacting people is quick and simple to do. But even with these advantages, there will always be brief moments where there is no wi-fi, no cell service, no way to be reached. Those are the times where our dependence on our phones and computers turns into agony and helplessness. This is exactly what Bury Me, My Love wants.

Bury Me, My Love follows a woman named Nour who leaves her home in Homs, Syria, after an onslaught of bombings makes it too dangerous to stay. In hopes of reaching Europe, Nour travels alone, leaving behind her husband Majd who remains in Syria to tend to family. As Majd, players communicate with Nour through texts to stay close, and to help Nour make decisions throughout her trip.

It was inspired by the story of Dana, a Syrian migrant who decided to travel to Germany. An article published in the French publication Le Monde titled “The Journey of a Syrian Migrant, as Told by her WhatsApp Messages” was inspiration for the game’s format.

Waiting to hear from Nour is hard when played in real time mode. Hours can pass before ever hearing from her, and knowing she’s traveling, sometimes alone, sometimes with strangers, waiting for a new message kept me clinging to my phone. At one point I hadn’t heard from her so long that I panicked and changed the game’s speed to the fastest option, so I knew she was okay. It took her three days in the game to reply. I couldn’t bring myself to wait any longer.

I’m currently on my third playthrough. Neither of my previous attempts successfully got Nour to Europe. It’s a tough game all around, from its stressful decisions, to the torment in waiting to see if my choices helped or hurt Nour’s endeavors. It’s terrifying knowing I’m sitting on a couch or in bed while I tell someone to sneak onto a bus or to follow a smuggler who may have ulterior motives, but the player has as much control over Nour’s fate as her husband Majd does. And while Nour does follow some of your advice, she does make her own plans, only to tell the player afterwards.

As the website says, Bury Me, My Love is a testament to the hurdles real Syrian refugees face when trying to enter Europe in hopes of a better life. So many people leave their homes in hopes of new opportunities. Some politicians may want to believe those who do so illegally are all up to no good, but most are stories are like Nour’s, or any of the real stories this game is inspired by.

But the game is more than just the story of individual migrants; it’s also about those who are left behind, like Majd, who tried to help his wife despite being thousands of miles apart. The game’s title is an Arabic expression for telling a loved one to outlive you. It illustrates how it feels to let someone go without knowing if you’ll see them again, and hoping the next time you see their face won’t be through the glow of a smartphone.

Shonté Daniels is a poet who occasionally writes about games. Her games writing has appeared in Kill Screen, Motherboard, Waypoint and elsewhere. Her poetry can be seen at Puerto del Sol, Baltimore Review, Phoebe, and others literary journals. Check out a full archive, or follow her for sporadic tweeting.

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