'Smuggle Truck' speeds headlong into controversy - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

'Smuggle Truck' speeds headlong into controversy

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By News 8 Reporter Phil Blauer

(CBS 8) - A new iPhone game is drawing sharp criticism from immigration rights activists. It's called "Smuggle Truck", and users try to drive a truck full of immigrants through the desert and keep them from falling out.

The game, made by Boston-area tech company Owlchemy Labs, is set for release in March. Center for Social Advocacy Director Estela de los Rios is hoping nobody buys it.

"Whether it's a political issue, whether it's wrong or right, that's not for us to decide, but it's wrong to portray this as a game. It's not a game, these are real people," de los Rios said.

As the truck drives over mountains and cliffs, immigrants fall out of the truck's bed. Scores are determined by the number of immigrants helped crossing the border.

The game's developer says the idea came out of frustration friends faced while trying to immigrate to the U.S. He says his message is that it's so tough to legally emigrate to America, that it's almost easier to smuggle yourself despite the dangers.

"This is just adding to more of the fear, to more of the rhetoric across the nation on how big the problem is. It isn't making it any better, it's making it worse," de los Rios said.

The game's makers say it wasn't their intent to offend immigrants and their advocates. In fact, they say they welcome feedback and may even make adjustments.

"Smuggling is not a joke. It's not entertaining, it's a criminal activity and it shouldn't be glorified," de los Rios said.

Owlchemy Lab officials have also been testing the game around Boston, getting comments from random strangers. They claim the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

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