Bury me, my Love is a reality-inspired interactive fiction game that simulates the experience of a Syrian couple separated by the violent conflict in their nation. Through an interface mimicking WhatsApp, users watch the dramatic story of Nour and Majd unfold, learn through immersion about the experiences of modern Syrian refugees, and make choices related to time, money, transportation, and relationships to determine the fate of both characters.
I think the format chosen for this experience is excellent. You receive all of your information in texts and photos, so it’s fast-paced and engaging. It feels personal, consequential, and usually quite gripping; we all know what it feels like to be in a tense or scary situation and stare at those animated ellipses in a text, waiting for that indication of typing to turn into an important response. In building a sense of intimacy between you and the characters during challenging events, your empathy for those who are separated indefinitely in a crisis context definitely grows.
The fact that this experience is inspired by a true story is made clear through the details and regular conversations that take place intermittently between more dramatic and traumatic moments. Through these conversations, we get to know both Madj, the character the player represents, and Nour, his wife, as people, not just as victims. Humanizing them amidst all the graphic details that the app does not spare gives insight into the situation without tokenizing Syrians.
The choose-your-own-adventure style of the game is perhaps what gives it the most educational value. Having to make judgment calls on resources, people, and relationship priorities teaches you the huge effects just one decision can have on your life, especially as a refugee.
While I do appreciate the fact that Bury me, my Love’s characters talk about things other than the direct action and conflicts at hand, sometimes I feel like these conversations distract from the storyline and remove the player from direct participation. Simply watching a conversation, especially when it’s just about mundane, everyday life, can cause the player to disengage if it lasts too long. The small chat could be cut down a bit without the experience losing authenticity.
While the prologue is free to play (and definitely long enough for a free trial), the full app is $2.99. This seems a decent price for the significant amount of content, but it might be a restriction for some.
Overall, I thought Bury me, my Love was an innovative and engaging way to introduce those far-removed from the Syrian refugee crisis to the lifestyle modern refugees have had to adjust to, and the consequential choices they face daily. It is the sort of experience that reminds you to value your friends and family, and to be thankful for what you’re fortunate enough to have.Image: by ARTE France