The Migration Roulette

Name of the tool:“The migration roulette”

Theme/subject approached: Migration – to show to children or young teens the difficulties encountered by migrants during their journey to the host country.


Objectives of the tool: The main goal of the game is to raise awareness among children or young teenagers to the problems of migration in the world and to the difficulties thousands of people must face, in an interactive and enjoyable way.

In the world, there are currently about 200 million migrants and refugees nowadays. Many people leave their countries for political, economic, social or environmental reasons. Their travel conditions are often very difficult, costly and dangerous. The migrants often collide with closed borders. The rare migrants who reach the destination are frequently victims of discriminations. Therefore, it seemed for us important to raise awareness of these topics.

From the first game, the participants discover in an unpredictable way which character they are going to be. We preferred offering a game rather than to permit a free choice, because the situation of each one at the birth is, of course, very unpredictable. With the situations described on the passports, they also discover some examples of reasons that can force people to emigrate.

The second game represents the scramble everybody must face to save the money needed for a long trip: all the migrants do not try to go to developed countries with the same quantity of money, but having more money is, as always, a serious advantage.

The visa game represents the extremely difficult application system in order to get a visa for a developed country. It represents how the meeting in the embassy becomes a real test, during which it is necessary to use its best image to succeed to persuade. But it also says that returned decisions are, again, unpredictable and not always fair.

The crossing game, finally, is a comparatively physical game, especially for the participants who intent it without visa: until the in end, we realize that nothing is ever won for the migrants.

Finally, our migrants game is a game where everybody does not win, but where in the opposite it is very easy to feel frustrated and disappointed to have lost, even after so much hard work and determination.

Our tool must therefore help participants to become aware of the greater issues surrounding migration. The main goal is that the players no longer see the immigrants as undesirable persons, but as people with serious reasons to migrate, and who suffer greatly in accomplishing their goal. And therefore, to open the mind of the public, making them more tolerant towards people whose only fault is to have been born in less-favored and troubled countries.

Target-group: The game was designed for the young people from the age of 12 to 16 – this is the age when young people’s opinion is still in formation and their mind is creating an image of the global issues that are not just happening kilometers away, but are also interfering their lives and affecting the cause of events around them.

Number of participants (minimum and maximum): Min. 4, max. 20. Participants are divided into at least four equally sized groups or more. There should also be at least 2-3 leaders of the game who exchange their leading role during different games and the debate at the end of a game, but when the group of players is smaller, also one is sufficient.

Material needed: Paper, (colorful) pens, scissors, music/radio, small paper cards, coins or fake paper money.

Space: Spacious room for about 20 people, which offers enough space to move freely.

Duration: At least 45 min, where the first 30 min is meant for the game itself and the last 15 min for the debate over the game, young people’s feelings and migration topic.


The tool is composed out of four different games who are designed to be the continuation of one another. It is important to follow this scheme in order to arrive to the final stage where you might obtain a visa and you are allowed to stay in a host country or you must return to your homeland. After finishing the last game we strongly encourage the group leaders to organize a short conversation/debate, where participants of the game share their view regarding the migration thematic and the game itself, and additionally express their feelings: how it’s like to be in someone else’s shoe – immigrant in this case.

 1 / Island Game

Objectives: a fun way to create the teams children will work with during the game.

This is the same principle as “musical chairs” by replacing the chairs by pieces of paper on the ground. Pieces of paper shaped like islands are placed on the floor, and some have a country name written on the back (imaginary or not). Participants walk in the room while the music is played and once when the music is stopped, the participants must take a refuge on an “island”. The exercise is repeated several times, removing more and more islands during the game. When you arrive at the number of island that is also the number of teams you wish to design (ideally would be equalised), the game stops.  Participants turn over the “island” where they took the last refuge and discover their home country for the game cause. They are then handed a “passport” (small paper cards) detailing their family and first name, country of origin, the reasons which led them to migrate, their education or work (job title) in their homeland and the money saved before going to this “journey”. We must be careful for not stereotyping while writing the card (passport) details for certain country. Before even starting, we define which country of immigration it is and what is the amount of money players need to obtain a visa for that country.

2 / Money Game

Objectives: This is to acquire more money because neither team has enough money to make the crossing.

We show each team that they must work to earn money in order to travel. Therefore we give each team a word game in which participants must find a number of words related to immigration. The word game is prepared by the organizer beforehand and could also be replaced by a crossword puzzle or any other game that is similar. The result of the game gives each team additional savings to make the crossing easier – the fastest team gets the biggest earnings, the slowest team gets minimum amount or nothing. The group leader can make minor speculations at this point to show how the global system is unfair to some – despite the fact that certain group is faster than the other, the leader can give more money to the team that might not be the winner, but can change the continuation of the game and therefore keep the weakest team in the game. Based on the sum of money teams have on their cards (passports) and amount they have just earned, the team that does not have enough money to continue their journey (based on the cost of the visa for the host country defined at the beginning of the game) is asked if it still wants to continue to play – to try the next level, although it might not be successful. At this level it is important to keep all the teams in the game.

3 / Visa Game

Objective: To demonstrate that it isn’t always simple to obtain a visa, and that sometimes a decision will be made irrationally.

To obtain a visa, teams must convince the jury of the host country or the “embassy” as we named it, how strong is their motivation to settle. For this each team has 3-4 minutes to compose their speech in rhymes or even make a song! Creativity is desired. The jury then decides on the best ones and gives visas to some teams and not to the others. This will affect the final game (the crossing). The teams (could also be just one) that do not receive a visa, are asked if they wish to continue – illegally. It is crucial to keep all the teams in the game, because the next level defines the real winner or the immigrant who made to the final point of the journey.

4/ the crossing game

Objective: To show that you must work harder to cross the border if you do not have a visa, but even with one, it is still possible to be rejected at entry.

The participants stand in a line, one behind the other and are told to be standing on the beach. To their left is the sea and to their right, is the host country or their destination country. When the game leader shouts “sea”, “beach” or “the name of host country (e.g. France)” the players need to react. If the shout is “sea”, they jump to the left, if they hear “the name of the destination country” they jump to the right and if they hear “beach” they stay on the spot without reacting. However, those without a visa from previous rounds must work harder. If “sea” is shouted, they must do a swimming stroke with their arms. If “beach” is shouted, they must run on the spot, and if “the name of the country” is shouted, they must make a gesture that demonstrates the biggest sightseeing attraction of that country (e.g. to make the Eiffel Tower with their arms for France). If the team includes more members, they need to react (jump) simultaneously, otherwise the group leader who is observing the game, excludes them from the game or takes their visa in case they obtained it in previous rounds of the game. The team that does not make any mistake in this last game, even if it’s entering the host country illegally, is allowed to enter the country and the rest are sent back to their country of origin. That is shown with different scenarios which demonstrate the issues of migrant journeys to the students. For example, the police will catch one group running on the beach and send them home. One group may enter the country with their visa, but one may be rejected even though they had previously obtained visas. This then prompts a discussion of the difficulties and frustrations that the participants felt, which can then be related to real migrants.


The team members are following instructions of the game leaders. None of the team members is carrying a specific or a leading role. The game leaders must have an overview of the entire situation and observe carefully the results of each intermediate game in order to speculate a bit for showing injustice that such journey can bring. It is also important to see how team member’s feelings are while playing the game.


After the whole game finishes and the real visa obtainer(s) is known, we ask all the teams to sit in a circle and talk about their feelings. Firstly we touch upon issues and facts related to migration, because not all young people are aware of that. They we asked them to think how there feelings were during the game.

Possible questions that can be asked are:

–      how did you feel during the game?

–      do you think it’s like that in the real life?

–      What shocked you, what frustrated  you ?

–      Have your attitudes changed during the game?

–      do you think the problems people face are worth the risk of emigration?

–      would you start a journey, if you wouldn’t have enough money/would you continue your journey if the legal way of entering the host country would be denied to you or unreachable?

–      how do you felt towards immigrants in your country?

Adaptability to other themes/topic:

With this game we can demonstrate how migration relates to (in)equality, (in)justice, poverty. Since the games are quite specific, we can only relate them to migration, but with some modification and changing the objectives, we can adapt it to gender issues, poverty, inequality, injustice.

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