Papers,Please : PC Game Analysis - Whats could be the MVP design for testing game play ?

September 8, 2017


Papers, please is a game that emulates fun in an unusual way. Player is a border checkpoint officer of an impoverished communist nation in the early 80’s located somewhere in the east of Berlin and west of Beijing. It also has a sense of reward and punishment that hooks you into a wanting to win game play.

Core Loop:  



The core game-play of Papers, please reveals as the immigrants line up towards an inspection desk and hand a bunch of paper-work. You as the immigration officer scan over them checking for discrepancies, types and forgeries. After analyzing the documents, we let them go into the country or send them back home. Summarizing, the core loop forms to Call and Collect Documents from Entrant – Inspecting Documents – Decide to allow/deny the entrant inside the country.


Core Mechanics: 


Entrants(Object) – The immigrants at the inspection desk form an integral part of the game as they are the primary objects whose entry into the country forms the primary game-play.


Documents (Object) – The documents like the passport, entry permit etc. are another integral element of the game as they are the primary objects subjected to inspection.


Stamp (Object) – The primary element used for making the decision for permitting an immigrant or not.


Stamping to Approve or Deny Entry(Action) – The core action of decision making to accept or deny someone entry which at times are based on resolving moral dilemmas also.


Drag and Drop of the Documents(Action) – The core action of collecting the documents, spreading them on the space to inspect and giving back to the immigrant at the inspection desk. 



Minimum Viable Product of Papers, please: 
The following are the elements which I would propose to form the MVP of the core game-play of Papers, please.


Immigrants visualized as geometrical shapes – Circle, Square, Cylinder, Triangle, Cube 

Inspection Desk as Rectangular Plate and the shape of Object as Document 

Country(Arstotzka) visualized as a Cube Box.

 Rules of Play for MVP :


a) Only Objects that can fit into circle or square base can enter the box.

b) Other object base is thrown out.

c) You have 1 chance to make mistake without penalty

d) Inspect the Shapes (Analogy to Documents) and allow only the objects subject to rules and label (Analogy to Stamping) them as Accepted or Denied. Glory to Cube Box! 


Game-play with MVP


1. When Object of Circle shape is scanned, it aligns to the rule “a”and is labelled as Accepted, sent into the cube box.

2. When Object of Circle triangle is scanned, it does not align to the rule “a” but aligns to rule “b” and is labelled as Denied, thrown out.

3. When Object of Cube shape comes, a question of morality to accept or deny occurs as a cube with square base can fit into the box and also obeys rule “a”, but it is not explicitly a square. So the player has to decide whether to accept or deny it. This is similar to the situation in the game where a immigrant might die when denied and sent back home and the player is subjected to ethical and monetary pressure or accepting or denying the immigrant.  


In the above listed way, the core experience of Papers, please can be brought out with this simple MVP.




With decision driven multiple ends, papers please puts us is an unusual engaging game which immerses the player into the environment of Arstotzka. Happy immigration ! 

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