Losing the lottery


When Papers Please was still just a demo, that I played rather obsessively, Lukas Pope, the game’s developer, sent out a call for names. Enter your name in this form and maybe it would get included in the game. This was before all the accolades of 2013  would rain down on the game but I had a hunch this was something special. So I entered my name in the form and kinda forgot about it. Well, not quite. When I played the final game I would sometimes recall that submission and wonder if I might suddenly have to deny myself entry.

Doing some housecleaning on a soon-to-be-abandoned Gmail account, I found the ‘receipt’ email from filling out the form. I clicked the link in it thinking that it would probably not work any more. Instead I got a metajoke from 2013. I guess it’s something. Better than getting deported.

Why wasn’t my name included?
A name may have been excluded if it was inappropriate for the setting, offensive, too long, too short, copyrighted, from an existing character, or simply not checked. Of 27,271 submitted names, I was able to check 20% (5,669) and only about half of those (2,705) were selected.
Why not include all submitted names?
My original intention was to include all submitted names but even a cursory check revealed a surprisingly vast number of inappropriate, copyrighted, offensive, not-theme-fitting, too-long, bad-joke names submitted by players. These kind of names can be fun but negatively affect the mood of the game. I decided the best move was to check each one manually. After nearly 6,000 names, I never want to see another fake Eastern European name again.

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