Sources for NarcoGuerra: Researching The War on Drugs

This article looks at the sources we used for the game NarcoGuerra,’s look at the war on drugs. The first point to note is that by no means is this the definitive word on the issue. We’re focused on one area and one facet of that area; how the street-price is impacted by policing. That focus came from a discussion with Danny Kushlick, the Director of External Affairs at Transform Drug Policy Foundation. He talked about this ‘balloon effect’ whereby pressure on one location just results in a bubble in another.

Before we’d talked I assumed the problem was consumption of drugs, which it is in some respects, but what I didn’t realise is that the proportion of the population who use drugs has not really changed that much. Basically it seemed to me from the research that some people are going to use drugs, always have, always will, some for fun and some to escape their reality. Fighting a war against that does not seem to have worked. So I was thinking we’d do a game where the ‘reveal’ to the player was that you needed to put your resources into treatment in the places where drugs are consumed and not attack the supply end where they are produced. But this did not seem to be the case either, so while treatment is important, the basic problem is one of market forces. If the police and military do a good job of stopping drug trafficking, the supply goes down and so the price goes up. As the price goes up there is more money to be made trafficking drugs, so more criminals enter the market. As more criminals enter the market the supply goes up and so the price drops and drugs become easy to get.

Nothing would have changed except lots of tax-payer money was spent in achieving nothing the there is a human cost to the who doomed attempt Stop stop supply. What we have done in NarcoGuerra is to build a simulation of this real street-price equation and we invite the player to see how they can fare in this environment.  The War on Drugs is a global issue, given the resources we had we opted to focus on one area: Mexico – so this BBC documentary was a source of info for us:

As was this Vice film on the cartels vs Mormons was also very interesting:

Here’s a few of the sources we used in the research for the game:

You can find the main site for the game here.