Great moments in PC gaming: Dealing with Jorji Costava in Papers, Please

Great moments in PC gaming are bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories.

Papers, Please

Developer: 3909
Year: 2013

In Papers, Please you play a border guard scrutinizing people as they try to enter the fictional state of Arstotzka. You slide papers around, compare dates and stamps and check whether cities match countries and photos match faces, trying to make sure people with forged papers don't slip through. Or perhaps you let some of them through, but not so many that the indiscretion is noticed and your pay docked or, worse, an investigation begun.

Jorji Costava is unlike anyone else who comes into your booth. The first time he doesn't even have a passport, and the second time he cheerfully hands you one that doesn't even qualify as forgery. It's a chicken-scratch mess, the drawing of a child or a simpleton. You stamp it REJECTED, explain what's wrong with it, and send him on his way. He never stops smiling.

When he comes back he has a passport but no entry papers. Then he comes back, still with no entry papers, but now he has an entry ticket. It's invalid, of course. It's impossible to be mad at the grinning doofus—this is all just a game. Jorji returns again and again, becomes a friendly constant, easy to deal with compared to the people whose papers need to be analyzed and whose emotions are volatile.

One day he rocks up with papers that are impeccable. Grinning the same ridiculous grin, he hands you the work of someone who listened to every word you said, took note of all your criticisms, and obtained perfect facsimiles. The fool has something foolproof. I didn't see that I had a choice. Knowing the papers were fake but unable to explain why within the bureaucratic rules of my job, I waved him through. Jorji happily bumbled across the border.

I think of him every time I nervously stand in line at an airport or a train station on the border, hoping I've ticked the right boxes and declared everything I need to declare. His optimism helps me relax in stressful situations. If Jorji can figure this out, anyone can.

Here's to you, Jorji Costava, and glory to Arstotzka.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.