I don’t know how people come up with this, but I’ve come two very interesting games that pick up topics you wouldn’t immediately think of. I haven’t played them yet, but I’m intrigued by the concepts.
Papers, Please! puts you into the shoes of an immigration officer at an airport of a fictional country. You have to examine visa applicants and finally granting or denying them entry. You earn money from how many people you correctly admit or reject. And you need the money to pay for your own expenses: rent, food, heating, medicine. Screw up and you won’t be able to afford them.
This puts you into a difficult spot. Your performance doesn’t only affect the live of the person you’re examining, but yours too. You learn that (surprisingly) You’re swayed between concern, duty, diligence, suspicion, courtesy and cynicism … and you get why border are no laughing matter. :/ I think the review on Arstechnica captures the feeling well.
In Blackbar is a different twist on puzzle games. You get to read mail between two fictional people with parts blacked out. Your task is to reconstruct the blacked-out parts. It’s as simple as that. You get drawn in into the story between the two and you need this context to deduce some of the parts. It feels creepy. :/ TUAW has a nice review of it.