The frontier - that liminal space - is a place between two places; it's an universe with its own rules and meanings, which are different from those we find on both sides of the border. The frontier is a transit area but it is also a detention zone, where the authorities decide who enters and who stays out. It is in that paranormal borderline sphere where Papers, Please (Lucas Pope, 2013) takes place. We put ourselves in a Cerberus subaltern's shoes, precisely, to deal with other subalterns: the people piled up on the other side of the border who want to enter our territory, the glorious Arstotzka.
You have to make a tremendous effort in order to survive and provide for you family because everything depends, to a great extent, on how efficient you are in managing that crossing point we call the frontier. That means we are force to leave several human beings behind, maybe abandon them to a terrible fate. Fortunately, Papers, Please gives the player some leeway to, from time to time, make decisions that are against the rules and regulations. You can poke holes in the system, giving opportunities to those who had none. You might be creating a greater evil or damaging your own interests, but at least you are able to negotiate in the limits of that limit that is the frontier.
In any case, Papers, Please does not evoke a more or less distant past, but a very close situation, the present. So close that it hurts.