A joint campaign between the Australian and Sri Lankan governments to dissuade would-be illegal migrants from attempting to gain entry to Australia via sea has used a series of flash games to try to illustrate its point.
The campaign, called Zero Chance, is centred around a short-film contest designed to educate Sri Lankans considering illegal migration to Australia. Australia’s border is closed to illegal immigration, with those caught attempting to arrive via sea sent to offshore detention facilities like Nauru.
The Zero Chance campaign’s Australian website is a forbidding page, draped in dark colours and strong language. The Sri Lankan version makes an attempt at sympathy, but still runs with dire taglines like “It Will Ruin Your Life!”
What started gaining attention this morning, however, was a series of educational flash games hosted on the website, all about trying to make the crossing to Australia.
the website for ‘Zero Chance’, the government’s new campaign with Sri Lanka to discourage people from getting on boats, includes a bunch of in-browser Flash games that end in your boat getting caught in a storm pic.twitter.com/Z54HsFEDkj
— Alex McKinnon (@mckinnon_a) December 20, 2021
The games were first noted by GetUp media advisor Alex McKinnon, who posted screenshots of each game to his Twitter page. The games included a Pac-Man clone in which Australian Border Force personnel stand in for the familiar ghosts. There was also a route-selection game, a randomised shuffle game in which players had to select the boat they thought most likely to get them to Australia, and finally a Wheel of Fortune style spin-to-win game of chance.
Crucially, none of the games can actually be won, as the government seeks to make a rather on-the-nose point.
It’s not clear who developed the games. No developer is named on the site.
News of the game’s existence did not go over well on social media, with users across Twitter and Facebook calling them “sickening”, “ghoulish”, and “grim.” The Australian Greens quote-tweeted McKinnon’s post asking “Are you joking rn”.
Though the games appeared to disappear for a short time this morning, replaced by a 404 message, they are now back on the site at the time of writing.
We have reached out to both the office of Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews and the Australian Border Force for comment, and we will update this piece in due course.