• The Facebook page created in defence of the game, and as a reaction to the backlash. (Facebook)Source: Facebook
Video game that promotes killing Aboriginal people a step back for reconciliation, says Indigenous group.
By
Tara Callinan, Andrea Booth

Source:
NITV News
18 Jan 2016 - 5:25 PM  UPDATED 18 Jan 2016 - 7:18 PM

Reconciliation Australia CEO Mr Justin Mohamed says the game grossly violates Indigenous rights.

“Games like Survival Island 3 perpetuate and undermine the horrific injustices Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have faced since colonisation, including massacres, the removal of children from their families and the denial of basic citizenship rights," Mr Mohamed said. 

"It is incumbent upon us as a nation, and as individuals, to reject such abhorrent games.” 

Survival Island 3 – Australia Story 3D, a video game which allegedly features killing Aboriginal Australians by Kristina Fedenkova, became available in December 2015. It was removed from iTunes and GooglePlay on January 16 after a change.org petition racked up 60,000 signatures.

'It was extremely important to me that this game get taken off the market, games like this should not be allowed to be sold.'

 Amazon was slow to follow suit, but removed the app from its store after telling NITV News on Monday that all apps must adhere to its guidelines.

NSW Aboriginal Land Council joined the debate and urged video game producers to seek consulation with Indigenous people to ensure content is culturally appropriate.

“There is great potential for video game and app designers to work together and we hope the response from the online petition can translate into something positive for Aboriginal game and app designers,” land council chair Roy Ah-See told media.

"The game's depiction of Aboriginal people is inaccurate, insensitive and demeans the important traditions, culture and ongoing connection Aboriginal people hold to land,” he said.

"This game disgusted me and also made me very sad because games like this shouldn't be allowed to exist," Georgia Mantle, Gadigal humanitarian volunteer based in Timor Leste who created the petition Killing Indigenous Australians is not a game, told NITV News.

"It was extremely important to me that this game get taken off the market, games like this should not be allowed to be sold."

Australia’s Department of Communications and the Arts announced Sunday it would conduct an investigation over the game. 

"I am appalled that anyone would develop such a so called ‘game’ and that any platform would carry it. I have asked my department to provide advice on the circumstances of its release and to review and advise in relation to any other games by the same developer," said Communications Minister Mitch Fifield.

Details of the investigation remain unclear with the Minister's office telling NITV that censorship is not under its jurisdiction.

How the game even made it past Apple and Google content guidelines, as stated on their websites, still remains a mystery as neither organisation responded to NITV's request for comments.

This is what Apple states as its policy:

"Apps containing references or commentary about a religious, cultural or ethnic group that are defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited or likely to expose the targeted group to harm or violence will be rejected. Any App that is defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited, or likely to place the targeted individual or group in harm's way will be rejected. And that 'enemies' within the context of a game cannot solely target a specific race, culture, a real government or corporation, or any other real entity."

And this is what it says about its marketing protocol:

"Display the app on the screen exactly as a customer will experience it when the app is running," it reads. "Don't add graphics or messages."

Google Play on the other hand does not restrict graphic assets or screenshots for promotions.

In defence of the app

As news about the game spread around the country, blogger One Angry Gamer criticised the backlash, saying media outlets and journalists have misreported the content in the game.

"I'm not defending the game, I'm attacking the fact that the media lied about what the game is about. It's a survival simulator. It is not an Aborigine killing simulator," One Angry Gamer wrote.

"For those outside looking in who have zero knowledge about game design, it's easy to say this is about discrimination or hatred of the people, but the reality is that it's a low-budget, copy-and-paste mobile game.”

The blogger adds that players can choose either friendly or hostile Aboriginal characters. They say the 'Beware of Aborigines' graphics across the game's advertisement does not appear in the game and no 'warning' graphic flashes when an Aboriginal character appears unlike the promotion, referencing a YouTube clip.

Petitioner hail sits removal

But Ms Mantle, who says she has not yet downloaded the game, maintains Survival 3's content is problematic.

“[Racist] images and wording did still appear in the [promotion] which is still unacceptable. Whether the game developer or the marketing team is to blame is, I believe, beside the point," she said. 

“Indigenous people are still being shown in a stereotypical way, and that the player is able to attack these characters.

“This game still reflects real racism.”

She said she was glad the game was removed from Apple and Google Play.

“It sends a message to other game developers that there is no room for racist games like this in Australia.”

NITV News has sought comment from NIL Entertainment-Nilpublisher, which has not yet responded to questions of why it created such a game and who was responsible for marketing it.

NITV News has also been unable to reach game creator Kristina Fedenkova.