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By PipShea, Section whatever...
Posted on Sun May 4th, 2003 at 05:27:22 AM EURODISCORDIA TIME
The computer game `Escape from Woomera', has caused a wee feeding frenzy over the past week, as Australia's immigration minister, Philip Ruddock, discovered the game's development funding has come from his own government's purse. The Australia Council for the Arts has thrown $25,000 at the development of a 3D adventure game, that invites gamers to assume the character of, and `live' through the experiences of a modern day refugee.


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Australia has a policy of mandatory detention for all refugees and asylum seekers who arrive by boat on its shores. The government believes the proposed game makes a mockery of Australia's mandatory detention policy. The game's developers see it as a way of unlocking the truth about what goes on behind the razor-wire - an interactive, immersive experience of how life might be within one of the most secretive and controversial places on the Australian political and geographical landscape.

Ruddock emerged with guns blazing this week saying the game reflected badly on the Australia Council for promoting unlawful activity. An intriguing accusation when one considers the availability and popularity of uber-realistic shoot 'em ups like 'Unreal Tournament' and the neo-colonialist-conquer-the-world-strategy game 'Risk'.

Maybe his problem is with the medium. Maybe Ruddock doesn't see videogames as `ART', and that's why he decided to get up the Australia Council - or maybe he just can't cope with the idea of freedom of speech.

In any case, the controversy surrounding `Escape from Woomera' has shown that the videogame is ripe for an injection of interesting and progressive ideas that can effect social change.

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PLAYING DISSENT | 3 comments
[new] Escape from Woomera team (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#3)
by KateVWild on Sat May 31st, 2003 at 11:54:51 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
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[new] Critical Games (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#1)
by TreborScholz on Mon May 5th, 2003 at 12:38:30 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
(User Info)

Growing up in East Germany the only computer games that I ever heard of were on imported "West" computers. The paranoid East German government was highly suspicious of these silly little games as they suspected them to be installed in order to distract our workers: Games as weapons of the Cold War?
Today, games are usually the first thing I delete if I get a new computer- simply because I know that I will otherwise be glued to them for days. But recently I came across a few games that definitely sound remarkable. Your "Escape from Woomera" is definitely one of them. Do you know where I could get it? At the Future of War conference at the New School in NY on May 2 and 3 one panelist talked about realism in games like America's Army in comparison to the Syrian game Under Ash,that was accorrding to the panelist's description a Palestinian computer game showing the battlefield from the side of the Palestinians. A person in the audience asked why all these games, even if they demonstrate a degree of criticality, repeat the violence of war, the adrenaline of shooting seems necessary to these game creators. The audience member called for critical, engaging, non-violent games. An entire panel at The Future Of War was dedicated to "The Virtual Battlefield: Computer Gaming, Modeling and Simulations." Find out more on their site.
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PLAYING DISSENT | 3 comments

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