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USyd students’ petition has racist game removed

Katie Thorburn reports on the success of an online campaign.

The mobile game “Survival Island 3: Australia” has been withdrawn after a single day of intense effort by key Aboriginal activists and solidarity networks.

The mobile game, which allowed players to “fight with aboriginals”, was created by NIL Entertainment and was available for download through Apple and Google Play for $4.49. Its withdrawal was triggered by a petition created by University of Sydney student Georgia Mantle on Friday evening with the help of other members of the activist group Students Support Aboriginal Communities. The petition had amassed 85,000 signatures at the time of publication.

Survival Island 3 first came to the attention of the broad network of Aboriginal Rights activists when a screenshot was posted to Facebook on Friday at 11.30am by Bathurst resident, Ray Wilson.

Dear brothers and sisters. This morning my nephew came out and showed me a game that you can download free on Google…

Posted by Ray Wilson on Thursday, 14 January 2016

Evelyn Corr, University of Sydney PhD candidate and Bundjalung Woman, then alerted the organising space of the Students Support Aboriginal Communities (SSAC) at 6.42pm. Several members of the  group responded immediately with the suggestion to start a petition.

Mantle created a draft with the help of other members of SSAC before launching it at 8.30pm that evening. News organisations such as New Matilda, DailyMail, ABC and SBS subsequently picked up on the story. Blackfella Revolution also publicised the petition.

Mr Wilson explained the necessity of the petition to Honi: “There was and still is cultural genocide here in Australia against Aboriginal Australians. It is games, media or people like this that actively promote and incite violence against a people or a culture.”

John McGregor, a Gamilaraay man from Collarenebri, decried the insensitivity and ignorance of the developers.

“Would they have got to make a game about the Holocaust?” he said.

By lunchtime Saturday it was announced that Apple and Google Play had removed the game.

Mantle said the campaign’s success demonstrated the effectiveness of online spaces to mobilise solidarity.

I am involved in great activist circles and it really shows the power of social media” she told Honi. “I think Apple and Google Play still need to release a statement explaining how it [the game was] made available in the first place. I hope that these host companies can use this as a learning experience because this should never happen again.”

“For Aboriginal people, using social media means constantly being exposed to discourses and images of racism and violence in which we are the targets. But social media is also transforming the ways in which companies and developers are being held accountable for racism and the commodification of Aboriginal bodies,” said Ms Corr.

Mantle believes racism against Aboriginal people still pervades Australian society.

“Racism is not a thing of the past. Indigenous people are still suffering and we need to do more to fight that,” she said.

Ms Corr has called for more people to become involved in solidarity networks so that they may better understand historical context and engage closer with dialogue on Aboriginal Issues: “It is exhausting to have to remain so constantly aware of these things. By establishing communities of awareness and active critique, we lessen the burden on Aboriginal people to correct these injustices.”