Government Campaign Used Flash Games To Deter People From Trying To Enter Australia Illegally

Government Campaign Used Flash Games To Deter People From Trying To Enter Australia Illegally

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 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.

Kotaku Australia has 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.


  • I hear if you enter the famous Konami code you can unlock the hidden level and enter Australia as a politicians maid.

  • It is not “illegal” to seek asylum, regardless of how you have to travel.

    Please do not use the LNP’s dishonest, dehumanising language it shamelessly spreads to sell a brutal, monstrous, inhumane policy of institutionalised cruelty and death.

      • It’s not always safe for people to stay in the country they’re in, that’s often a common reason for seeking asylum. And not every country has a system for applying for asylum in other countries, particularly when they’re actively persecuting the people fleeing.

        • You’re telling me that it’s good enough for Australian citizens to holiday in Thailand but not good enough for an asylum seeker from a war torn shithole to apply for asylum to our embassy there? They can apply at the next safest country. There’s no need for them to board a boat unless you have inherently racist views about the quality of non-Australian countries.

          • Are you really that naive?

            1. We discriminate in visas against countries where refugees are likely to flee from. You just can’t get one. Whereas if you’re a rich white person from say the UK getting a visa is a matter of clicking a link. Why do you think refugees don’t just get on a plane? Because WE STOP THEM.

            2. Do you know what the wait time is on refugee applications from other countries? Would you just hang around in danger when you’re fleeing persecution? Of course bloody not.

            3. Dragging refugees out to sea doesn’t save their lives. Sending them back to the persecution they’re fleeing doesn’t save their lives.

            4. The reason we have a covenant on refugee rights is BC in the early part of WW2 countries stopped Jews fleeing the Holocaust, and sent them back to be murdered. After WW2 we realised that was monstrous. Sadly, since then, misled and lied to by right wing politicians, we’ve gone back to being monstrous to refugees again, confident it’ll never be us fleeing persecution ourselves….

          • Are you really that ignorant about how refugee visas work globally?
            Australia in 2015 took in 5000ish refugee visas and we ranked 3rd in the world for total refugee intake. Coming in 1st was America with 50k refugees 2nd was Canada at 10k. Coming in 4th immediately after us? Norway with 2.2k refugees. 5th was Germany at 2k. 6th was Sweden at 1.8k. 7th was the UK at 1.7k and 8th was Finland at 900 people across the entire year of 2015. The total amount of refugees assisted by the UN was 81k for the year of 2015 and the world’s population was sitting at 7.3 BILLION. Is the pattern sinking in yet? Are you going to go crying to Germany for only taking in 2k people compared to their 81 million population when you could be here crying about Australia’s imaginary sins? No, because you have no idea how the system works in the first place and no idea that we’re already one of the top countries taking people in per capita compared to the useless scrubs over in Europe.

            The simple reality is that NO ONE in ANY country takes in large amounts of refugees because it takes time to verify who these people are before we let them in. The countries who people like you give the most crap to, i.e. America and the USA, take in far more refugees than any of the useless whingers over in the EU or the ones bleating in the UN affiliated countries in Europe. So no, “we” don’t discriminate, we do more for refugees than most of Europe combined as far as granting refugees visas are concerned and we’re a fraction of the size.

            If you’re going to come out with the evils of Australia, maybe you should try reading the real statistics provided by the UN instead of the propaganda coming from the countries who’ve done literally nothing to help refugees for decades.

          • *Canada and the USA. Those are also total numbers for the yearly intake, not per capita.

            My life for an edit button.

    • I strongly disagree with offshore processing and what the LNP has done, But i also think stopping people coming by sea is also a good thing. So many have lost their lives at the hands of illegal people smugglers. We should drive refugees to methods of asylum that don’t fund criminals and puts their lives at risk.

      • Sadly you’ve fallen for the bullshit.

        Sending refugees back to danger doesn’t save lives. Dragging them out to sea doesn’t save lives.

        The reason they get on boats is we refuse them visas to come safely. The way to save lives is to stop doing that.

        We don’t, because this was never about saving lives. It’s about being selfish dickheads and driving refugees away so they’re someone else’s problem. Or just die.

        • So you want to save refugees lives, but on the same hand, you don’t want to stop the method of arrival that was previously responsible for killing a lot of them.

          I want refugees to be able to claim asylum here safely.

          • Don’t just blame ‘muh libnats’, Labor is just as culpable in this, from the actions they took in government during the Rudd and Gillard years to supporting ‘bipartisan’ legislation under the current LNP regime.

            Australia is an island – that they take boats to get here shouldn’t be such a surprise. Were we to share land borders with other countries like the Europoors, they’d be coming through in lorries or other means.

            The reason they take the boat is because of the notorious amount of time it takes for anyone to get through UN processing – no thanks to wealthy nations’ aversion to supporting it, especially if they’re coming from failed states or collapsed governments. Nearly 10 years is how long they spend in camps on average – a decade in a crowded camp without access to quality education, childcare, or even proper housing is no condition any child should be raised in.

            The Australian public rarely cares about refugees until they show up on our shores, as we’ve seen with the Dutch, Jewish, other Europoor diasporia and Vietnamese refugees in the 20th century. Or more recently, the Nadesalingam family and the countless Afghan refugees the Australian government has failed.

    • The only people ‘selling’ anything are the people smugglers making both a figurative and literal killing off tricking illegal immigrants.

  • Why not just publish the entire list of wildlife that’s always trying to kill you here. That will discourage anyone from immigrating.

  • This would be fine and dandy – were it not for the fact that Ceylon has shit internet. Most people access the internet through their mobile phone plans and usb dongles than dedicated connections.

    The odds of the actual Ceylonese illegals they’re gunning for seeing this are fairly low.

    It’s a good idea in 2009 (ignoring the obvious lack of internet access back then), but flash has been killed off by the dominant Amerikkkan internet browsers, and isn’t supported on mobile devices. Pretty retarded move on the bureaucrats’ part.

    Just pay for more of those cool horrorscope ads they put up near popular people smuggling sites. It would have been cheaper and without the constant cost of maintenance.

    • It turns out they were not flash games, but rather html-based, developed using Cocos Creator. C’mon mate, couldn’t you have at least snooped around the webpage’s html?

      Most interactive games on websites haven’t been flash-based for a while now. Considering how simple these are, and that Cocos Creator is free, I’d posit that they were developed in-house.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!