Editor’s note: Retiming this yarn today for absolutely no reason in particular. — David.
A surreal browser-based horror game starring recently-ousted Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been making the rounds on Twitter since election night.
Called Scotty Goes To Centrelink, it is the story of one unemployed neoliberal man’s journey down the street to the Centrelink office so he can apply for a welfare payment. The game was created by Australian indie developer Colestia, aka David Cribb, who recently uploaded the game to his itch.io page. You may recognise his name. Ruby recently interviewed Colestia about his love of creating video games as political self-expression.
The game blew up on social media over the election weekend as Morrison’s Liberal Party was routed at the polls and schadenfreude reigned.
“Help a newly unemployed Scott Morrison navigate the hellish welfare system that he helped build,” reads the game’s tagline.
And so, Scotty Goes To Centrelink begins.
“Hello, my name is Scotty and I’d like my welfare please!” says Australia’s 30th Prime Minister.
“We can’t just give you free money,” says the Centrelink staffer, “we have to be sure you’re looking for work!”
Your goal becomes dropping 20CVs into special CV receptacles placed by Centrelink around the game’s city environment. The receptacles are wheelie bins. Most of the time they stay where they are, but some of them actively run away from you as you approach.
And then, in the distance, the sound of Morrison’s own voice starts coming back to him. “Get off welfare, get into work,” it says. The phrase repeats, over and over. Soon, you see the source. Giant, disembodied, smirking Morrison heads travel slowly around the streets looking for you. If any of them catch sight of you, they chase you relentlessly. Your only hope is to duck down alleyways and stay off the streets.
If any of them catch you, they will kill you instantly. Even when you are dead, it does not stop shouting “Get off welfare, get into work.”
When you manage to deliver all 20 CVs, you return to Centrelink to discover that, unfortunately, you took so long to deliver the CVs that we’ve now rolled into a new month which means you have to start over.
“Maybe you should try a bit harder,” says the Centrelink staffer. “Do you even want to work?”
As you have this conversation, “Get off welfare, get into work,” intones repeatedly from the horrible Morrison heads patrolling the streets.
This is, of course, wearily familiar to anyone that has spent any length of time on Centrelink in the past decade. Scotty Goes To Centrelink is a perfect encapsulation of the futility and hopelessness of the Australian welfare system. You can’t afford transport and so must walk everywhere. You are given pointless, time-consuming busywork to complete. Upon completing that busy work, you discover some hidden technicality means it doesn’t count or gets your payment cancelled. And the whole time, the people in power shout that you should just “get a job,” or insist that, because you are unable to find work in a saturated market, you are therefore a drain on the taxpayer and a bad person of immense moral failing.
Anyway, Scotty Goes To Centrelink is free, and you can play it right now on Colestia’s itch.io page. It seems it’s taking a while to load for some people but I was able to get it to run in Firefox with minimal hassle. Your mileage may vary.
This piece was originally published on May 23, 2022.
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