Escape from Woomera’ opens with three screens of text that explain the game’s background. Players are assuming the role of Mustafa, who paid smugglers to bring him to Australia after his parents had been killed by the Iranian secret police. After the boat transporting him crashed in the Ashmore Reef, Mustafa was brought to the Woomera Immigration Reception and Processing Centre where he was given the identification number “RAR-124”. After three months, Mustafa was informed that his request for asylum was denied, and that he would be repatriated to Iran. Believing that he would be tortured and killed upon his return, Mustafa decided to escape Woomera in search for a safe haven.
Escape from Woomera is a point-and-click adventure game. The player, that controls Mustafa is capable of exploring the Woomera centre that is populated with NPCs that move around the facility on their own. Some of these characters can speak with Mustafa, providing him with information about the facility, sharing their backgrounds or experiences at Woomera, or directing him in order for him to find and retrieve objects scattered throughout the facility. Speaking with characters and completing their tasks allows him to progress towards his goal of escaping.
The game has a meter that tracks Mustafa’s “hope” levels. As he completes tasks that take him towards the goal of escaping, the meter increases at the same time too. By listening to the experiences of fellow detainees in the facility, which in some cases is required to gain access to other information or tasks, drains Mustafa’s ”hope” level-bar. If he is caught breaking rules by the guards, Mustafa then placed in solitary confinement, which also drains “hope”. Should the ‘hope’ meter run out, Mustafa completely loses the ability of continuing on with his attempts of escaping thus, being deported.
Players of all different backgrounds are able to experience the different version of a migrant/refugee and his journey all the way from Africa to Europe in a FPS game-based approach which has been developed through an intense discourse with both refugees, NGOs as well as the Beta-players of the game which helped to its refinement in a better depiction of the cruel reality.
Middle-Easter culture and way of living, experiencing of the harsh difficulties which a refugee/migrant may experience in his search for a better future abroad while striving to escape the purging within his own country. Enhancing the perception and understanding of the migrants’ different situations beyond what we just hear on the news.
Players have to make decisions along the way in order to reach their goal, escaping from the facility that is. It has been based on the real-life experiences of millions of refugees fleeing war or persecution. The events and the story depend on the decisions that the player makes, resulting in a potentially different experience every time that he/she plays.
Middle-Eastern, First Person Shooter, Role-playing (point-and-click adventure), decision-making
Find out more about Escape from Woomera here
Author: Kostas Filippidis
This game enables players to connect with a modern day refugee’s life and explores inhumane and barbaric detention centres in Australia that imprison asylum seekers. The detained asylum seekers await the process of their applications (http://www.netarts.org/mcmogatk).
According to MODDB (Mod Database [https://www.geforce.com/whats-new/articles/mod-db]), “Rewards will be based on unlocking new sections of the game, and a variety of outcomes will become available to the player.” (http://www.moddb.com/mods/escape-from-woomera/). Although MODDB state that a variety of outcomes are available after sections are unlocked, to me, it is not really necessary to offer players a variety of outcomes and I believe players should just focus on one objective.
According to Netarts: “The effective media lock-out from immigration detention centres has meant that the whole truth about what goes on behind the razor-wire at Woomera, Baxter, Port Hedland, Maribyrnong and Villawood remains largely a mystery to the Australian public. We want to challenge this by offering the world a glimpse” of virtual life inside the private detention centre (http://www.netarts.org/mcmogatk). When players learn that Escape From Woomera offers them an opportunity to see inside the detention centre the game might badly influence them into feeling keen to visit the detention centre and see it from the outside even though it is probably risky.
Journalism.co.uk define Escape From Woomera as a “hypothetical interactive documentary” (https://www.journalism.co.uk/news/newsgames). I cannot see Escape From Woomera represented as a hypothetical documentary as the game would not be all about fact. To me it can only be a game or an interactive resource as documentaries have factual focus.
Although Escape From Woomera offers a virtual view of the detention centre inside and was imagined as a “hypothetical interactive documentary”, I believe the game has the potential to promote a documentary about what happens inside the detention centre. I anticipate it is reasonable to show the centre in a documentary but still agree it should be private to people from outside.
Author: Toby Freeman