SBS – a network in Australia – aired a three-day television “event” called ‘Go Back To Where You Came From’. It followed “…six ordinary Australians who agree to challenge their preconceived notions about refugees and asylum seekers by embarking on a confronting 25 day journey. Tracing in reverse the journeys that refugees have taken to reach Australia, they travel to some of the most dangerous and desperate corners of the world, with no idea what’s in store for them along the way.”
The video – above – shows an obviously emotional and affecting journey, and I’m told that it made a huge impression when it aired. I’d love to see it, as there’s rarely a reality show I won’t watch, and I love any property that makes an effort to make change through the form. The online simulation (I hesitate to call it game, as there’s not much ‘fun’ to it) developed alongside the show speaks to the motivations of the production, as its intentions, both stated and obvious through gameplay, are to put you in the shoes of someone seeking asylum.
The game does an excellent job of engendering a constant sense of fear and paranoia. Each time you leave a location, there’s the possibility of another encounter with people hostile towards you and your “type,” or harassment by authorities. It is difficult to decide who to trust or what the best course of action might be, and there is constant concern for your loved ones.
If there’s hope that any of this will change quickly or easily on leaving Australia, your assumed home country, it’s short-lived. It was frustrating. It was still hard to imagine how frustrating it would be to actually live through these experiences.
If you come from a background where there’s been a stable government and relative safety for you and yours all your life, the Asylum: Exit Australia simulation is an excellent way to explore a perspective that might seem very far from yours in a familiar setting.
‘Go Back To Where You Came From’ is also available on iTunes.