Various media outlets and journalists have lied about the content in Survival Island 3, a mobile game designed by Russian developer Kristina Fedenkova from GF Studio (also known as GF Team). They’re parroting a story and advocating censorship based on a petition containing misinformation about a survival title that’s a sequel to Survival Island 2: Dinosaur Hunter.
At the time of the writing of this article, Survival Island 3: Australia Story 3D has been pulled from the iTunes app store and Google Play.
“The game shamelessly promotes the fact that you will “have to fight with aboriginals” and uses warning messages like, “Beware of Aborigines!” when Indigenous people appear on screen. The game portrays Indigenous Australian’s as violent and aggressive. As well as trying to promote the Indigenous characters as authentic representations of a diverse culture through the description phrasing, “Meet real aboriginals”.
The “Beware of Aborigines!” line is from the app store page, along with the “New Weapon” line, both of which are used on the promotional screenshots but don’t actually appear in the game. In fact when you craft a weapon it’s simply added to your inventory, as evidenced in a video of Survival Island 2 (which is identical to Survival Island 3 save for the name and location). It does not say “New Weapon”.
As you can see in the clip below, the Aboriginal NPCs are standard NPCs and can either be friendly or hostile depending on the player’s actions but it doesn’t say “Beware of Aborigines” when they’re on screen. This is also evidenced in a video from Andrei Plugaru, where no warning messages pop up when the Aborigines appear.
TBCA A petition has been launched to ban a game app that involves a player beating to death an “Aborigine” in a quest to survive in the Australian outback. Survival Island 3 – Australia Story 3D was released last month and costs $4.49 in the Apple iTunes store.
Even still, the media picked up on the petition – no different than what they did with the GTA V petition that resulted in the game getting removed from Target and Kmart in Australia – and they’ve been reporting that the game is about killing indigenous tribes in Australia.
“Just when you think humanity couldn’t get anymore offensive… a newly released app on the Apple iTunes stores – rated for children aged 12 years and up – allows players to beat to death an ‘Aborigine’ during their quest to survive on the Australian continent.”
It’s true that the game allows you to survive in Australia and it also allows you to kill non-player characters in the game, ranging from animals to people. However, it’s a survival simulator and everything and everyone the player kills is done by choice. Despite Player Attack calling for the game to be censored and banned, they still admit that players can either join with the Aborigines or fight against them.
In fact, the official trailer doesn’t even mention the Aborigines, it focuses on farming, resource gathering and hunting animals for food.
Survival Island 3: Australia (free) https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gfstudio.survivalausfree Австралия – это самый большой остров в мире, а ещё это одно из самых опасных мест в мире. Нет, здесь нет войн и стрельбы, но здесь много агрессивных диких животных, которые будут рады съесть тебя на обед.
For added context, the description for the game reads…
“Your goal is to survive. Beware of angry animals, especially if you don’t have any weapon. At nights there is really dangerous, try to hide somewhere. In your own house, for example. Hunt animals or grow plants – you have to eat something. You also have to fight with aboriginals – you invaded their home!”
The Aborigines appear in the game at some point and players will be able to choose to work with them or fight against them, depending on the player’s choices and play-style; it’s not unlike every other sandbox simulator out there.
However, majority of the game focuses on the player surviving in the wild, alone. You can see more than 20 minutes of gameplay below, courtesy of PhoneInk.
I did not “killing Aborigines” in recording gameplay !! Download Survival Island 3: Australia On Android : (Free) https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gfstudio.survivalausfree Description : Survival Island 3: Australia By GFTEAM Australia is the world’s largest island, and also one of the most dangerous places in the world.
It’s like a poor man’s version of Facepunch Studios’ Rust and Beam Team Game’s Stranded Deep. Additional videos on YouTube also reveal pretty much the same kind of gameplay as depicted above; players attempting to fight off kangaroos and crocodiles while building a house and surviving in Australia’s tough climate.
Another near 30 minute video from YouTuber Gaby GamingRO takes place later on in the game. The gameplay consists mostly of making food, weapons and building up the shelter. Still no Aborigines.
Uploaded by Gaby GamingRO on 2015-12-22.
If someone wanted to make a stink about Survival Island 3 promoting animal abuse they would have a much stronger case than the one about it being a racist killing simulator.
Nevertheless, context-free outrage fueled by misinformation from New Matilda’s article has sprouted up a witch hunt against the developers. As noted by Liam Quinn and Lucy Thackray from the Daily Mail [Backup], the petition spread through the media like wildfire and led a lot of people calling for the title to be banned…
“Outraged people began calling on the game to be banned on Friday night and petition was created to force the game to be removed from online stores.”
Sites like the Brisbane Times [backup] and Sydney Morning Herald [backup] followed suit behind the other media outlets; all of whom are parroting the party line: it’s a game about killing indigenous people.
Daisy Dumas from Sydney Morning Herald writes…
“A game that requires players to bludgeon Aboriginal Australians to death has prompted outrage and been removed from stores, raising questions as to how an app that warns players to “beware of Aborigines” was ever allowed online.”
The game does not require you to bludgeon Aboriginal Australians. Unfortunately this kind of inflammatory language has a lot of people up in arms.
An updated article from the Sydney Morning Herald also notes that Australia’s government is getting involved and “demanding” answers. Dumas writes….
“Racial Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane branding [the game’s] hatred “unacceptable”. “It’s unacceptable to see such promotion of violence and hatred against Aboriginal people,” he said, adding that he encouraged people offended by the game to make an official complaint.”
Even the ABC chimed in [Update: Following the publication of this article the ABC recently updated their story to better reflect the status of the situation], yes the same ABC in Australia that lied about #GamerGate.
Unfortunately the game’s marketing in a screenshot that read “Beware of Aborigines” has been used against it and as a tagline to fuel further outrage by news media. It’s almost like Rockstar stating “Beware of cops” on a GTA V poster. Then again, Take-Two would likely use that as a selling point since poor media representation and misinformation have actually helped them make billions on the Grand Theft Auto brand.
Journalist Miriam Cosic admitted on Twitter that she didn’t play the game, do any research, or find out more about the game before joining the crusade to have it banned.
@El_Buzz_O @Pikiran2ku Sure, why not? It brags about hunting them. Also basing my opinion on that of journos who have looked into it.
I can only imagine what they would do if the Bible was a new book on the market and a certain passage about stoning women was made the centerpiece of a smear campaign.
Nonetheless, following the New Matilda piece, Survival Island 3 appeared to be pulled from Google and Apple’s digital distribution services.
Apple told the Sydney Morning Herald that the app is no longer available on their store. You’ll get a redirect to the iTunes main store if you attempt to use the previous iTunes store listing, and if you attempt to go to Survival Island on Google Play the link says that it’s no longer available on the server.
Luckily I was able to catch an archive of when the app was available on their store from a Google listing, which displays the iTunes entry if you use the old app’s iTunes web address. The game is still available on Amazon’s page [backup] as of the writing of this article, but don’t expect it to stay up long now that the media has their narrative train moving full steam ahead.
Survival Island 3 originally launched back on December 15th, 2015 for $2.99 on iOS and Android devices. It’s a sequential entry in an open-world game series that follows the same concept of finding supplies, killing animals for food, and fighting off dangerous predators.
I did reach out to the developer to ask them about the removal of the game from iTunes and Google, and if they choose to respond I’ll provide an update.
Basically, we’re seeing a narrative in the making here no different than what happened with #GamerGate, where the media have cooked up a panic based on misinformation. Yes, there are Aborigines in the game and yes they can be killed. The modifier worth noting is “can”, as in, a choice. It’s no different than choosing to kill cops or civilians in GTA V, or choosing to kill zombies or other humans in DayZ, or choosing to kill any and everyone in Fallout 4 and Skyrim.
It’s becoming frightening for the gaming industry, seeing as how lies from the media and the lack of fact checking can lead to a game being banned based on misconceptions.
And if we’re going to start pulling games because players can choose to kill certain NPCs in that game, we may as well start pulling every game where you can choose to kill a black person, an Asian person, a Hispanic person or a woman.