BBC: Syrian Journey
After four years of civil conflict in Syria, BBC developed a computer game, Syrian Journey, which is an interactive adventure. The game invites players to make choices and routes if fleeing from Syria to Europe. Mamdouh Akbeik and Eloise Dicker developed Syrian Journey after an extensive research and reporting on the Syrian conflict. Players can choose between a male and female character. They can travel by either land or sea through Turkey or Egypt. A wrong choice of route could lead to death. You can lose your family if captured by human traffickers or end up dead in the Mediterranean Sea as a refugee. You can be sold from one militia group to another depending on your choices. The intention of this game was to sensitize the public to the real issues and choices that refugees face in case of civil conflict.
Criticism of BBC’s Syrian Journey
The Syrian Journey has faced criticisms from journalists and social media users. Most critics argued that BBC reduced a violent conflict that led to hundreds of thousands deaths to a children’s game. As soon as BBC launched the game, critics used social media platforms to raise their concerns. Some posted that the idea that BBC had reduced human suffering to a game was sickening and unimaginable. Daily Mail and The Sun were among the first news websites to criticize the game. The traditional line of thought that games are designed for children and not adults was common among critics. According a BBC spokesman, the game achieved a million hit every week despite the sharp criticism.
Defense of the Syrian Journey
BBC defended its decision to develop and publicize the game on its website, which was also supported by refugee charities. The Corporation argued that the game creates awareness of the decisions that Syrian refugees have to make each day. The game shows the outcome of each decision as well. The game is based on real-life stories narrated by Syrians refugees. BBC argues that the game helps its audience interact with the news, especially on sensitive issues such as human suffering. On the argument that games are designed for children, BBC through its correspondents argued that millions of adults play different games every year.
The Refugee Council supported the game indicating that many UK residents have never faced a similar conflict as Syria that would force them to flee their homes. The game introduces them to the lives of refugees. The Council’s support of the games was also fueled by the fact that UK had resettled less than 200 refugees despite the human suffering in Syria. The Refugee Council hoped that the game would trigger a demand for better immigration policies that would allow the UK government to resettle more refugees.
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