Guess what? Slavery: The Game was indeed a bit of viral marketing! Dutch broadcaster Omroep NTR has – somewhat shamefacedly – admitted that the trailer (and accompanying website) were created as part of an advertising campaign for an upcoming documentary series. No, really.
All of the rumours that this was a real game, a racist creation or even a neo-Nazi project have been squashed – it’s merely a little bit of promo for an informative series about history of the slave trade as it affected The Netherlands. The name of that documentary series? De Slavernij – already spotted as an anagram of the game’s “developer”, Javelin Reds.
Carla Boos, editor in chief of NTR, Dutch public broadcaster, apologised:
It was by no means our intention to hurt people with the trailer. We chose this approach to create maximum awareness for slavery in general. Not just for the history of slavery, but also for slavery that still exists today.
With the trailer racking up more than 400,000 views, Boos is actually pleased at the level of controversy it’s stirred up. She explains that the reaction – including wide-ranging discussion across the internet – “really shows” how many people are “still truly concerned” about slavery.
Interestingly enough, a real game has been created to tie-in with the “Junior” version of De Slavernij – Lekker Goedkoop (“Good Cheap”). Steering away from the 18th-Century depictions we saw in Slavery: The Game, Good Cheap instead aims to explain “modern slavery” to young people, using sweatshops to illustrate the sort of situations that lead to those “Good, cheap” clothes.
De Slavernij kicks off on NTR in The Netherlands on September 18th.
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