In Lebanon, First Use of Games As an Election Campaign Tool

June 15, 2009 -

Here at GamePolitics we lay no claim to understanding the complexities of Lebanese politics.

But we do note that Lebanon-based WixelStudios has launched what it says is the first use of games for a political campaign in the troubled nation. From the company's website:

For the first time in Lebanon, games are used as an election propaganda! ...

Wixel Studios produced an interactive animated documentary for the Liberty Front... in addition to the documentaries you will find four games accompanying to the stories.

The four browser-based mini-games, which are nicely varied in presentation, involve themes in which the player does battle with Syrian forces. Based on its Wikipedia entry, Lebanon's dealings with Syria is a prime concern of the Liberty Front.

Check out the games here.

1 comment

Satirical FPS Targets Iranian President

May 27, 2009 -

A new first-person shooter which its publisher describes as "hysterical" and "outrageous" drops players into a fight with virtual Iranian forces; its ultimate mission is a face-off with Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Durka 3D: Quest for Ahmadinejad takes its name from the faux Farsi spoken by the puppet characters of the 2004 comedy film Team America: World Police. A press release from Petrilla Entertainment describes the downloadable PC game:

Durka 3D: The Fall of Ahmadinejad is a full-fledged fast-action shooter that lets the player hunt down the Iranian dictator...


Scenes include bunkers filled with crates labeled "Not a crate destined for Iraqi insurgents," or missiles that say "Made in Russia," as well as battles where the enemy hurls insults at you in gibberish...

Designer Jesse Petrilla's last effort was Quest for Saddam, an FPS hunt for the late Iraqi dictator. Islamic radicals subsequently used the Quest for Saddam engine to create a video game riposte, Night of Bush Capturing, which was widely criticized in the West. Given the history, it seems likely that Durka 3D will spark criticism from Iran, if not another instance of turnabout.

Commenting on his game via press release, Petrilla said:

Durka 3D goes beyond the politics surrounding the conflict. I created Durka 3D to attack a tyrant with Saturday Night Live type satire to relieve some of the stress many of us share.

GameCulture has more.

20 comments

Can Muslim Superheroes Turn Islamic Youth Away from Radicalism?

February 16, 2009 -

With an increasing emphasis on fantasy entertainment provided by mobile phone games, comic books and TV, there is some hope that radicalism will become a less attractive path for Islamic youth.

Wael El-Zanaty, an exec with the Egyptian firm behind cell phone game Bab el-Hara, told the Associated Press:

The best thing about this game is that this is something that Arabs can relate to. It’s about part of [Arab] history — the resistance to the French occupation [of Syria]... We wanted something that reflected our culture... developed with an Arab perspective.

The AP explains:

The Arab world’s private sector is leading a push to provide Muslim and Arab youth with homegrown heroes, as a bulwark against the trend toward radical Islam throughout the Middle East.

Clearly, superheroes won’t offset all the problems that stoke radicalism — anger at corrupt Arab regimes and at Israel over its treatment of Palestinians — but El-Zanaty said he hoped these pop culture characters could give young people a positive image of themselves as Arabs.

Meanwhile, Naif al-Mutawa, publisher of The 99 comic book superhero series, offered his view on how media can help deliver positive role models for Arab youth:

Our [Islamic] story has become [more] about what not to do, than about what to do. I wanted to … go back to the same sources others have pulled out a lot of negative ideas from, and pull out positive, tolerant, multicultural, accepting ideas.

I’m not trying to sell religion here. I’m trying to sell the idea that at the values level, we’re all the same...’  I really think that we [Arabs] limit ourselves with this catastrophic thinking that the world is controlled by others and there is nothing we can do. I think this is rubbish.

Mobile phone apps may be the ideal platform upon which to deliver the message, said Ayman Shoukry of the Good News Group:

[In Egypt alone] there are 40 million mobiles. We don’t have 40 million [other types of] devices anywhere in Egypt."

18 comments

Kuwaiti Imam Urges Creation of Games to "Slaughter Jews"

February 2, 2009 -

In a 2006 interview with Kuwait TV, an Islamic religious leader issued a call for computer games which require players to "slaughter Jews."

We don't have the exact air date of the video at left, although a Washington Post article from September of 2006 references the video.

We're presenting it now because this is the first time that GP has located the actual footage. Among Imam Nabil Al Awadi's remarks:

As their games corrupt our morals, now they are making games with their current wars.

Their wars, that are not Islamic, in Islamic countries have turned into a computer games. When the child plays, he adopts a character that is not Islamic, that kills Muslims.

Why, gentlemen, should it not be the opposite? Why can't we produce a few games like these? Why can't we make games that instead of teaching children how to slaughter the Muslims, they can teach them how to free the Al-Aqsa mosque. The child will play and slaughter Jews and others.

Not only children, but adults too, will kill heretics and free the Al Aqsa mosque. There are games with pit battles, it's nice!

Along with Al Awadi's comments, a narrator shows clips and explains Islamic-themed battle games.

GP: While the clip is somewhat dated, it shows the extent to which video games are seen by some as a vehicle to politicize - and militarize - youth.

Via: Jumpcut

54 comments

Upcoming Strategy Game Designed to Show Islam in a Positive Light

January 28, 2009 -

A Syrian developer is creating a game that it hopes will boost the image of Islam, reduce tensions with the West and encourage pride among young Muslims.

That's a pretty tall order for a computer game.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that Al-Quraysh, due for a September release, is being developed by Damascus-based Afkar Media. From the CSM's description, it sounds like the type of build-and-fight game that will be instantly familiar to Western fans of the historical strategy genre:

Al-Quraysh is a strategy game that tells the story of the first 100 years of Islam's history from the viewpoint of four different nations - Bedouins, Arabs, Persians, and Romans.

One can choose to command any of the armies of the four nations or lead the army of the main character, Khaled Ibn Waleed, a Muslim warrior who defeated the Roman and Persian empires and never lost a battle. Or one can play the role of the Bedouin sheikh, who must earn the respect of his tribe. The player has the task of building and protecting trade routes and water sources, building armies, conducting battles, and freeing slaves.

Akkar Media exec Radwan Kasmiya commented on the game:

Al-Quraysh is going to help people in the West better understand the people who are living in the East. We want to show that this civilization was a sort of practical and almost heavenly civilization...

I get very embarrassed by the way we [Muslims] are showing our civilization. There were rational laws that were governing Muslims at that time [on which the game is based]. This allowed this civilization to last for a long time and to accept the other civilizations that they came in touch with...

 

Most video games on the market are anti-Arab and anti-Islam. Arab gamers are playing games that attack their culture, their beliefs, and their way of life. The youth who are playing the foreign games are feeling guilt... But we also don't want to do [a game] about Arabs killing Westerners.

Via: Inside Arab Gaming

36 comments

Latest Gaza Conflict Game is Pro-Israeli

January 14, 2009 -

In recent days GamePolitics has covered web games propagandizing the current Gaza conflict from both the Israeli and Palestinian viewpoints.

The latest of these is Iron Dome which takes the Israeli perspective. Along with a Missile Command-esque interface, Iron Dome offers three levels of difficulty as well as several links offering the Israeli version of the issues behind the conflict.

GP: Thanks to GamePolitics reader Itamar for the tip!

26 comments

Arabian Anti-Piracy Alliance Site Hacked

January 13, 2009 -

The Arabian Anti-Piracy Alliance apparently does a crackjack job of clamping down on bootleg IP in the Middle-East. But as far as protecting its own website?

Not so much...

TorrentFreak reports that the news section of the AAPA site fell victim to hackers and remains unfixed as of this report. The brag posted by the hackers (left) is dated January 6th.

From the TorrentFreak report:

While the AAA might do a good job at protecting the intellectual property of their clients, preventing their own website from being hacked seems to be a real challenge. For days now, the news section of the site has been stripped of all its content, displaying the following message: “hacked by ashiyane security team”.

When it comes to securing websites, anti-piracy outfits seem to fail time and time again. Last year, the RIAA website got hacked, and the IFPI and a Lithuanian anti-piracy outfit both lost their domain names to BitTorrent sites after they failed to renew their registrations. Perhaps they should consider investing a few of their hard earned dollars in a proper sysop.

7 comments

State Department Official Meets with Egyptian Students in Second Life

January 12, 2009 -

New World Notes reports that State Depatment official James Glassman (in avatar form at left) will hold a virtual meeting with student journalists in Cairo this morning.

Among other issues, Glassman, who serves as Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, is expected to field questions about the current Israeli-Hamas conflict in Gaza.

DIP's Dispatches from the Imagination Age reports that USAID is funding the event.

No Second Life account? Catch the video simulcast.

UPDATE: DIP has a video of the event.

1 comment

Web Game Takes Israeli Side in Gaza Conflict

January 11, 2009 -

As GamePolitics reported last week, Israel's invasion of Gaza has spawned protests in Second Life as well as a Flash game with a distinctly pro-Palestinian view.

The latest online game inspired by the conflict, however, is very much pro-Israeli.

Save Israel is a simplified, Missile Command-like game which seems very difficult to win - and that appears to be the designer's point. When it's "game over," a splash screen advises the player:

It's very hard to save Israeli citys from Hamas's rocket, so we must defend ourselfs

User comments to the game on its Kongregate page reflect the strong division of opinion generated by the conflict.

Via: Enduring America

87 comments

Wii Game of Gaza Conflict (Satire)

January 9, 2009 -

The current Gaza conflict continues to be portrayed in game imagery.

Earlier this week GamePolitics looked at Raid Gaza!, a web game which harshly criticizes the Israeli incursion. We also reported on anti-Israeli protests in Second Life.

Humor site CAP News has posted a parody report on Gaza Under Fire, a fictitious Wii game that would allow players to fight as either the Isaelis or Palestinians.

The concept behind the game is that players insert their Mii characters into the Middle East conflict... and then choose whether to go on the offensive against the other side or help protect their own people. The game utilizes both the Wii remote and nunchuck and incorporates updates from the Wii News Channel to keep the game current...

 

Some, like [fictional professor] Spaulding Wang, see the game as an educational tool...

"Rather than try to explain to my daughter something I just don't get, why not have her take Israel's side and blow up some civilians in Gaza, and then take Palestine's side and do the same to Israel," Wang said. "Then she can form her own opinion about who she thinks is right, and share that with her fellow first-graders."

 

4 comments

Author Salman Rushdie Gamed While Dodging Decade-long Fatwa

January 5, 2009 -

There's no word on what he played, but Sir Salman Rushdie told UK newspaper The Times that he indulged in some computer games while dodging a fatwa issued by Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini from 1988 until 1998.

Khomeini lodged the death sentence against Rushdie following the publication of his 1988 novel, The Satanic Verses. The book was regarded as blasphemous by some segments of the global Islamic community.

GameCulture notes, however, that Rushdie was rather dismissive of games in a 2008 interview with Stephen Colbert:

I think video games, YouTube, you know, these are the things that will change the world. Because when people see what garbage everybody else is consuming, they want it too.

17 comments

Iran NOT Joining ESRB

December 29, 2008 -

A report that Iran was "joining" the ESRB received wide play on game news sites last week. However, that information appears to be erroneous.

When the story first broke, GamePolitics immediately questioned the report, which originated in the Tehran Times.

We also put in a request to the ESRB for clarification. Spokesman Eliot Mizrachi took time from his holiday break to respond to GamePolitics:

Our ratings apply to games available at retail in the U.S. and Canada. No membership is required to submit games to ESRB.

 

Companies from other countries may submit for rating if the game is to be sold in the U.S. and/or Canadian market... Our ratings apply to games sold in the U.S. and Canada only...

 

We have not had any discussions with Iran about their adopting our rating system.
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11 comments

Iran Adopting ESRB Ratings?

December 26, 2008 -

There is a somewhat curious report in the Tehran Times which says that Iran is "joining" the ESRB.

One interpretation of this is that the Iranian government will henceforth require that games sold there carry ESRB ratings. Another possibility is that the Iranians are instituting their own rating system and using "ESRB" generically, in the same way that xerox is commonly used to refer to copy machines.

We're guessing the latter, since comments from an Iranian official involved in the project indicate that some sort of local editing process took place. From the Tehran Times:

The managing director of the National Foundation for Computer Games Behruz Minaii announced that Iran will be joining the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) next week...

Minaii added that the idea of joining ESRB was initiated last year and since then, 20 experts from different religious, psychological, social and media organizations have worked on compiling the project.

“Afterwards, several members of the Guardian Council and scholars of the Qom Seminary and different universities of the country did the final editing,” he remarked.

The first part of the plan is now ready and the next parts will also be completed through establishing this organization, he stated.

We've got a request into the ESRB for clarification as to any potential involvement on their part.

Via: Kotaku
 

9 comments

Korean MMO Gets Middle-east Make Over

November 30, 2008 -

Rappelz, a free-to-play MMO developed in South Korea, is getting a face lift to bring it into line with the Middle-east's Islamic sensibilities, according to website TechRadar.

[Dubai publisher] Game Power 7... has made a few adjustments to Gala's role-player Rappelz to make it supposedly more appealing to customers in Islamic countries...

 

As well as changing the background music, the noises monsters make (really?) and taking out non-Muslim religious symbols, such as crosses, Game Power 7 has given some characters a little more to wear. We're told that female players will be properly covered up so that they're no longer showing too many flesh-coloured pixels. Arms and legs get special attention, with chainmail and long stockings pasted on.

The new version of Rappelz is online now and aimed at 19 countries that include Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

23 comments

Taliban Burns Down Pakistani Video Game Shop

November 21, 2008 -

GP sister-site GameCulture, citing Indian newspaper The Hindu, reports that Taliban thugs burned down a video game shop as part of a sweep through the Swat Valley in northwestern Pakistan.

Stores selling videos and electronics were also attacked.

 

 

43 comments

Game Censorship Fuels Game Piracy in Saudi Arabia

October 31, 2008 -

Is piracy ruining the video game market in Saudi Arabia?

That's the spin coming from the Arabian Anti-Piracy Alliance at this week's Dubai World Game Expo. But, as GP sister-site GameCulture explains, it is actually game censorship by the Saudi government which pushes gamers into pirating the titles they want.

AAA official Scott Butler claims that Saudi officials aren't doing enough to combat piracy:

In the UAE they are sending pirates to prison a lot, whereas in Saudi Arabia there has never been a judgment like that for any kind of pirate. When they mete out the judgement of imprisonment, that's when the market will finally crack.

But, as GC editor Aaron Ruby points out:

That might be the first time the Saudi legal system was chastised for being too lenient. And therein lies the absurdity of Butler's proposal... Censorship in that country has effectively driven the videogame industry underground. The kingdom's fear of media that challenges its cultural values has created a thriving entertainment black market, of which games are a key segment...

 

Iran, whose entertainment is also heavily regulated by the state, is also a hotbed of piracy. According to Mehrdad Agah, chariman of Puya Arts Software, 99% of all games sold in Iran are pirated...

 

It's no coincidence that the countries with the highest piracy rates (Saudi, Iran, China) have some of the most draconian censorship policies on the planet. The true counter to piracy is more freedom, not less.

Bonus: In this fascinating article, a Saudi gamer pens a history of game piracy in the kingdom.

8 comments

Ex-Kazaa Guy's Provocative Game Pits Israelis Against Iranians

October 30, 2008 -

An Australian businessman who once was caught up in the legal battle over the Kazaa file-sharing network has launched a controversial, ad-driven war game.

As reported by the Syndey Morning Herald, Kevin Bermeister is the money man behind Rising Eagle - Gaza. The game pits Israel's elite Golani Brigade against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Players can fight on either side.

Bermeister, who is Jewish, told the newspaper that he wanted to "throw out a challenge to Iran." Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has vowed to destroy Israel.

People will get to know each other in a competitive battleground environment, get to text each other, speak to each other, connect with each other and figure out that they're human beings and they can get on with each other...

 

Just like Ahmadinejad is throwing out a challenge to Israel, I think this game throws out a challenge to Iran. Clearly the intent is that the Israeli Defence Force is the futuristic fighting force that is capable of overcoming anything thrown at it, and the challenge is for anyone to come and take a shot.

Rising Eagle has been developed in Israel. Developer Yaron Dotan also spoke to the SMH:

Dotan, 34, was delighted at the suggestion that his game, which includes billboard-size photographs of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad looking like a monkey [see pic at left], might cause offence to Iranians. He describes the Iranian soldiers as "the Waffen SS of today".

"I want this to upset people. I hope it causes the biggest shitstorm in history," he said.

Saddest Picture You'll See Today

August 12, 2008 -

In this Associated Press photo by Maya Alleruzzo, U.S. Army Capt. Charles Ford plays an unknown video game with Wa'ad, a seven-year-old Iraqi boy who lost an arm and leg to an IED near Muqdadiyah, about 60 miles north of Baghdad. From the AP report:

Soldiers from Hammer Company, 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment are arranging for the child to be fitted with prosthetic limbs.

Via: Franklin Now

56 comments

Side-Scrolling Mod Said to Be Terrorist Propaganda Tool

August 11, 2008 -

A site which tracks developments in the Middle East reports that a radical Islamist website has posted a video game encouraging players to battle Americans, Israelis and Shi'ite Muslims.

Of the game, which appears to be a crude adaptation of a side-scroller, MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute, writes:

On July 21, 2008 a member of the Islamist forum Al-Ikhlas posted a video game designed to encourage children to fight against "the forces of tyranny". The game enables the player to shoot at planes marked "Shi'ite", "Jewish" or "American".

 

Throughout the game, inciting speeches by Osama Bin Laden are heard, accompanied by the sounds of explosions and gunfire. The player is exposed to images of bin Laden, Zarqawi and other prominent Al-Qaeda members.

Although we don't know much about MEMRI, the site has in the past been given high praise by David Kaplan, chief investigative reporter for U.S. News & World Report:

MEMRI... does translations of media from the Muslim world, focused on jihadist propaganda and efforts by reformists. The group's new MEMRI Blog serves up news stories, videos, and postings from 60 leading Islamist websites. Hey, where else can you get headlines like "Mega-Evil Zionist Queen Stars in Iranian Sci-Fi Movie"?

GP: Big thanks to reader enbob for the tip!

27 comments

Officially Banned, But God of War 2 Available on Saudi Black Market

August 10, 2008 -

Kotaku reports that PlayStation 2 favorite God of War 2, officially banned by Saudi authorities, is available for purchase on the black market.

In fact, a Saudi reader even describes the process to Kotaku in great detail. It seems that a local mall peddles GoW2 discs concealed inside shrinkwrapped boxes for other games. In the instance described, GoW2 was covered up by box art showing Winning Eleven 7, a several years-old soccer sim. (see pic)

GP: It's nice to see that Saudi gamers aren't totally limited in their choices. And we hope that the store clerk still has possession of his thumbs now that this info is public.

 

37 comments

Saudi Arabia Launches Campaign Against Violent Video Games

July 23, 2007 -

We've not got much detail on this one, but The MEMRI Blog, a site which publishes translated political news from the Arab world, reports that:
 

Government elements in Saudi Arabia have launched a campaign against violent video games, some of which depict war between U.S. forces and Al-Qaeda.


 

This move is part of Saudi Arabia's struggle against sources of violence, in the framework of which security and media elements are warning against the spread of such games.


GP: By the way, MEMRI = Middle East Media Research Institute, and the site is given high praise by David Kaplan, chief investigative reporter for U.S. News & World Report.

 
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Which group is more ethically challenged?:

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
TechnogeekI'll be honest. I mostly just wanted an excuse to use that line.07/02/2015 - 1:13pm
Andrew EisenIt's long scrolled out of the Shout box so here's the article in question if anyone wants to read it: http://www.wired.com/2015/06/rape-scenes/07/02/2015 - 1:05pm
Andrew EisenOh come now, I don't believe Goth said the Wired author shouldn't be allowed to say what he claims she said.07/02/2015 - 1:04pm
TechnogeekWhich really makes it seem like Goth_Skunk's complaints are nothing more than...(•_•) (-•_•)>⌐■-■ (⌐■_■)...crocodile tears.07/02/2015 - 12:22pm
TechnogeekYou know, despite often as I've seen Gators conflate criticism and censorship, it's still kind of ridiculous to see "YOU SHOULDN'T BE ALLOWED TO SAY THAT" as a response to "you probably shouldn't say that unless you can do it well".07/02/2015 - 12:22pm
Andrew EisenI get the feeling Nintendo suspected the same thing would happen with the Wii U.07/02/2015 - 12:16pm
Andrew EisenMecha - Yeah, pretty much the only way you're getting away with a console that's a full technological generation behind is if it become's a full-blown pop-culture phenomenon like the Wii.07/02/2015 - 12:16pm
Infophile(cont'd) That's basically what the article is saying about rape. If you don't know enough about it to handle it well, it's a bad idea to do it, as you'll probably do it poorly.07/02/2015 - 12:06pm
Infophile@Goth, EZK: For example, I could very well try to write a book about the difficulties of living with Fibromyalgia. No one would stop me. However, since I don't know a thing about living with fibromyalgia, writing a book about it would be a very bad idea.07/02/2015 - 12:05pm
MechaCrashI just hope they realize that part of the problem with the Wii U was its relative lack of power. You can still make good games with what the Wii U has, but third parties won't want to deal with it when they can target the more popular PS4/XB1.07/02/2015 - 10:59am
Andrew EisenReplace "NX" with "QOL" and I'd buy it as potentially true.07/02/2015 - 10:51am
Andrew EisenNintendo to start manufacturing NX in October to target a July 2016 launch with 20 million consoles shipped the first year. Sure... http://www.digitimes.com/news/a20150702PD204.html07/02/2015 - 10:47am
james_fudgeLet's avoid name calling in the shoutbox07/02/2015 - 8:55am
E. Zachary KnightThe Daily WTF has a nice run down of some of the impact to software that the US Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage has. http://thedailywtf.com/articles/i-m-not-married-to-the-idea07/02/2015 - 7:45am
MechaCrashGee, how did people ever get the idea Gaters are morons who argue in bad faith? It's such a mystery.07/02/2015 - 7:03am
E. Zachary KnightGoth, again, no one is saying that we shouldn't be writig uncomfortable subject matter. What people are saying is that chances are you are going to write it poorly so it would be better to not have done it at all.07/02/2015 - 7:00am
Goth_Skunkdiscussed or portrayed in an expressive medium. Such an opinion only serves to stifle discussion. And as I said before, the only thing not worth talking about is what shouldn't be talked about.07/02/2015 - 6:50am
Goth_Skunk@Info: The same reason why I would entertain the notion that the Wired article writer could be right: Curiosity. Except in this case, I'm not curious at all. I'm not interested in hearing anyone's opinion on why uncomfortable subject matter shouldn't be07/02/2015 - 6:49am
IvresseI think the problem with the Batmobile is that they made it a core aspect of the game that you have to do continuously. If it was basically a couple of side games that were needed for secret stuff or a couple of times in the main game, it would be fine.07/02/2015 - 5:38am
Infophile@Goth: If you're not willing to entertain the idea you might be wrong, fine. That's your right. But why should anyone else entertain the idea that you might be right? If they go by the same logic, they already know you're wrong, so why listen to you?07/02/2015 - 3:53am
 

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