U.N. Investigator Condemns Drone Attacks, Fears “Playstation” Mentality

June 2, 2010 -

A United Nations Investigator has called for the cessation of CIA-directed drone strikes on suspected Islamic militants, warning that such remote killings could lead to a “PlayStation” mentality.

Philip Alston, a "U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions," believes that drone attacks should only be carried out if circumstances make it impossible to capture a suspect alive and, if drone strikes do need to be used, only regular U.S. Army personnel, armed with “proper oversight and respect for the rules of war,” should control the craft, according to a Reuters report.

Alston, who will present his opinion to the U.N. Human Rights Council tomorrow, stated:

Because operators are based thousands of miles away from the battlefield, and undertake operations entirely through computer screens and remote audio-feed, there is a risk of developing a 'Playstation' mentality to killing.

5 comments | Read more

U.S. Military’s “Human Terrain Mapping” Concerns Anthropologists

June 2, 2010 -

The growing reliance of the U.S. military on high-tech recreations of foreign villages and their inhabitants has some social scientists concerned.

A Boston.com story on the subject begins by outlining the work of University of Pennsylvania engineer Barry Silverman, who has been funded (by an unnamed U.S. agency) to the tune of over $500,000 in order to recreate a 3D computer model of an actual village in Afghanistan. Silverman is supplied with data from U.S. Army social scientists, who interviewed residents of the actual village.

Dubbed “human terrain mapping, it’s hoped that this technology can assist the U.S. in fighting terrorists and insurgents, but the whole idea has Hugh Gusterson, a George Mason University anthropologist, concerned. Gusterson asked, “Are we going to detain someone if a computer predicts that he will become an insurgent?"

He continued:

3 comments | Read more

Florida Man Charged with Exporting PS2s to Fund Hezbollah

March 2, 2010 -

A Florida man is free on bail following charges that he funded terrorism by shipping Sony PlayStation 2 consoles to Paraguay.

Khaled Safadi of Doral, a suburb of Miami, was the recipient of an eleven-charge indictment from federal authorities for shipping the game consoles and digital cameras to the Galeria Page Mall, located in Ciudad del Este, between 2007 and 2008. The Miami Herald reports that Treasury Department officials believe that the shopping mall is a front used to fund the activities of Lebanese-based Hezbollah.

Safadi reportedly sold $720,000 worth of PS2s and cameras to the mall. Authorities said that he provided false addresses on invoices in an attempt to hide the shipments. Safadi was granted release on a bail of $1.55 million, but will be confined to his home.

Speaking to a judge, Safadi’s lawyer stated, “He is being accused of shipping a children's toy to Paraguay. It's a shame that the government has pumped this thing up as a terrorism case.”

Ulises Talavera and Emilio Gonzalez-Neira were also arrested for their part in forwarding the freight to the South American country. The operator of the Paraguayan mall store in question was not charged.

The arrests, on February 18th of this year, were a result of an investigation by Custom and Immigration officials in conjunction with the Joint Terrorism Task Force of the FBI.

Safadi is a Paraguayan citizen with U.S. residency.


|Image from the New York Times|

13 comments

Leaked Modern Warfare 2 Footage Shocks

October 28, 2009 -

Game play from the upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which appears to cast players in the role of a terrorist, has caused a maelstrom on the Internet.

While Activision has been extremely active in trying to get the footage off of the Web, clips still appear on a variety of websites.

Warning: if you were planning to play the game without knowing anything about it, these videos definitely contain spoilers, so watch at your own risk.
 
CNN’s iReport still has a 3.00 minute plus video up, showing a group of characters, dressed in civilian clothes with body armor over top, emerging from an elevator into an airport and wantonly gunning down a group of (what appears to be) civilians. Another disturbing image shows a non-player character attempting to drag another injured NPC to safety, only to have them both gunned down by the player. The group of terrorists then systematically marches through the building killing and finishing off any people still left in their path.

OnlineGamingEurope has much the same footage, but with a little differing overlap, showing the group of terrorists emerging from the airport and killing people on the tarmac in the shadow of an airplane.

Comparing officially issued screenshots with the leaked footage, along with other visual cues, GameSpot verified, to the best of their knowledge, that the footage is from the actual game. Activision’s full-scale attempts to take down the videos appear to back up GameSpot’s claims.

GameSpot further compared the rampage shown in the video to the killings that took place in Mumbai, India last year.  The gaming site speculates that the terrorist mission might be one of an undercover nature for the player, who must contribute or blow his cover.

What’s different about this bubbling controversy is that even some gaming websites are questioning whether or not this takes things too far. OnlineGamingEurope wrote that they found the footage “hard to stomach.” GameSpot added that, “The brutal nature of the airport massacre and the ever-sensitive subject of terrorism might prove a toxic mix, publicity-wise, if the mainstream media decides to pounce on it.” The Escapist asks, “Tell me that this doesn't have "moral outrage" written all over it.”

IndustryGamers was a bit more reflective:

It'd be easy for Infinity Ward to simply have a non-interactive cut scene depicting parts of this terrorist action, but by putting players into the middle of it, it makes the actions much more real and the consequences more tangible; it's hard not to get a lump in your throat as innocents are being shot down in your gunsights.


GP: The context of the footage is still unknown, and while it could even be a dream sequence or flashback, players do man the guns and pull the trigger. What makes the footage so striking is the level of visuals in Modern Warfare 2, as even in blurry online footage the action looks almost real, taking this a level beyond the cartoonish violence of games such as Grand Theft Auto.

Thanks to everyone who sent this in, we saw it too!

72 comments

September 11th Remembered in Second Life

September 14, 2009 -

The eighth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States did not pass unnoticed in Second Life.

New World Notes links to about a dozen assorted SL events commemorating 9/11 and offers this comment:

[T]he reflecting pool pictured above [is] the creation of Liam Kanno... in real life a New York ad executive who lived near Ground Zero, but after the terror attacks, joined a monastery and created the Second Life site, as part of his healing process.

 

Liam's memorial site is where I just met Mark Benelli... He describes himself as a firefighter in real life, based in Germany. He doesn't know any brethren based in New York, but he wore his uniform and visited the memorial site, to pay tribute to their valor on that day...


City Sued Over Shutdown of Controversial Video Game Exhibit

June 9, 2009 -

The New York Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the city of Troy, New York and its Public Works Commissioner suppressed free speech by shutting down a controversial video game exhibit in March, 2008.

GamePolitics readers may recall our extensive coverage of the politically-charged situation surrounding Iraqi-born artist Wafaa Bilal. His Virtual Jihadi exhibit employed a modded PC game which included a mission to blow up then-President George W. Bush. Bilal said that the exhibit was intended to express his view that U.S. policy in Iraq helped create terrorists.

Bilal, a U.S. citizen and a faculty member at the Art Institute of Chicago, was invited to display his work at Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute in Troy but was abruptly ordered off campus after the school's College Republican Club raised objections to the game. Bilal was then offered space to display Virtual Jihadi at a nearby gallery, the Sanctuary for Independent Media.

The gallery, however, was suddenly shut down for building code violations by Troy's Public Works Commissioner, Robert Mirch (left). Mirch, who is named as a defendant in the suit, had earlier led a demonstration protesting the exhibit. He called the suit politically motivated.

The Albany Times-Union offers comment on the suit from Melanie Trimble of the NYCLU's Capital Region Chapter:

City officials cannot selectively enforce building codes to shut down an art exhibition they find distasteful. Mr. Mirch abused his authority to suppress the free speech rights of people he disagree with, an unconstitutional act that must be challenged.

According to the Times-Union report, the NYCLU seeks a court order to block the city from using its building code to infringe on civil rights. The suit also seeks damages on behalf of the non-profit which owns the Sanctuary for Independent Media as well as for the gallery's executive director. The NYCLU has posted a press release on the suit.

DOCUMENT DUMP: Grab a copy of the complaint from the NYCLU website...

35 comments

Fox News on Rendition: Guantanamo

June 4, 2009 -

Fox News offers its take on the cancellation of Rendition: Guantanamo, including an interview with Pete Hegseth of Vets For Freedom.

Hegseth, who served with the U.S. military in Iraq and as a guard at Guantanamo Bay, was also interviewed by conservative newspaper the Washington Times:

[Rendition: Guantanamo] looked like to us a blatant attempt to twist reality and change the perception of the American soldier...

 

We need to keep [pressure] on guys like [former Guantanamo detainee] Moazzam Begg and what they are trying to do in rewriting history at Guantanamo: That our troops are oppressors and that the detainees are all victims.

28 comments

Guantanamo Game Project Halted in Wake of Controversy

June 3, 2009 -

In a surprising turn of events, development has ceased on Rendition: Guantanamo, apparently forever.

The sudden announcement was made earlier today by Scottish firm T-Enterprise and comes following a day of backlash in the wake of media reports about the alleged terrorist background of Moazzam Begg (left), a key consultant to the project.

In a statement released earlier today, T-Eterprise director Zarrar Chishti blamed press coverage  by U.S. media:

Unfortunately, much of the speculation regarding the game itself made by various publications and websites has been inaccurate and ill informed... [The game] was never designed to be “propaganda” or “a recruiting tool for terrorism”. Neither was it designed to glamorise terrorism as has been reported.

First and foremost, the main character was NOT Moazzam Begg... T-Enterprise is against all forms of terrorism... Furthermore, Guantanamo was to be a mercenary run institution and so there would have been NO American military personnel killed within the game...

 

I would now like to refute all suggestions that the game was in any way linked to Al Qaeda. T-Enterprise has never had and would never have a link to Al Qaeda in any way, shape or form... The game was simply designed to be an action video game that adults could enjoy.

However, as a direct result of the extreme reaction that the game and its popular misconceptions have provoked, T-Enterprise has decided to pull out of the project and will not be completing Rendition: Guantanamo.

Damaging press coverage included a blog post by Tom Joscelyn of the conservative Weekly Standard which indicated that Moazzam Begg had strong ties to Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The publication referred to Rendition: Guantanamo as "Al Qaeda's Xbox Fantasy Game."

Conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh also attacked Rendition: Guantanamo yesterday on his radio program, calling the game "disgusting." Noting that Rendition: Guantanamo was being developed for the Xbox 360, Limbaugh linked Microsoft to the project:

This is something that Bill and Melinda Gates -- they have their Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and so forth -- they should be made aware and held accountable if this is something they allow to go forward.  Military families all over the country are just going to be outraged by this.  They have risked their lives to capture these terrorists, and the game dishonors the sacrifice that they've made for our country.  

The game is obviously political...  it's a game played from the standpoint of a detainee and how unfair he's treated and how hopeless his life is and all is lost unless he can escape.  There's already a firestorm of conversation about this that's percolating out there now.

83 comments

Conservative Mag Calls Upcoming Gitmo Title "Al Qaeda's Xbox Fantasy Game"

June 2, 2009 -

Rendition: Guantanamo, an upcoming Xbox 360 and PC game, has come under fire from The Weekly Standard, a conservative publication owned by Rupert Murdoch.

In a blog entry The Weekly Standard's Thomas Joscelyn writes:

One of the more popular former [Guantanamo] detainees is Moazzam Begg, who regularly appears in anti-American documentaries on television... Begg is a big hit with the global left... Begg is upping the ante by trying to win even more hearts and minds with an Xbox videogame...

 

By the sound of it, the videogame will allow users to pretend they are Gitmo inmates shooting at American servicemen... The director of the firm that is producing the game, Zarrar Chishti, denies this, of course, saying that “no US or British soldiers get killed in it.” Chisti claims: “The only ones being killed are mercenaries.”

Right...

Joscelyn writes in detail about Moazzam Begg (left), linking him to reports of jihadist beliefs and Al Qaeda training:

[Begg's] release [from Guantanamo] by the personal intervention of President Bush... was done, many think, as a political palliative to his friend and war supporter British prime minister Tony Blair, who was under much criticism at the time for not demanding immediate release of all British citizens held at Guantanamo...

Begg’s propaganda efforts will now include a disgusting video game in which Begg... gets to target “mercenaries” -- in reality, stand-ins for American servicemen...

Meanwhile, CBS News reports that Zarrar Chisti expects Rendition: Guantanamo to sell well in the Middle East. Begg, who has a financial stake in the game, said that his earnings will be donated to a charity devoted to the rights of Guantanamo detainees.

UPDATE: Gawker reports that Microsoft has denied knowledge of Rendition: Guantanamo. That's a key piece of information, since MS would have to license the game for it to appear on the 360. From Gawker:

In a statement, Microsoft said: "We are unaware of this game and have not been contacted by this developer. As such, we don't have enough details about the game to even comment about it."

More info upcoming...

35 comments

Does Punch-Out!! Character Shout Islamic Phrase?

June 2, 2009 -

A few months back there was a minor uproar surrounding "Islam is the light," a phrase which some people thought they heard uttered by both a talking baby doll and a children's DS game.

In a video posted late last week on YouTube, a man claims that a character in Nintendo's recently-released Wii title Punch-Out!! shouts "Allah Akbar," an Arabic phrase which translates to "God is great."

RevolutionOfCG, who describes himself as a conservative pundit in his YouTube profile, posted the clip of fighter Bald Bull and equates the character's supposed utterance of the phrase with terrorism:

Allah Akbar or God Is Great. For those of you that don't understand the implications of this. Let me put it to you this way. Virtually Every Muslim Terrorist has said this before they blew themselves up or in the case of 9-11, before they slammed into buildings...

Hailing from Istanbul Turkey, if we are to understand the implications of culture, Bald Bull is more than likely a Muslim...

 

Not even 8 years after 9-11 and are we going to accept this phrase in a video game Rated E for Everyone. What do the families of these heinous crimes think of this? Someone out there has to be appalled, I'm certain of that.

The narration of the video includes 9/11 footage of the second plane striking the World Trade Center. As to the phrase Allah Akbar, its Wikipedia page lists a variety of uses other than by terrorists:

This phrase is recited by Muslims in numerous different situations. For example, when they are happy or wish to express approval, when they want to praise a speaker, during battles, and even times of extreme stress or euphoria. It is also used by bombers or suicide bombers before they detonate.

The phrase is said during each stage of both obligatory prayers, which are supposed to be performed five times a day, and supererogatory prayers, which are performed at will...

That's, of course, assuming that Bald Bull actually says Allah Akbar, which is unconfirmed at this point.

Via: VC Review

111 comments

Former Detainee Is Consultant on Upcoming Guantanamo Game

May 26, 2009 -

A British Muslim who spent three years in the controversial Guantanamo Bay detention facility is serving as a consultant on the upcoming Xbox 360 and PC game Rendition: Guantanamo, according to Deadline Scotland.

As GamePolitics reported in March, Rendition: Guantanamo centers around a near-future version of the controversial prison in which mercenaries are in control and scientists conduct experiments on detainees.

Moazzam Begg (left), who was picked up as a suspected Al Qaeda member by Coalition forces in Pakistan, is assisting Glasgow-based game developer T-Enterprise. Begg claims to have been tortured during his stay at Guantanamo. T-Enterprise exec Zarrar Chishti commented on Begg's participation in the project:

We approached Moazzam because it’s very hard for us to know how to design the layout of the prison and he helped. He came up two weeks ago to give his input on what we were working on...

Due to the controversial subject matter, T-Enterprise appears eager not to step on any official toes. Deadline Scotlan reports that the developer had sought advice and permissions from law enforcement and political officials. Chisti explained:

There are certain rules we can’t break after meeting politicians so we are not making the game too extreme. We have had a lot of hate mail about this, mainly from America...

 

But no US or British soldiers get killed in [the game]. The only ones being killed are mercenaries. We have set it in January 2010 because that’s when we think the camp will be closed. We are making a statement. We did not want Guantanamo to be forgotten.

Begg, who wrote a book about his time at Guantanamo, has a financial stake in the project. He spoke of his time detention:

I was put in solitary confinement with no access to the outside world and no explanation as to why I was being detained. My wife gave birth to my son six months after I was arrested and I saw him for the first time when he was three years old. It would be wrong to say I’m not angry but I’m willing to forgive 1000 times over...

The only thing I am concerned about it making sure the game does not misrepresent the prisoners. This will not demean the reality of Guantanamo but it could bring those issues to people who would not usually think about it.

19 comments

Japanese Copyright Boss Calls DS Piracy Terrorism

May 26, 2009 -

A leading copyright enforcement official in Japan has likened individuals who pirate Nintendo DS games to terrorists.

tech.radar reports that Yutaka Kubota (left), who heads Japan's Association of Copyright for Computer Software, made the comment to Famitsu magazine:

This is an issue that affects our national interests and, personally, I see it as a form of information terrorism that is crushing Japan's industry.

tech.radar also notes that Kubota's organization has close ties to Nintendo. The DS manufacturer claims that 120 million bootleg copies of DS games were downloaded through the end of 2007. Such activity is not illegal in Japan, but pending legislation would make such downloading a crime.

27 comments

Controlling Navy's Anti-terrorist Weapon System Comes Easily to Gamers

May 20, 2009 -

The U.S. Navy is equipping some of its vessels with Israeli-made Mini-Typhoon 12.7mm remotely controlled machine-guns.

The 370-pound system, which can be fired by an operator in a remote location, holds 230 rounds, sufficient for 25 seconds of rat-tat-tat. Strategy Page notes that the weapon is an effective defense against small boats such as those used by suicide bombers.

So, who might the Navy turn to for Mini-Typhoon duty? Gamers, reports Strategy Page:

The Mini-Typhoon uses a day/night vidcam and a stabilizer. The remote operator has an automatic target tracker, and can easily hit small boats two kilometers away... Operators with video game experience can be quickly trained to operate the weapon.

12 comments

Insurgents Contributing to "Six Days in Fallujah" Says Developer

April 14, 2009 -

Just when you thought Six Days in Fallujah couldn't get any more controversial...

The developer of Six Days in Fallujah told attendees at Konami's recent Gamers' Night event that Iraqi insurgents are contributing to the project along with U.S. Marines and Iraqi civilians.

Joystiq's Randy Nelson has a detailed report, including the startling remarks by Atomic Games president Peter Tamte:

It's important for us to say, you know, that there are actually three communities that are very affected by the battle for Fallujah. Certainly the Marines. Certainly the Iraqi civilians within Fallujah, and the insurgents as well. We are actually getting contributions from all three of those communities so that we can get the kind of insight we're trying to get.

I need to be careful about the specifics that I give... I think all of us are curious to know why [insurgents] were there. The insurgents [came from] different countries. And I think we're all kind of curious about you know - they went there knowing that they were going to die... And I think that that's a perspective that we should all understand.

[Insurgents are] involved in the creation of the game as well, as are Iraqi civilians. That's important to us. It's true. The game -- the influences for the game came from the Marines that returned from Fallujah. But quite frankly in talking with them, it's um, many people would just like this to be a recreation and we can't recreate that without getting the perspectives of all the people who were involved.

Although Tamte doesn't give a straightforward answer to whether or not Atomic has actually communicated with insurgents, his comments indicate that some type of input has taken place. It's unclear whether that input was direct or indirect.

The news that there is an insurgent perspective is likely to provoke renewed outrage among some Iraq War veterans as well as families of military personnel killed and wounded in the conflict. Dan Rosenthal, a veteran of the war who now operates the gameslaw.net site, reacted strongly to word of Six Days in Fallujah's insurgent perspective:

Absolutely unbelievable that Peter Tamte and [creative director] Juan Benito would try to make an "entertainment" experience about a war that we're actively fighting, while soliciting advice and input on how to best kill Marines in game, from people who have worked to kill Marines in real life. The hypocrisy and double-speak coming out of Atomic's leadership is beyond unbelievable. 

 

The game is a "communications tool".....a communications tool for who? The insurgency? And then out of the other corner of their mouths, they try to pass the game off as a "telling of stories"; but that's a rude slap in the face to the approximately 100 Marines who died in the battles of Fallujah when the "story-telling" game includes Halo-style health regeneration. I'm pretty sure I don't remember that being standard issue when I was in Iraq.

GP: We're struggling to recall another game that generated this much controversy this early in its development cycle.

90 comments

September 11th Among Influences for Beyond Good & Evil Franchise

April 3, 2009 -

Game designer Michel Ancel has revealed the geo-political influences behind his well-regarded action-adventure Beyond Good & Evil as well as the in-development sequel.

As reported by Eurogamer, Ancel said:

It was a mix of a lot of experiences.It was a phantasm to create an adventure game, a universe too. It was the game I wanted to create for a long time.


There were a lot of inspirations: the Miyazaki universe, my own inspirations, politics and the media; the theme of September 11 - the CNN show with army messages and the fear climate. And it was a mix from other universes.

It's different from Zelda and other titles like that; very good games but they are out of time. [BG&E] was issued of the actuality.

Ancel offered no news as to a release date or system availability for the sequel.

20 comments

His Wii Confiscated, Terror Suspect Asks To Go Back to Jail

March 22, 2009 -

This one's a little strange, but it seems that a former associate of Osama bin Laden would rather stay in a Canadian prison than live under house arrest restrictions which include the removal of his family's Nintendo Wii console.

As reported by the Globe and Mail, Mohamed Zeki Mahjoub (left), an Egyptian, asked a Canadian federal judge to send him back to the Ottawa jail referred to as Guantanamo North.

This is a man who once worked for Osama bin Laden's agricultural company, managing 4,000 employees and one million acres of land in Sudan. Guilt by association? Well, yes. That company was named in the United States indictment against Mr. bin Laden as a financial support for al-Qaeda...

[After 6.5 years in jail] bail came with a set of conditions. He was essentially housebound... He couldn't use the Internet (hence the confiscation of the Wii, which had an Internet connection). His mail was photocopied by the state.

Via: Kotaku

21 comments

In Development: Rendition: Guantanamo

March 20, 2009 -

Aside from the use of two politically-loaded buzz words in its title, we don't know much about Rendition: Guantanamo.

There's only the trailer at left as well as a teaser e-mail from developer T-Enterprise:

This week we are happy to present the teaser trailer for our 3D console game Rendition: Guantanamo.


The release date for the game will be October 2009. The game is being programmed for XBox 360 and Game for Windows format.

 

Without giving too much away at this stage - the game is set in the year 2020. The detention facility Guantanamo Bay has been sold to Mercenaries who now charge Scientists to conduct their un-ethical experiments on living human beings.

 

You play someone who was "renditioned" to Guantanamo by the Mercenaries and is now being subjected to these experiments. No one knows you are here and no one cares. Until now! Someone has managed to slip you a message. You have a son...

UPDATE: T-Enterprise, based in Scotland, is on Twitter, if you're interested in watching for updated info on Rendition: Guantanamo.

17 comments

In Casablanca, Explosion Kills One at Video Game Arcade

March 11, 2009 -

Was it a bomb?

The Associated Press reports that a video game arcade in Casablanca was rocked by an explosion which left at least one person dead this morning:

Hassan Sajeed says the explosion occurred at about 8:45 a.m. in front of or inside a video game arcade on his street, the Boulevard el Joulane.

Sajeed said he believed the explosion was a bomb, and that windows were blown out as far as 40 meters (yards) away.

However, an unnamed official at the Moroccan Interior Ministry said that the blast appeared to be caused by natural gas.

The AP notes that Casablanca experienced a series of deadly terrorist bombings in 2003.

4 comments

iPhone Game Lampoons Airport Security

March 4, 2009 -

Over at Water Cooler Games, Ian Bogost writes about Jetset, his iPhone/iPod Touch game that pokes fun at the bureraucratic nightmare that is modern airport security.

From the description:

The challenges of today's airport security make business and pleasure travel increasingly difficult. Security is there to make you feel safe and get you to your plane in one piece. However, today's regulations change frequently and are often different from airport to airport. Now, you too can stand in the shoes of a security agent trying to avert terrorism while getting everyone through a checkpoint quickly...

Play 100 different airports from around the world... Strip search travelers for fun... Confiscate dangerous travel items like pressurized cheese — all inspired by real events in airport security... Game automatically selects the airport you are in or near based on available location services

Jetset is currently available on the iTunes App Store for $3.99

5 comments

Security Guy: Mumbai Terror Attack a "Video Game Killing Fantasy"

December 4, 2008 -

Over at GamerTell scribe PJ Hruschak is a bit frustrated with a security analyst who likened the Mumbai terror attacks to a "video game killing fantasy."

RAND Corp. analyst Brian Jenkins made the comment during a recent interview with NPR's Talk of the Nation:

We’re talking about a warrior subculture here. And I suspect that those who actually carried out the attack certainly were convinced that going down shooting was better than secretly planting bombs in public places... This in a sense for them was an opportunity to demonstrate their conviction, courage, although it doesn’t require a lot of courage to gun down unarmed people, but it becomes a kind of a real-life video game killing fantasy for the actual attackers themselves.

Jenkins probably meant no offense, but his remarks will likely rile some gamers. Hruschak explains:

Taken out of context, that sure sounds like Jenkins is a gamer hater. Really, he’s just trying to give a visual way of describing the attacks for an aural media. It’s more trying to describe the psychological state of the terrorists rather than specifically likening games to terrorist acts.

Even so, describing bombings as “unmanly” (inferring that gunning down innocent people is manly), indicating these terrorists are part of a “warrior subculture” and that “going down shooting” is a “a more attractive ending” and then summarizing it all as a “real-life, video game killing fantasy” should not sit well with many gamers.

After all, how many people has Cooking Mama, er, Mario killed?

25 comments

Video Game Voice Actor Wounded in Mumbai Terror Attack

November 27, 2008 -

The CBC reports that a Canadian voice actor with video game experience was among those wounded in yesterday's terror rampage in Mumbai, India.

Michael Rudder was one of two wounded Canadians who were part of a delegation on a trip to India...

 

Rudder, who has worked in film, theatre and television, is a voice performer who has played roles in cartoons, commercials and video games, including top sellers Assassin's Creed and Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3. He has also performed in the animated PBS series Postcards From Buster.

Rudder's other game work includes:

  • Far Cry: Instincts
  • Prince of Persia: Warrior Within

GP: Thanks to GamePolitics reader Sean Bustin for the tip!

57 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

In Parliament, Vaz Debates Suicide Bomber Game, Praises New Game Violence Study

November 7, 2008 -

This week, GamePolitics has been tracking public outrage over Kaboom: The Suicide Bombing Game, a no-budget affair created by an amateur and posted online.

While the game is admittedly in very poor taste, there's not a lot to be done about it. As a non-commercial offering, Kaboom is not subject to any content rating requirements. And, since it is hosted outside the U.K., it would seem to be beyond the reach of English law.

But such logic has never been known to stop British Labour MP Keith Vaz, who has now taken his objections to Parliament. Vaz had the following exchange yesterday with MP Harriet Harman, Leader of the House of Commons:

Vaz: Has my right hon. and learned Friend had the opportunity to look at early-day motion 2416? (quoted):

[That this House condemns the creation of the online computer game Kaboom which asks the player to replicate the actions of suicide bombers; believes that this game is offensive to the families of those killed by suicide bombers and devalues all human life; further believes that this game depicts an unnecessary level of violence; is deeply concerned that vulnerable people under the age of 18 are able to access and play this game; calls upon the game's creator to show sensitivity and responsibility by removing it from the internet; welcomes the findings of a new study from Iowa State University which recognises the link between violent video games and aggressive behaviour; and calls on the Government to revise its regulation of violent video games.]

[The motion] refers to an online computer game called "Kaboom", which asks players to replicate the actions of a suicide bomber. Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that that is offensive to the families of the victims of suicide bombings and that it devalues human life? I have raised this matter on several occasions at business questions and in other debates. What action are the Government taking to remove such material from the internet or, at the very least, to approach service providers to ensure that they take appropriate action? Children and young people will be able to have access to those games. Could we have a debate on this important matter?

Harman:
The Government are concerned about the effect on children of violent internet and video games, which is why we commissioned the Byron review. That set out how we need action from parents, from the industry itself and from the Government to ensure that there is proper control of content and clear labelling to protect young children. I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend's long-standing interest in these issues, which he had even before he became Chair of the Select Committee on Home Affairs. Under his leadership, the Committee has taken a strong interest in such matters. I bring to his attention the fact that on Thursday 13 November, in Westminster Hall, there will be a debate on the question of harmful content on the internet and in video games.

GP: Vaz is referring to the game violence study published by Dr. Craig Anderson earlier this week. Anderson's work has been challenged by Dr. Chris Ferguson of Texas A&M

GamePolitics will be tracking Parliament's game violence debate on Nov. 13th.

British MP Vaz Erupts Over Suicide Bombing Game

November 6, 2008 -

A British video game industry official recently credited Labour MP Keith Vaz's public criticism of Manhunt with helping to drive sales of Rockstar's bloody game.

Vaz is seemingly at it again.

The Daily Mail reports that Vaz has expressed outrage over Kaboom: The Suicide Bombing Game. As GamePolitics reported recently, the amateur game is freely available online, although not from commercial video game industry sources.

In fact, we hadn't heard of the game until recent coverage by British tabloids. However, comments made by Vaz are helping to spread the word:

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee, said the game contained an ‘unnecessary’ level of violence and offended relatives of those killed by suicide bombers...

 

He also said he was ‘deeply concerned’ that vulnerable users under the age of 18 are able to play the game...

The Israeli Embassy in London is also understood to have complained. Scores of Israeli citizens have been killed by suicide bombers in recent years.

Vaz has called for a ban on the game. However, as a non-commercial product it is not subject to the U.K.'s game rating process. In any case, because it is hosted on at least one U.S. site, it would seemingly be beyond the reach of British law.

GP: While the previously-obscure game is certainly in bad taste, we thought Conservative MP John Whittingdale took a more sensible approach:

I find this game tasteless but I don’t think it will necessarily start turning people into suicide bombers. But those whose lives have been affected by suicide bombings I imagine would find it upsetting.

UPDATE: Dvorak Uncensored notes that a website operated by racist fringe group the Aryan Nation now links to the game.

UPDATE 2: The game has come in for a mention in the Arab press.

40 comments

bin Laden Bodyguard Can Turn a Sega Cartridge into a Bomb

November 4, 2008 -

There were some pretty awesome games on the old Sega Genesis.

Some bombs, too.

But an Al Qaeda operative apparently taught himself how to turn a Genesis cartridge into a real bomb, as the New York Times reports:

They were called the Dirty 30 — bodyguards for Osama bin Laden captured early in the Afghanistan war — and many of them are still being held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Others still at the much-criticized detention camp there include prisoners who the government says were trained in assassination and the use of poisons and disguises.

One detainee is said to have been schooled in making detonators out of Sega game cartridges. A Yemeni who has received little public attention was originally selected by Mr. bin Laden as a potential Sept. 11 hijacker, intelligence officials say.

It's unknown whether a Sega cartridge bomb was ever actually used in a terrorist attack.

Via: Kotaku

Posted in
23 comments

British MP Keeps Amateur Suicide Bombing Game in Perspective

November 4, 2008 -

British tabloid the Daily Star gets itself worked into a tizzy over an amateur online offering, The Suicide Bomber Game.

The free online game, which can easily be accessed by children, shows graphic images of body parts being splattered across the town. Yesterday, it was branded “sick, callous and upsetting” by the Bali Bombing Victims Group, who want it removed from the internet.

One member, Susanna Miller, who lost her brother Dan in the 2002 attacks which killed 202 people, said: “It’s callous, inappropriate, irresponsible and deeply offensive. I find it disturbing... I appeal to any sites featuring this game to remove it. It’s completely sick."

While Ms. Miller's sentiments are completely understandable, it's cheap journalism to call up someone who lost a relative to a suicide bomb and then ask them how they feel about a suicide bombing game. Apparently, that's how the Daily Star rolls.

Kudos to Conservative MP John Whitting­dale (left) who keeps things in perspective. It would have been very easy for Whittingdale to turn the Daily Sun's question about this obscure little title into a highly-publicized whinge encompassing video games in general. Whittingdale told the tabloid:

I find this game tasteless but I don’t think it will necessarily start turning people into suicide bombers. But those whose lives have been affected by suicide bombings I imagine would find it upsetting.

11 comments

D.C. Metro Rider Complains About Fallout 3 Ads

October 25, 2008 -

A man who rides Washington, D.C.'s Metro underground rail system has written to the Washington Post to complain about poster ads for Fallout 3 which appear in the Metro Center station.

Joseph Anzalone criticizes the ads as well as Metro management for accepting them:

In one ad, the Washington Monument and the American flags surrounding it stand ravaged, as if hit by missiles. In another, the Capitol dome is partially caved in, while the rest of the building and the city behind it lie in ruins.

The people of our city do not need a daily reminder that Washington is a prime target for an attack. We do not need a daily reminder of what our worst fears look like. Since any First Amendment objection would be irrelevant (the ads do not present a true viewpoint or political message and would therefore not be protected), there is no reason for these ads to be part of our daily panorama.

The ads should be removed, and the appropriate office at Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority should be directed to exercise better judgment regarding what can be displayed in our transportation system.

GP: Whether the ads are in poor taste is a matter of opinion, but Anzalone gets his constitutional argument wrong. The First Amendment protects more than "true viewpoints" and "political messages". That's why they call it free speech.

40 comments

Pentagon Paranoia? How Terrorists Might Use WoW to Nuke White House

September 16, 2008 -

Planning a high level raid is tough enough in World of Warcraft, but a Pentagon researcher warns that al Qaeda could plan a nuclear attack on the White House via the popular MMO.

Wired's Danger Room reports that  Dr. Dwight Toavs, a professor at the Pentagon-funded National Defense University laid out such a scenario at the National Intelligence Open Source Conference in Washington, D.C. last week:

...two World of Warcraft players discuss a raid on the "White Keep" inside the "Stonetalon Mountains." The major objective is to set off a "Dragon Fire spell" inside, and make off with "110 Gold and 234 Silver" in treasure. "No one will dance there for a hundred years after this spell is cast," one player, "war_monger," crows.

 

Except, in this case, the White Keep is at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. "Dragon Fire" is an unconventional weapon. And "110 Gold and 234 Silver" tells the plotters how to align the game's map with one of Washington, D.C.

 

... details are a little fuzzy. The terminology doesn't match World of Warcraft lingo, all that precisely. There is no "White Keep" in World of Warcraft; "Dragon Fire" is a spell in EverQuest, the old-school role-playing game, not WoW. But the banter is reminiscent enough of World of Warcraft talk, to give outsiders an idea of how such a conversation might go down -- and how hard it would be to identify.

But Steven Aftergood of the Federation of the American Scientists was skeptical:

This concern is out there. But it has to be viewed in context. It's the job of intelligence agencies to anticipate threats and counter them. With that orientation, they're always going to give more weight to a particular scenario than an objective analysis would allow. Could terrorists use Second Life? Sure, they can use anything. But is it a significant augmentation? That's not obvious. It's a scenario that an intelligence officer is duty-bound to consider. That's all.

For his part, Toavs believes that anti-terror operatives may have to go undercover in games like WoW.

GP: This issue comes up periodically from the counter-terror community. Usually, Second Life is the main suspect. But would terrorists really go to all the trouble of using WoW as an assembly area when IMs, PGP-encrypted e-mail and steganography are readily available?

Besides, wouldn't WoW-playing terrorists become addicted like everyone else and neglect their jihad?

Finally, We've reported previously that Middle-East expert Juan Cole has dismissed the MMO terror cell notion:

What's the real game here?

...The notion that wandering around such an imaginary world with a computerized body is dangerous to anyone seems itself cartoonish and calls into question the public hand-wringing by security experts.
 

 

56 comments

9/11 Memorial Held in Second Life

September 12, 2008 -

A 9/11 remembrance was held in Second Life yesterday on the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.

As reported by The Click Heard Round the World

There were 70-80 other avatars present... Most folks sat on the grass in respectful silence, restricting communication to instant messages.  A couple of avatars in soldier's uniforms stood at attention. Believe it or not, it means a lot for a bunch of avatars to sit in silence.  It just never happens...

 

On the audio stream, starting at 8:45AM EST (when the first tower was hit) and for several hours afterwards, the names of all the victims of 9/11 were read out by various members of the Second Life community... You could hear people's voices breaking in the midst of reading the seemingly endless list of those lost...

 

68 comments

Burn Center Game Trains Docs for Mass Casualty Events

September 4, 2008 -

The Orlando Sentinel reports on the development of Burn Center by 360Ed, a local startup. The training game is designed to teach medical professionals who are not burn experts to deal with mass casualties from an event such as an explosion

The Sentinel notes that 360Ed partnered with the University of Florida College of Medicine and the Florida Department of Health on the project. 360Ed CEO Ben Noel, formerly of Electronic Arts:

September 11 awakened us to the fact that we have to prepare for these mass-casualty type of events, and the best way to prepare is modern technology, simulation and games. Instead of simulating it in a field experience, which can be very expensive, we are simulating it on a computer, which can be played over and over...

 

They said, 'If we give you a playbook, can you make like a Madden football for mass-casualty emergency response?' I said, 'Yeah, we aren't creating any new technology here; we'd just be taking content to places it hasn't been before.'

As the game begins, players are told that bombs have just exploded at a theme park:

The first phase is a race against time in which the player has to quickly assess and triage 40 victims. The second phase takes place in the intensive-care unit, where players make treatment decisions during a simulated 36-hour period. To get training certification from the American Burn Association, players must reach a certain score.

 

Burn Center isn't for the faint of heart. The game features screaming people, many of whom have gruesome burns and are covered in blood. In fact, some of the 360Ed team had a hard time looking at the real photos provided by UF to ensure the graphics in the game were realistic.

 

10 comments

 
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Poll

How do you usually divide up your Humble Bundle payments?:

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
Matthew WilsonI have said it before net nutrality will not be made in to law until Google or Netflix is blocked, or they do what they did for sopa and pull their sites down in protest.04/23/2014 - 8:02pm
Andrew EisenGee, I guess putting a former cable industry lobbyist as the Chairman of the FCC wasn't that great of an idea. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/24/technology/fcc-new-net-neutrality-rules.html?_r=204/23/2014 - 7:26pm
Andrew EisenIanC - I assume what he's getting at is the fact that once PS3/360 development ceases, there will be no more "For Everything But Wii U" games.04/23/2014 - 5:49pm
Andrew EisenMatthew - Yes, obviously developers will eventually move on from the PS3 and 360 but the phrase will continue to mean exactly what it means.04/23/2014 - 5:45pm
IanCAnd how does that equal his annoying phrase being meaningless?04/23/2014 - 5:09pm
Matthew Wilson@Andrew Eisen the phrase everything but wiiu will be meaningless afer this year becouse devs will drop 360/ps3 support.04/23/2014 - 4:43pm
Andrew EisenFor Everything But... 360? Huh, not many games can claim that title. Only three others that I know of.04/23/2014 - 3:45pm
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/23/another-world-rated-for-current-consoles-handhelds-in-germany/ Another World fulfills legal obligations of being on every gaming system under the sun.04/23/2014 - 12:34pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://arstechnica.com/gaming/2014/04/steam-gauge-do-strong-reviews-lead-to-stronger-sales-on-steam/?comments=1 Here is another data driven article using sales data from steam to figure out if reviews effect sales. It is stats heavy like the last one.04/23/2014 - 11:33am
Andrew EisenI love RPGs but I didn't much care for Tales of Symphonia. I didn't bother with its sequel.04/23/2014 - 11:21am
InfophileIt had great RPGs because MS wanted to use them to break into Japan. (Which had the side-effect of screwing NA PS3 owners out of Tales of Vesperia. No, I'm not bitter, why do you ask?)04/23/2014 - 10:52am
RedMageI'm still disappointed the 360 never broke into Japan either. It had a bevy of great RPGs in the late 2000s.04/23/2014 - 9:48am
TheSmokeyhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/22/call-of-duty-swatting-hoax_n_5195659.html?utm_hp_ref=canada&ir=Canada CoD loser calls SWAT on person who beat him04/23/2014 - 7:13am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/23/xbox-one-reaches-japan-on-september-4/ Just give it up, Microsoft. You're NEVER going to be big in Japan, especially now that the notoriously clunky in Japan Kinect is MANDATORY.04/23/2014 - 7:10am
Cheater87Has this been posted yet? http://www.destructoid.com/blogs/Lord+Spencer/ssv-saudi-arabia-bans-bravely-default-because-it-promotes-pedophilia--272016.phtml04/22/2014 - 9:31pm
ZippyDSMleehttp://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/133898-Fatal-Frame-V-Coming-Exclusively-to-Wii-U04/22/2014 - 8:50pm
Matthew Wilsonit is a game worth playing if you have a pc/360/ps304/20/2014 - 9:34pm
MaskedPixelantehttps://twitter.com/IGLevine/status/457552538343325696 The Lutece Twins show up in some of the most unlikely of places.04/20/2014 - 2:44pm
Andrew EisenAs it happens, Chinatown Wars is the only GTA game I've played.04/19/2014 - 10:43am
Papa MidnightWith GTA5 (to date) failing to even provide indication of a PC release, I'm realising that this might be the first GTA game that I have not played (outside of Chinatown Wars) since the series inception.04/19/2014 - 8:14am
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician