Washington Post: Is There a Video Game War Between Islam & the West?

The USA has America’s Army. Radical jihadists have Night of Bush Capturing.

The episodic military game Kuma War, which features realistic missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran, is an American product. Commander Bahman is its Iranian riposte, depicting fictitious attacks on U.S. forces.

In today’s Washington Post, reporter Jose Antonio Vargas conducts a recon mission of military and politically-themed games and declares that a video game war of sorts is being waged between Islamic and Western designers. Ed Halter, author of From Sun Tzu to Xbox: War and Video Games, agrees:

“There’s a very interesting tit-for-tat going on here, a weird kind of dialogue… And what’s disconcerting about it is that the conversation is often reduced to the lowest common denominator of violent action in games, which is in a way very reflective of the overall way things are going right now in real life.”

Syrian game designer Radwan Kasmiya of Afkar Media also believes the struggle between Islam and the West is being mirrored by games – and Kasmiya doesn’t like some of what he sees:

“We’re the terrorist, the enemy, in these (Western) games… Our games are not propaganda. Our games are a reflection of our history — past or present. The fact is, most movies, most TV shows, most video games put Muslims in a bad light, so we have to try to tell our side of the story.”

Afkar Media is best known for its 2002 game UnderAsh (box pictured), which relates the story of the first intifada from the perspective of a Palestinian teenager.While Western games generally to stick to simulating combat, the Islamic-themed games are more blatantly political, perhaps reflecting the turbulence and deep divisions of the Middle-east. For example, the Washington Post notes that Kuwaiti channel Al-Rai TV recently broadcast a call by Sheik Nabil Al-Awadhi to develop Islamic games to compete with those of the West. Al-Awadhi specifically suggested a game in which the player “slaughters the Jews and liberates the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

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