A team of 19 Greek game developers have donated their time and effort to create a videogame for international human rights group, Amnesty International. The game is part of the group's ongoing campaign to raise international awareness about human rights violations and push for the global ban of the death penalty.
The game was produced and written by Thanasis Triantafillou, executive produced by Tasos Flambouras, and programming was lead by George Kazamias at the offices of the Hellenic Game Developers Association (HGDA). Incidentally, Triantafillou is a founding member of the association and a member of the board, while Flambouras is its president. Around 18 members from the association teamed up for two months this summer, working together through e-mail, Skype and a handful of face-to-face meetings, to create a "serious game" on behalf of Amnesty International’s Greek branch on the abolition of the death penalty.
"The subject is admittedly heavy for a video game," said Flambouras. "The hardest part was to find an idea that could become a game but not betray the issue. We had seen something developed in the past by a French company for Amnesty International — it showed people being shot by an execution squad and the player had to stop the bullet with his hand. We thought this gave the entirely wrong message — the issue is not as simple as stopping the bullets. We needed an idea that worked for an issue that is so depressing and dire, but that was also fun to play. It also needed to put across Amnesty International’s message without portraying the inmates as angels — they are scum and they’ve committed crimes, but there are other reasons why they shouldn’t be executed."
The end result is Amnesty – The Game, which you can check out at amnestygame.com. The game challenges players to become an Amnesty International advocate for a death row inmate in one of six countries that still practice capital punishment: the United States, Iran, China, Belarus, Mongolia, and Saudi Arabia. It should be noted that the prisoners depicted in the game are horrible people.
The US inmate is guilty of killing two police officers, while the inmate in Belarus is a woman who killed children, and in Iran a woman accused of committing adultery. Among the inmates, there is also someone in the group that is innocent, though guilt is not a factor because the issues is the death penalty.
The first step is opening an Amnesty International branch in the country. Then, the player organizes media campaigns, protests and petitions in order to influence the government’s stance on the issue while also getting the public on the campaign’s side.