[ by Charles Cameron — an oriental carpet video game, would you believe it? — and one from IS ]
The intersection of war and games is a fascinating one. You may recall the Stone Throwers game, built at the start of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, and set against the backgrop of the al-Aqsa mosque:
It’s a pretty primitive pro-Palestinian game built by a sympathetic Syrian, and you can still play it here.
Far more sophisticated — and utterly unrelated to propaganda, unless and until malicious UFOs attack us in droves — is the 2002 Carpet Invaders game devised by artist Janek Simon:
An Eastern prayer rug ‘lies on the floor’. As opposed to real prayer rugs, its design is not fixed. Using a gamepad, the beholder can fight against the rug by attacking parts of its design. Those who manage to destroy them all go on to a higher level. Playing this game could prompt reflection; this is, after all, a new battle against a rug whose design was once full of significances that have, in the meantime, been suppressed and degraded to the role of decoration. In a perverse way, the game restores life to this ornamentation by turning it into a hostile being that must be destroyed in combat.
Then there’s Hezbollah‘s game, Special Force, from 2003. Shown here is a screen shot from Special Force 2, 2007:
Countering it, there’s Amir Lotan‘s far simpler game Nasralla, which uses a Google Earth map of Southern Lebanon as the backdrop for a whack-a-mole game in which the player takes out the head of the head of Hezbollah:
You can play it here.
Craig Detweiler‘s book, Halos and Avatars, has a chapter on Islamogaming. The Israeli Center for Digital Art has collated a fine set of introductions to “Forbidden Games” with Middle Eastern implications.
Ah, but past is prologue, as the spear-shaker noted. Here’s about the Caliphate game as promised in the title. The story seems to have broken about a month ago…
It is not clear to me yet whether the YouTube video of Grand Theft Auto: Salil al-Sawarem which is going the rounds is simply a machinima made from a game of GTA, or video of an actual IS / Daesh game —
Here’s Fiona Keating in IB Times:
The Isis video is entitled “Grand Theft Auto: Salil al-Sawarem”, which roughly translates in Arabic as “the sound of swords coming together”.
According to Arabic journalists, Isis’s media wing stated that the game aims to “raise the morale of the mujahedin and to train children and youth how to battle the West and to strike terror into the hearts of those who oppose the Islamic State.”
“It’s ironic that they are using Western games to demonstrate their wrongly guided hatred towards them,” said Mufaddal Fakhruddin, an editor at the Middle Eastern branch of video games and entertainment site IGN.
Ironic? Not unless flying western jetliners into western skyscrapers is ironic — or capturing weapons we’ve supplied to their “moderate” opponents, and using them against us.
Al-MonitorThe Islamic State’s media warfare:
IS even produced a game that resembles all aspects of its war against its enemies featuring similar terrain to areas the group is fighting in and audio that reflects its ideology. The game that Al-Monitor inspected is a modification of “Grand Theft Auto” and still has the original logo on it.
“These materials are essential for IS’ recruitment campaigns,” Kayed said. “It’s the best propaganda for their ideas.”