Middle-east Political Games?


In the past month there has been a bunch of news coverage on the games “Special Operation 85: Hostage Rescue”, and “Special Force 2”. Special Operation 85 was apparently written by an Islamic student association in Iran, and features the rescue of nuclear scientists from American forces. Special Force 2 is a game that addresses the bombing of Lebanon by Israel, and was apparently underwritten by Hezbollah.
I say “apparently” because frankly, the coverage of both these games in the Western media was pretty well laced with hysteria and condemnation, so it was hard to believe completely. Apparently it’s BAD for other cultures to have games against Americans, even though our games and movies used to be laced with “evil” characters from the Soviet Union, and now we have a new evil every year, whether it be Osama bin Laden, or Iraqis, or North Koreans, or Iranians.
So it got me to wondering how much of the coverage was true and how much wasn’t. It’s hard to break through the language and culture barrier and understand exactly what is going on. Were these games similar to American games and movies where we just always need some evil force to go up against? Or were these games designed as propaganda and underwritten by organizations out do to the West harm? Somehow I doubted the latter, but you never know.
So I started digging. I’m still digging. But I found the genteleman in charge of the development studio which did Special Force 2 and I’ve been talking to him over email. He’s based in Lebanon, and he views his development effort as a “serious game” – he is trying to convey his perspective of living in Lebanon, and what the brief recent war with Israel felt like. His development experience is not too unlike that of many independent developers in the U.S. – apparently the game that was released was a demo he had given to his publisher, and his publisher released the game without his permission. It definitely got the game some publicity though, so he is hoping he will now be able to get financing to finish the game. Were they funded by Hezbollah? I’m not sure, we haven’t talked about that. We share a common bond by being game developers, and we talk about game development. But it’s been very interesting talking to another struggling independent developer, who is seeking to make games that express his view of the world – but whose world is very different from my own. I find that fascinating, and not really so different from someone who would make a film, or write a story to express their view of the world. I want to encourage more people to create games that share their perspective on the world, from all around the world, so this has been a great educational situation for me.
I’ll be connecting him up with some Western media so hopefully soon he will do a full interview and you can read it and judge for yourself. I’ll link it from here.
Interesting stuff to be sure.