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You're now in the second day of Cody "Micajah" Bye's stint as Loading... writer. Please bear with me as we continue to press on with our coverage of the MMOG and general gaming industry. But don't bare anything else. Ewww.
To my knowledge, when the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were engaged in their Cold War ballet of threats and subversive action, the U.S. never had to worry about the Soviets making propaganda video games. Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that a group of hard-line Iranian students had developed an anti-U.S. video game with the title: Rescue the Nuke Scientist. In the game, players control a band of Iranian special forces that are trying to rescue husband-and-wife nuclear scientists from U.S. troops that have taken them hostage. Players of the game are required save the scientists â a mission code named âThe Secret Operation" â by penetrating fortified U.S. posts from Iraq to Israel in order to free the nuclear scientists from the clutches of the evil U.S. troops. They must kill U.S. and Israeli troops, rescue the nuclear scientists, and nab a laptop full of information in order to complete the game.
According to the press write-up, the students created the game as a response to a U.S. made video game called âAssault on Iranâ, which would partially vindicate the Iranians for making a blatantly anti-U.S. game, if that were the whole story.
But itâs not.
In typical AP press style, all the background details arenât revealed and the scant information thatâs pertinent to the U.S. side of the story is only slapped on (in part) at the end of the article. The game that the Iranians are referring to is actually a downloadable mission (Mission 58, for those who care) for the ill-received computer game, Kuma\War. (IGN rated it a 6.3, PC Gamer a 3.9, and Gamespot a 4.1). Iâve never known anyone that actually downloaded or played Kuma\War, but the game is based on the premise of developing missions based on real-life news headlines. In these games, the players are typically U.S. soldiers trying to fight their way to complete a certain objective.
Itâs a sensationalist brand of computer game development, and itâs certainly pissed a bunch of Iranians off. However, like the controversy behind the movie 300 (really, thereâs no reason to be upset, that story happened THOUSANDS of years ago), this seems to be just an overwhelmingly harsh response to a game (Kuma\War) and development team that has created over 80 missions, most of which take place in Iraq and feature U.S. troops fighting Al Qaeda operatives. There are even some missions that take place in Vietnam (featuring John Kerry!), Afghanistan, Mexico (are they upset?), Sierra Leone, and South Korea. But the Iranian students donât see it from that point of view.
Ali Reza Masaeli, leader of the group that designed the new game, said it took three years for his technical team to produce it. The team was based in Isfahan, a city in central Iran that houses a nuclear site.
"It is an entirely Iranian product in response to the US cyber war against Iran," Masaeli said.
What cyber war!? I surf the Internet almost every day, and I see more articles about Iranian responses to supposed attacks than anti-Iranian propaganda!
While Kuma\War and all its quickly slapped together missions didnât make much of a splash in the U.S. news, the retaliatory version from the Iranians certainly has. Media outlets everywhere are picking up the newsfeed, yet the story is far from new. On June 9, 2006, Gamespot mentions that a group of Iranian students had started making a game that featured a kidnapped Iranian scientist. In the article, Kuma states that they were going to release Assault on Iran Pt. 3: Payback in Iraq when the Iranian game was released. All of these items were supposed to occur before July 4th last year, as that was when the third part of the Assault on Iran would be released. Over a year later, weâre just now feeling the brunt of the story and we're still waiting for Assault on Iran Pt. 3..
So will there be a new era of video game based propaganda machines? Probably not, unless true AAA development companies begin taking ideological stands on particular issues, and Iâm fairly certain that will never happen. Even Kuma\War, with its in-your-face, ripped-from-the-headlines style, does not make any particular political attack or point. From what I can tell, the developers of the games simply create American troops in close-to-life simulations. Take away the names (Americans, Iranians, etc.) and youâre left with a mediocre shooter. But take away the names in âRescue the Nuke Scientistsâ, and you still have the seething aggression that created that game in the first place.
If players fail a mission, a message pops up saying: "With resistance, you can battle the enemy."
"We tried to promote the idea of defense, sacrifice and martyrdom in this game," Fakhrian said.
For those of you that are actually interested in playing the game, you may have your chance.
Fakhrian said his group was trying to market the video game first in Iran and other Muslim countries. But the group also has plans to bring the game, which comes on a CD for computers, to Western countries, he said.
At the end of the day, this is yet another âcontroversyâ for U.S. video game companies to take in stride. With the Iranians merely ârespondingâ to an initial U.S. âattackâ, there will be no shortage of agitators in the States that will be calling for the removal of all video games from store shelves to âease tensionsâ.
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Have any thoughts on Rescue the Nuke Scientists or Kuma\War? Will this hurt the U.S. video game industry? Comment in the blog (now with direct link goodness) or email me directly.
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Thanks as always for visiting TenTonHammer.com.
Cody "Micajah" Bye