Are some topics just too taboo to be tackled by gaming?
Last week, a game called Bomb Gaza was pulled from the Google Play store after a public backlash.
The game’s stated aim was to “drop bombs and avoid killing civilians.”
The game drew a slew of negative reviews and commentary before it was taken down by Google Inc, which said it violated its policies.
As of yet, the creator of the game has not responded to requests for comment — though the game has been made available on the developers’ Facebook page.
This is not the only Gaza game that has cropped up in recent weeks.
Gaza Assault: Code Red is another app that was removed from Google Play last week. Another, Iron Dome: The Game, remains available to download at the time of writing.
Whether games can tackle complex issues is a moot point.
Plenty have succeeded. There have been games about Sept. 11, 2001, games dealing with the effects of depression and games about other war zones, including Syria.
Classed as “newsgames,” the genre is generating more attempts to help players understand and empathize with situations covered by the media.
None of the developers of the aforementioned games have classed their games as newsgames, instead placing them with the escapism associated with gaming in general.
In an interview with Sky News, Gaza Assault creator Nir Yomotov said: “It’s nothing sinister; you shoot people who shoot you. It’s like every other game. I don’t want to offend anyone. Games are just another medium, like video. You can use it to make your voice heard.”
Tomas Rawlings of Auroch Digital and GametheNews says there is a difference between a topical game and a newsgame, with one being current and the other attempting to engage the user with a topic and convey information.
“People aren’t used to games being used to discuss serious topics — they’re seen as something fun. But for the generations who grew up gaming, it’s natural for them to express how they feel about the work in the form of a game, much as a singer would write a song and a filmmaker point their camera... I think Israel-Palestine is a great example of where, if you’re going to make a game, you need more than one outcome. Traditionally, you win or lose a game, but this is far bigger than win or lose,” he said.
Arguably, with the same care and precision given to any other medium, it is possible to create a game about the ongoing conflict in Gaza — and it has already been done.
In 2007, a team created PeaceMaker, a game in which players are challenged to “succeed as a leader where others have failed.”
Where other games concentrate on the warfare, PeaceMaker rewards its players for making peace.
Asi Burak, president of Games for Change, created the game over three years with Eric Brown and Tim Sweeney and a group of Carnegie Mellon University students. He suggests there may be a problem in the way mobile publishers like Google Play and iTunes deal with these games.
“Unfortunately, the mobile publishers are not yet sophisticated and seem to make random choices around such content, banning statements that they wouldn’t necessarily ban if they came in written form or in a song. I hope this will change in the near future,” he said.
For Burak, these games can have immense value for those trying to understand both sides of the conflict.
“Games have a number of attributes that makes them excellent for learning, for understanding complex systems and situations, for inviting participation and social action,” he said.
“Perhaps more importantly, games could allow you to view perspectives that are very different than your own, including the ‘other,’” Burak said.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting