playing games with Iran
Posted by adiamondinsunlight on July 18, 2007
G is dying for a copy of the new Iranian video game “Special Operation 85: Hostage Rescue”, which is the subject of an Agence France Presse article published on Naharnet, in the Daily Star and every other English-language publication in the region, it appears:
Iran on Monday launched a computer game with a strong political message that mixes the standoff over its nuclear program, the mystery of missing diplomats in Lebanon and its hatred for Israel.
Players of the game “Special Operation 85: Hostage Rescue” play the part of a special agent battling to release captured Iranian diplomats and nuclear scientists from the clutches of his U.S. and Israeli foes.
The game has been produced by the Union of the Islamic Students, which was behind the infamous “World Without Zionism” conference in 2005 where President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be “wiped off the map.”
“In this game we are not promoting terrorism and violence. By freeing Iranian hostages we are promoting selfless dependence, devotion to and defense of our country,” said the group’s secretary general Mohammad Taghi Fakhrian.
The eight-level game starts in Iraq, where a young married couple who are Iranian nuclear scientists have been captured by U.S. forces while making a pilgrimage to the Shiite holy shrine in Karbala.
Iranian special operations officer Bahman Nasseri, can intervene to save the couple, named Saeed and Maryam, who have now been spirited away to a prison in Iran’s arch-foe Israel. He slips into Israel and locates their prison.
In a twist, here he finds locked away not only the young scientists but also four other Iranians who in real life have been missing since disappearing in northern Lebanon at the height of the civil war in 1982.
There has never been any official confirmation over the fate of three Iranian diplomats and one photographer. But Tehran believes they were handed over to Israel by Lebanese Christian forces and are still alive.
A successful player completes the eight levels by killing U.S. and Israeli soldiers, stealing their laptops which hold secret information and finally liberating the scientists and the diplomats.
A player operates the Iranian-made AK-47 machine gun of special agent Nasseri, making sure it has enough ammunition and then shooting down enemy soldiers who suddenly pop up in the three-dimensional graphics.
The enemy then falls to the ground and Fakhrian then continues his relentless pursuit of his quarry to the sound of pounding electronic music.
Anyone who loses their “life” in the game is spurred on to try again with the words: “With resistance and help you can battle the enemy.” An Iranian flag flutters in the top right hand corner throughout.
Fakhrian said that the computer game had been inspired by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“The computer games are cultural mediums that have their own positive and negative effects on young people. In our last meeting with the leader he told us to come up with ways to guide our children and students.
“So we went and thought about it and found out that it is computer games which have the most influence on the young people.”
It sounds like quite a game.
Please, can you get a copy of it for me? G asked me last night.
And how do you think I could do that? I replied. Walk through the camps downtown with an Xbox?
I can just see the headlines here, I said. “While Israeli journalists infiltrate Beirut, American academic asks Hizbullah for souvenir kill-the-Americans video game”. My parents would be less than pleased.
The description of this game reminds me of another one I used to hear in Doha. When the khal and khala were new arrivals there, they had no home internet. My uncle could go online at work; my aunt used the internet cafe in a nearby, eponymously titled mall.
My first visit to see them coincided with the last week before and first week of the war in Iraq. Some days we felt comfortable going into the city; some days we were warned that venturing out as obviously American foreigners was a poor idea.
On the days that we did go out, we stopped by the mall to check our email. The internet cafe was a three-aisle open-air affair stuck way back at the end of the mall’s food court. When we or any other women would arrive, the proprietor created a movable “family section” by blocking off one aisle with folding chairs.
It wasn’t plush, but it was fine – and, unlike the cafes I’ve used in Damascus, a “ctrl-h” didn’t turn up a long listing of I-hope-someone-cleaned-the-chair-I’m-now-sitting-in porn sites.
The cafe did attract a healthy crowd of ten-to-fourteen year old boys, though – who couldn’t have been less interested in us. They were engrossed in a high tech computer video game involving extremists and military personnel. I couldn’t tell which side the game favored, but the yells (from the boys) and the gunfire (from the game) were loud and frequent.
If this new game becomes popular in Beirut, I’ll be all the happier that I have internet at home.