Why Do They (Virtually) Hate Us?

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If you're a Muslim gamer, and the best shooters on the market (not counting the WWII games) all pit heroic Americans against the swarthy Middle Eastern Other, what do you do? Suck it up and play the games? Or design a game with your kind of heroes?

"UnderAsh," released by Afkar Media in 2002, views the first intifada from the eyes of Ahmad, a Palestinian teenager resisting the Israeli occupation. Last year a sequel was released. A teaser to "UnderSiege," which tells the stories of five Palestinian families during the second intifada, shows a Palestinian teenager being shot on the street; an Israeli soldier appears to pound him with a concrete block seconds later. "Our games are not propaganda," Kasmiya says. "Our games are a reflection of our history—past or present. The fact is, most movies, most TV shows, most video games put Muslims in a bad light, so we have to try to tell our side of the story."

"UnderAsh" is just the least jarring game in a survey of Islamic games with violent themes—other hits include "Quest for Bush," "Jihad Growing Up," "Americans' Hell" and "Bush Hunted Like a Rat." (Jose Antonio Vargas' not-at-all-phoned-in description of the game: "In the final stage, you fight Bush.") Those explicitly anti-Bush games got some "get me my handkerchief" coverage last month, but games like "UnderAsh" are inherently more interesting—they're the creations of fed-up Muslim nerds, not propagandizing Islamists. They've got more in common with Mecca Cola than "Ethnic Cleansing." That is, they're organic expressions of frustration from nerds with a lot of free time, and they're the mirror images of Saddam and Osama-slaughtering games profiled later in the Post's roundup.

Back in 2005, Ronald Bailey offered some thoughts on video violence.

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  1. (Jose Antonio Vargas’ not-at-all-phoned-in description of the game: “In the final stage, you fight Bush.”)

    Does Bush get a cool power suit like Hitler does in Wolfenstein 3D?

  2. interesting how all these games view us as their worst enemy and not the terrorists and insurgents that kill innocents for their fucked-up ideology (not that we lack one…)

    It is, of course, possible to dislike/loathe Bush without seeing him as their WORST enemy.

    Maybe I’m biased because I don’t know exactly what life is like over there but these seem like more apologists for Muslim extremism.

  3. “In the final stage, you fight Bush.”

    Considering President Bush’s military record, doesn’t sound like much of a challenge.

  4. Andy,

    Exactly! Even better, why don’t WE have games where we get to hunt down Bush and other destroyers of freedom? I mean, acting as if terrorists are our worst enemies is kind of silly when we have so many at home we could be virtually killing.

    I think the whole reason they make these games is because it makes the issue very black and white, which is necessary in a killing game like this. Or, more prudently, because they’ll sell more copies that way. Either way, I prefer them killing soldiers on a screen to killing anyone anywhere else.

  5. If you’re a Muslim gamer, and the best shooters on the market (not counting the WWII games) all pit heroic Americans against the swarthy Middle Eastern Other, what do you do?

    I’d conclude that the “if” applies to “all pit heroic Americans against the swarthy Middle Eastern Other,” because apparently it’s just speculation ‘n’ posturing, and not backed up by facts.

    Try searching for “best shooting games” or “most popular etc” and you’ll get enemies who are almost entirely extra-terrestrial aliens, zombies, even Klansmen and cats, very few “swarthy Middle Eastern Others,” who are the exception rather than the rule. One such exception is here: http://www.newgrounds.com/games/shooting.html (go down the list to find it).

    For another example, the “Top-ten xbox shooting games” (and the ‘enemies’ in each):
    http://xbox.about.com/od/toppicks/tp/topshooters.htm

    1: “Halo 2” – Non-human aliens from outer space.
    2: “Doom 3”: Same as #1.
    3: “Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict”: Apparently non-human aliens and gods (?)
    4: “MechAssault 2”: Giant robots.
    5: “Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay”: “Escape from the galaxy’s most deadly prison.”
    6: “Half-Life 2”: Same as #1.
    7: “Far Cry Instincts” “you’ll combat human enemies and much worse as you make your way through the game” on a jungle island.
    8: “TimeSplitters: Future Perfect”: non-human “TimeSplitters.”
    9: “Battlefield 2: Modern Combat” – dunno.
    10: “Star Wars: Republic Commando”: take a guess.

    So where’s all the “swarthy Middle Eastern Others?” Oh wait, he speculated, they must be on the non-online, non-xBox PC games…that’s the ticket!

  6. Mr. F. Le Mur,

    When playing the Dark Side in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (and in its sequel), I killed humans and nonhumans alike, with impunity. One time, I used the Force to persuade a couple of guys to take a walk into a bottomless pit. They weren’t Middle Easterners, though. And, now that I think about it, I guess the “humans” aren’t really humans, either.

    Grand Theft Auto involves slaughtering various American minorities, too, at times, though I can’t recall any Arabs or Muslims being singled out.

  7. Since gaming has matured (players as well), less and less do I find people picking sides based on who they represent. Multiplayer games especially, but even in single player mode, games without the ability to play the “bad guy” receive critical marks.

    When choosing, it’s more important to more people what that side offers (weapons, style)rather then making a political statement.

    Many games have depicted Middle Eastern states, (even fictional terrorist factions), and there’s no evidence there is a need for people to play the other side.

    See:
    Command & Conquer Generals;
    Battlefield 1942 Mod, Desert Combat
    Battlefield 2

  8. mr. lemur forgot f.e.a.r where you kill, uh, cloned soldiers and, uh, ghosts.

    half life 2 is uh, humans and bugs and variations thereof.

    fear is super awesome, btw.

    but outside of rainbow six (and zog help me but i think i might buy the pc version of vegas), there’s a distinct lack of swarthiness – pro or con – in shooter titles. and as far as i can tell vegas has russian or british terrorists or something like that. who knows what sludge will crawl out of the diseased licenses of tom clancy?

  9. Mr. F. Le Mur, In Battlefield 2 and Command and Conquer:Generals you can choose to fight for one of three sides: US, Chinese and a vaguely Middle-Eastern group that obviously represents Al Qaeda. Those are the only ones I’m aware of though, for the most part you just fight aliens. Also, those games don’t really portray any side as the ‘good guys’.

  10. In Battlefield 2 and Command and Conquer:Generals you can choose to fight for one of three sides: US, Chinese and a vaguely Middle-Eastern group that obviously represents Al Qaeda.

    Actually, the “Middle Eastern Coalition” side in Battlefield 2 isn’t at all reminiscent of any terrorist group. It’s a conventional force with tanks, planes, and uniformed soldiers.

  11. I’ve killed thousands playing Saints Row, and I honestly don’t think any of them were Mohammedans. Mostly Latin Americans, as I have been concerned mostly with rolling up the Los Carnales.

    The game has quite the ethnic mix; personally, my favorite homie is Mr. Wong (think the old guy in Karate Kid, only with a machine gun).

  12. LMFAO @ Weigel Projection.

    What I want to know is, after GTA3, GTA: Vice City, and GTA: San Andreas, who is going to make a game where you play a hooker exacting revenge on violent, brutalizing johns?

  13. “Mohammedans.” How quaint, you dumbass cracker

  14. Graphite,

    We do need one, don’t we. There are plenty of games out there where Female leads take their revenge upon their enemies in brutal fashion though. They generally do so while half-naked, but then a chick who goes around slicing people in half can wear what she wants.

    You just have to design the hooker game such that male gamers will enjoy dishing out the punishment to the johns as a superhooker. It’s a for-profit industry and the male gamers are where all the profit lies. It’s also worth noting that the GTA games are a clear satire of pop culture portrayals of ‘urban’ life.

    If you want to play an RPG with the POTUS as the bad guy, play Fallout 2. Older game and turn based, but it and its predecessor or two of the best RPGs ever.

  15. How quaint, you dumbass cracker

    How humor-impaired, you sanctimonious prick.

  16. Fallout 2 also let you play as a female and kill pimps if you so desired.

    You could also get married and pimp out your wife, make porno movies, and hit people in the crotch with a sledgehammer.

    GREAT game.

  17. yforgot that great French game, Grand Chef Otto.

  18. Grand Chef Otto. Sounds like something Alton Brown would come out with.

  19. I would line up for a game where you torture server squirrels.

  20. I would line up for a game where you torture server squirrels.

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