ISIS Wants Gamers, Apparently


Real life violence is spilling into our video games!
Screen shot

It looks like the Islamic State is perhaps hoping that the theories that video games either make players more aggressive or lose touch with reality are true. A new recruitment propaganda video released to the Arabic media features ISIS footage filtered to look like the latest Grand Theft Auto installment, mixed with what appears to be footage from the actual game. The Intercept took note of the effort:

Just as in the original GTA, the Islamic State "player" can be seen running around, stealing cars, and engaging in firefights. However, instead of using the music soundtrack that accompanied the original series, the trailer plays clips of nasheeds (religious songs) against this background of video game mayhem. All the while, the Islamic State flag can be seen displayed at the top of the player screen.

The Islamic State was already well known for its sophisticated filmmaking, and many of the scenes depicted in the video appear to be a "gamification" of previous Islamic State propaganda footage, including their hour-long "Clanging of the Swords" film released earlier this year. Though the new video appears to constitute a trailer, there's no indication yet that a real, playable game is in the offing anytime soon. Nonetheless, coupled with the group's release yesterday of a new propaganda trailer directed at the United States, it appears that the ISIS media war is continuing to evolve in new and unforeseen directions.

The video starts with a statement poorly translated into English: "Your games which are producing from you, we do the same actions in the battelfields [sic]." I'm guessing they mean to say they do the kinds of things we do in American-produced games on the actual battlefield. I'm not sure if that's a recruitment tactic or a taunt (possibly both at the same time, given the male psyche). The Intercept has the video embedded here.

To me, the video looks ridiculous. But New York Magazine spoke with a psychologist about how ISIS is managing to recruit disaffected people ready to buy into a fantasized concept of righteousness using slick marketing like this. Read that interview here.