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Monday, August 15, 2005

The Terror Of Video Games

And here I thought video games were just violent forms of media capable of creating an entire army of child assassins. Boy, was I ever niave:

Iqra not only sold hatemongering Islamist literature, but, according to The Wall Street Journal, was "the sole distributor of Islamgames, a U.S.-based company that makes video games. The video games feature apocalyptic battles between defenders of Islam and opponents. One game, Ummah Defense I, has the world 'finally united under the Banner of Islam' in 2114, until a revolt by disbelievers. The player's goal is to seek out and destroy the disbelievers."
-- Thomas Friedman, Giving the Hatemongers No Place to Hide

Great. Talk about focusing on the negative. Not that video games can't be designed to deliver political or religious messages, mind you. Although I find it interesting that even Friedman's description is meant to scare us ... although I don't see much difference between what he describes and a game about the Rapture. Pretty much ends the same for disbelievers, now doesn't it?

Worse, according to Slate - the game isn't even overtly religious in theme:

If you ignore the titles of the Ummah Defense games and the occasional in-game messages—"Alhamdulillah, You Destroyed the Command Ship!"—it's impossible to tell that you're playing an "Islamic game." When I destroyed the third of the four command ships controlling the "Flying Evil Robot Armada" in the first Ummah Defense, I didn't ruminate on whether my real-life allegiance should be with the robots. I just thought, only one more ship to go!
-- Chris Suellentrop, The Evildoers Do Super Mario Bros. (thanks gewgaw)

Friedman declares that we also need to shine a bright light on the "truth tellers." Hate to tell you this, Tommy, but you don't do that by exaggerating the truth.


Thomas said...

Amazing: Tom Friedman found a chunk of technology he doesn't like. I thought he'd buy just about anything as long as you could wrap it in "globalization" and a metaphor about flatness.

As an atheist, I have to admit that I find these kinds of games for any religion a little perplexing. Doesn't it seem kind of... trivial... for the subject matter? They always sound like the kind of thing that I'd make up if I were satirizing modern religion.

Josh said...

Religious games are so nascent that it's hard to poke at them as an interactive media, I think. Yeah, I mean I could almost see where some people might find a comparison between say, Mario, and their personal savior to be a bit odd. On the other hand, if their religion is truly part of the world view ... maybe it's not that odd? And yet ... is religion even supposed to be entertainment? I suppose it has been a social hub in the past.

Wonder if Second Life has missionaries hanging around...