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A Gaming War Between Islam and the West? 321

The Washington Post has up an article looking at a burgeoning venue for political expression: gaming. Between 'The Quest for Bush', Counter-Strike mods, and more serious titles with a political slant, the political arena is quickly claiming gamers for their own. It's not just politics either; there are some excellent titles being released that attempt some truly insightful social commentary. From the article: "'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.'" Commentary from GamePolitics is also available.
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A Gaming War Between Islam and the West?

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  • by krell ( 896769 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @04:30PM (#16369401) Journal
    " 'Our games are not propaganda,' Kasmiya says. 'Our games are a reflection of our history -- past or present."

    This coming from the guys whose history includes the "fact" that the Holocaust did not happen.
    • Yes, but (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Travoltus ( 110240 )
      While they're guilty of holocaust denial, we're constantly guilty of "them swarthy people"ism.

      Recognizing the Palestinians' side of things is not the same as hating Israel.

      I cheered for Israel when they went to get their kidnapped soldiers back, but I also feel Palestine should have their own territory, and be treated under the same rules of conduct as every other country.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by CRCulver ( 715279 )

        I cheered for Israel when they went to get their kidnapped soldiers back, but I also feel Palestine should have their own territory, and be treated under the same rules of conduct as every other country.

        The problem is that the Palestinians don't accept that. They have been offered their own state and a place at the table of nations time and time again, and have always rejected it because the Palestinian political parties (and all too many everyday Palestinians) openly call for the destruction of Israel.

        • That's the Palestinian political parties, and they are unforgiveably extremist.

          My policy to defeat them would be to send aid to their people when they need it, and avoid dealing with their Government.

          But the fact that the Palestinian political parties preach hate doesn't nullify the fact that the West promotes hatred of them. Like I said, the approach is to be nice to their people and let their leaders rot in their hate; eventually the people will tell them to buzz off and if Israel participates, this "hate
          • You can't distribute aid directly to the people in an efficient way. That's why Africa is starving even though the world often has a surplus of food. You have you go through a government somehow, and often they are corrupt.

            We've shunned Palestinian leaders for years and Israel has assassinated a good number of them. Hasn't changed the situation.

            I disagree that only the political parties are responsible. Look at the sheer number of people who will turn out in the streets for Israel hatefests. Ask backpacke

        • by BeeBeard ( 999187 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @05:47PM (#16370689)
          The problem is that the Palestinians don't accept that.

          Do you have sources for this? It's a rhetorical question, of course, because how could you have reliable sources for something you just made up? The fact is, Palestinians (regardless of their party) have always wanted back that which was taken from them. It's neither an unreasonable nor extreme request.

          There is a saying that goes "to the victor go the spoils." And that is exactly what happened in Palestine after WWII. The Jews transformed American and British sympathy after the Holocaust into a greedy land grab. They didn't ask for part of the land that is holy to three different major religions. They didn't ask for sanctuary in a land that is holy to three different major religions. No, they took it all and displaced the native people who had been living there.

          No matter how hard you try, you can't unmake history and injustice with rhetoric. In case the history of the last century escapes you, there once was a sovereign nation called Palestine. Then the U.N. passed a resolution, and Palestine was magically turned into Israel. And all the people who once lived there were herded up and sent to slums and refugee camps, where they have remained for three generations and counting--their land, their homes, and their property all stolen from them, their situation grim.

          And you have the balls to label these people "extremists"?

          • So you think that just because someone's grandfather did something wrong to land that belonged to your grandfather, it's okay to kill them? Where does it end then?

            The two-state solution that was tantalizingly close to realization in the late 1990s was the only way that the matter could be dealt with fairly for both sides.

            • That's a pretty reductive way of looking at the situation. Consider this for a moment. The displaced, post-Holocaust Jews could have found safe haven in most of Europe, the United States...the Bahamas...hell, anywhere they wanted to go. Instead, they asked the U.N. to un-make an entire, separate nation and to settle there. This was done knowing full well that it would destabilize the Middle East, and that it would invite the ire of no less than 13 other nations in the region that were different from the
              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                by CRCulver ( 715279 )
                Again, many of these people had nothing stolen from them. Those born in refugee camps or in other countries never lived in the land being contested, so how could it belong to them? It belonged to their grandfathers, that's all. My great-great-great grandfathers lost the Confederacy, does that mean I can grab a gun and start shooting Yanks?
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Stone Pony ( 665064 )
                  As a matter of interest, do you also believe that European galleries and museums should give the families of holocaust victims the brush-off with regard to the ownership of art looted by the Nazis, on the basis that "it belonged to their grandfathers, that's all"?
              • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

                by PHPfanboy ( 841183 )
                >The displaced, post-Holocaust Jews could have found safe haven in most of Europe, the United States...the Bahamas...hell, anywhere they wanted to go.

                Seriously, after WW2, Zionism won by default. Most of the European countries did not want "the Jews" and quite frankly, after what happened from our buddies the enlightened Germans, I'm not sure we'd have wanted to have to depend on the mercy of strangers again. Nation states didn't and still don't like minorities.

                > This was done knowing full well that i
                • kinda sorta (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by BeeBeard ( 999187 )
                  I'm a real-life Jew myself (and a lawyer no less, yeah I know..insert joke here), and I would be lying if said that I felt comfortable voicing my opinions on this subject in anything but the most anonymous of ways.

                  I like the way you argue. If you astutely noticed that I've omitted a few key details that would weaken my position and then also emphasized those details that would strengthen it, then, yeah...welcome to the world of rhetoric ;

                  To answer you more qualitatively, sure, most of the Middle East was a
          • by grapeape ( 137008 ) <mpope7 AT kc DOT rr DOT com> on Monday October 09, 2006 @06:19PM (#16371149) Homepage
            Just because the facts seem to get ignored on both sides of this issue:

            A brief history of the area now known as Israel...

            The Cannanites were there first and were defeated by the Israelites

            The Israelites were defeated by the Babylonian empire

            The Persian empire under Cyrus the Great(which by the way was not Muslim) then defeated the Babylonians

            Alexandet the Great and the Greek army then took the land from the Persians

            The Greeks then gave Israel back to the Israelites

            The Romans then conquered Israel

            The Byzantines are given Israel when the Roman Empire is divided

            The Arabs of Arabia drive out the Byzantines

            The Turks then ruled on behalf of the Abbasid Caliphate of Baghdad

            The European Crusaders then took the land from the Turks

            The Ayyubi dynasty took the land from the Europeans

            The Mamluks who by the way dont exist anymore had it until the Ottoman Turks took it

            The British took it from the Turks and had Soverinty over it until the League of Nations established Israel.

            So if you want to be specific there was never a sovereign Palestinian nation, and if the argument is based on some random usurper then the land that is currently Israel should belong to Turkey.
            • by BeeBeard ( 999187 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @06:30PM (#16371311)
              Oh come now, arguing that it was "just a territory" is to argue semantics in lieu of the point.

              These people organized themselves into a loose governmental structure long before the British got involved. They had names for their towns, for their roads. They thrived--please don't try to morally justify expelling them based on their lack of flag.

              You can point to how the area has been passed around like a hooker at the Republican National Convention, but that doesn't extinguish the right the Palestinians had to the land, and more importantly to their culture and way of life--both of which have been dramatically changed now that the last three generations of Palestinians have grown up in refugee camps in Israel, Lebanon, and other places. In the camps, they are afforded no political rights (can't become citizens, can't own land, etc.) and very few human rights. It's an untenable situation, and one that the U.N., the U.S., and Israel must answer for.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Anonymous Coward

                but that doesn't extinguish the right the Palestinians had to the land, and more importantly to their culture and way of life--both of which have been dramatically changed now that the last three generations of Palestinians have grown up in refugee camps in Israel, Lebanon, and other places.

                That's an unfortunate situation, I do agree. What happened to cause all this?

                Oh yeah.. The attacking Arab nations asked the Arab residents to get out of the way so they could sweep in, destroy the "Zionist upris

                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by BeeBeard ( 999187 )
                  Good points, AC. That is the other side of the story, of course. It was optimistically thought that neighboring Muslim nations would open their borders to the Palestinians, but many refused instead. Why? Because Palestinian dissent in the region undermines Israeli power. These people have no proper homes, few rights to speak of, and an axe to grind with Israel. So what do you want to hear? That neighboring Muslim nations deemed it more valuable to leave them close to Israel where they could cause trou
      • I cheered for Israel when they went to get their kidnapped soldiers back

        I hope you realize that Hezbollah operatives kidnapped those men hoping to trade them for several Lebanese citizens who had been kidnapped before them. That side of the story is ostensibly missing from most of the U.S. news coverage on the events that led up to Israel's attack against Lebanon. It was if the entire narrative of violence, attack, and counterattack in the Middle East had somehow started with the kidnapping of the Israeli

    • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @05:30PM (#16370407)
      'Our games are not propaganda,' Kasmiya says. 'Our games are a reflection of our history -- past or present.

      this coming from the guys whose history includes the "fact" that the Holocaust did not happen.

      Please provide a citation supporting your claim that Kasmiya or a representative of his company, Afkar Media, have denied that Holocaust occured.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This coming from the guys whose history includes the "fact" that the Holocaust did not happen.

      I'm sure you could find a Palestinian somewhere that believed the Holocaust didn't happen. The usual points of contention, though, are whether the Holocaust justified the creation of an ethnic homeland for Jewish people and whether that homeland should have been created where the Palestinians happened to be living.

      With respect to the question of whether the Holocaust justified the creation of a Jewish homeland, a

    • Are you confusing Palestine with Iran?
  • by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @04:30PM (#16369409) Journal
    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.

    Someone needs to explain to these people (and Fox News, while you're at it) that trying to cancel out a raving lunatic by adding a raving lunatic from the "other side" does not "balance out", you just have two raving lunatics.
  • West vs Islam? (Score:4, Informative)

    by also-rr ( 980579 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @04:31PM (#16369431) Homepage
    Just in case the article writer (and the media) hadn't noticed, there are plenty of Muslims in the west too. Come to that most of the East is full of Chinese people, who on the whole are about as Muslim as a a beer flavour sausage wrapped in bacon.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by Dorceon ( 928997 )
      Is it a Halal beef sausage wrapped in Turkey Bacon? Remember that cooking evaporates all the alcohol.
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )
      Just in case the article writer (and the media) hadn't noticed, there are plenty of Muslims in the west too.

      <goodwin>And there were plenty jews in Hitler's Germany, your point?</goodwin> Just because they're marginally present in the same territory doesn't mean the culture clash isn't real, most of the muslims in Europe are "cultural immigrants", if that expression makes any sense.

      Come to that most of the East is full of Chinese people, who on the whole are about as Muslim as a a beer flavour sa
  • by krell ( 896769 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @04:40PM (#16369565) Journal
    "'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.'"

    Here is one example of how they do this: "Armed with a rifle, a shotgun or a grenade launcher, players navigate various missions that include "Jihad Growing Up," "Americans' Hell" and "Bush Hunted Like a Rat." In the final stage, you fight Bush.". So tell me, does this defy stereotypes at all? How is it a "good light" to make games in which Muslims are presented as violent commandos... the only difference being that they are the "first person" in the shooter and not the armed enemies for once? Or the other game in which "The goal is to kill"?

    The game creators seem to think that it is a positive portrayal of Muslims to change them from being terrorists who are shot at to terrorists who are shooting.
    • How is it a "good light" to make games in which Muslims are presented as violent commandos... the only difference being that they are the "first person" in the shooter and not the armed enemies for once?

      I think you missed the (unintentional) irony. The fact that doesn't seem to have been mentioned is that Night of Bush's Capturing is not an original game. It's a mod for an US game, 'Quest for Saddam', where players playing US marines (with oddly Bush-like skins) mow down muslim soldiers and bin-laden lookal
    • To be fair, the German Guards in Wolfenstein have gotten a bad rap.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by rk ( 6314 ) *

      "In the final stage, you fight Bush."

      I think I played this one and it's really sort of anti-climactic. You fight your way through vast hordes of defenders to get to the final stage only to find that instead of fighting Bush you're facing an empty F-102 sitting on a tarmac in Texas.

      *rimshot*

  • Bull crap (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) *
    "Our games are not propaganda"

    Right up there with the other great lies.

    "I am not a crook!"

    "I did not have sex with that woman."

    "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

    If ya have to say "Our games are not propaganda" odds are it IS propaganda. From the description it certainly sounds like a recruiting tool for the terrorists.

    Yes, ye unwashed hordes of pro PLO slashdot kids, the terrorists. Islamic terrorists. Doesn't make s damned bit of difference if they are 'Palestinian' Islamic terrorists from
    • Seems some censorship is more permissable than others

      Captain obvious to the rescue...
    • Re:Bull crap (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cliffski ( 65094 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @05:10PM (#16370057) Homepage
      I'm from the UK, I remember the IRA bombings, and I'm sure glad it stopped. As I recall, that conflict came to an end through negotiation and diplomacy. I dont recall seeing British helicopter gunships levelling Belfast. If you think that the current 'war on terror' will bring about peace in the way the IRA conflict ended, I'd respectfully suggest that's unlikely.
      I agree with you, the terrorists should be hunted down and wiped out, but it needs to be a precise and targeted attack. Every bit of 'collateral damage' just ramps up support for the terrorists.
    • by timotten ( 5411 )
      "[U]nwashed hordes of pro PLO slashdot kids"? "[H]unted down and exterminated, period full stop"? This post smacks of propaganda, doesn't it?

      Incidentally, if you believe everything in your post, then the odds are that you shouldn't answer that question.
    • by Rix ( 54095 )
      Yes, ye unwashed hordes of pro PLO slashdot kids, the terrorists. Islamic terrorists. Doesn't make s damned bit of difference if they are 'Palestinian' Islamic terrorists from either Fatah or Hamas, Lebanese Hezbolah Islamic terrorists, straight up Iranian Islamic terrorists, AlQaeda Islamic terrorists, etc. Those who use terror against civilian populations must be hunted down and exterminated, period full stop. And since the end of IRA[1] terrorism, just about all terrorism these days is Islamic terrorism.
  • by Dannon ( 142147 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @05:44PM (#16370633) Journal
    No can do, I'm getting married soon.

    Really, is it just me, or does this sound like a Leisure Suit Larry title?
  • by arodland ( 127775 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @05:51PM (#16370753)
    Funny, I thought those two things had huge amounts of overlap.
  • You mean this isn't based on the best movie to ever be put out by the worst Hollywood martial arts "actor" ever seen?

    (The best of a well-fought (early on), well-actioned (early on again), horribly-acted (all of them) bunch...)
  • by Myria ( 562655 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @01:21AM (#16374521)
    It seems rather biased to me to say that we can have America's Army and (the original) Counter-Strike but they can't make their own games that put them in a good light instead of us. If you don't like what they're "saying" in the game, don't play it.

    Besides, I'd rather them kill American soldiers and presidents in a video game than in real life.

    Melissa
  • by patio11 ( 857072 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @03:17AM (#16375091)
    ... when the main social ill of Palestinian youth is their predilection for virtual violence.
  • Hypocracy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kaffiene ( 38781 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @06:59AM (#16375987)
    Hollywood, the US games industry and unfortunately, even your head of state, have been using the "raghead==evil" formula for years now and suddenly when the positions are reversed, you feel agrieved? Give me a break. You do EXACTLY the same things. Utter hypocracy.

ASHes to ASHes, DOS to DOS.

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