215: Cease Fire: A Look at Virtual Jihadi

DemonCrim

New member
Feb 17, 2009
53
0
0
I personally like to think of video games as an escape from reality I personally don't like that anyone is trying to turn my hobby into their own political statement. I mean asking developers to censor themselves more than what they have already will produce nothing but bland cookie cutter games. I mean as far as some FPS are concerned(I'm looking at you call of duty)
 

GamerPhate

New member
Aug 22, 2008
621
0
0
Try the Chern. Life Simulation Mod for ARMA 2, or even the CLR ripoff that was made, you pretty much play the role of a terrorist, a normal citizen, or a cop. Takes a bit of RP aspect to get it to work in a FPS environment.. but interesting scenarios..
 

The Random One

New member
May 29, 2008
3,310
0
0
Bravo, Mr. Balil! Many have said that art is only truly art when it annoys people. This is no proof that videogames are an art, just that true art will simply be whatever media it gets its message across more easily.

I, for one, would like to see an actual game by a big developer showing the story of a Middle Eastern fighter, trying to defend his country from a Western invasion force. Yeah, keep dreaming.

As for me, I liked CoD 4 because I like shooters, and it did a pretty good job at conveying the cacophony of war, the side you're fighting on be damned. But when I play Battlefield 2 I always play as the Iraqis.

DemonCrim said:
I personally like to think of video games as an escape from reality I personally don't like that anyone is trying to turn my hobby into their own political statement.
Well, if you like music, will you say that people writing music about political topics in order to drive a point across is wrong?
 

Kate McKiernan

New member
Aug 14, 2009
8
0
0
I can't say I disagree with the governments attempts to shut him up, but I think Mr. Balil is on to something. His idea to use video games as a way to strike a cord and send a socio-political message is brilliant. I can't say that I'd play the game, but I understand what he was trying to say.

It's kind of like the artist a few years ago who painted a portrait of a naked Jesus - who was a woman. Conservative, fundamentalist Christians cried foul! I don't think that the artist was honestly intending to cause controversy, I think he was trying to make a point. In his case, the point he was making was, "God might not be who you think he (she) could be," which is a valid point. In fact, just yesterday, I was talking to a friend about certain things pertaining to our Christian religion, and she was getting all uptight about various things, and then I pulled out a verse which literally says, "Life's meaningless, you owe it to yourself to go our and party, don't hold back enjoying all that you can!" Of course this all occurs within certain bounds, but it shook her faith to think that God would advocate for fun verses a bland, ritualistic, religious life.

It's unfortunate that people don't recognize the point this man's trying to make and are just too quick to cry foul - this was never about the game, it was about the statement.
 

kaiser_what

New member
Feb 19, 2009
138
0
0
You know this article really reminds me of something I've read on TvTropes. I think its this one: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TrueArtIsOffensive
 

DemonCrim

New member
Feb 17, 2009
53
0
0
I'm not saying they are wrong I mean if they want they can go ahead but what I'm saying is I can careless about their political views it normally doesn't usually make for a good listen.I'm saying that some of us that use video games as an escape would be turn off by those types of games and not buy them. And if people aren't buying them then its not an effective medium. I just don't think video games is the correct medium to be doing those sorts of things.
 

The Rogue Wolf

Stealthy Carnivore
Legacy
Apr 3, 2020
11,621
1,089
118
Stalking the Digital Tundra
Gender
✅
I honestly can't say I'm surprised in the least. This is an unfortunately typical mindset in many Americans today- "They're not people, they're terrorists!" Demonize the enemy, make them subhuman, believe that they are a relentless and implacable foe bent on your extermination, and then it's okay to hate them and destroy them. But turning this around, asking us to view ourselves from the eyes of those we are fighting... that is absolutely, unequivocly verboten, and the merest suggestion that anyone who takes up arms against us is anything but a freedom-hating, crazed madman who would be "killing us over here" if we weren't "killing them over there"- well, you might as well set the Stars and Stripes on fire and defecate on the Constitution while you're at it, you'll get the same reaction.

This is the kind of truth that we Americans MUST be forced to see. There are too many people who absolutely will not believe that we could do any wrong, that America is The Good Guys and anyone who has a problem with anything we do is a "terr'ist". Understanding that there are human beings living in that strangely-shaped spot on the map with all the funny names will go a long way towards making people question what we, and our government, do on the world stage. Terrorism is a nasty thing, and the ends do not justify their means- but it is not at all unpatriotic to question if they justify ours, either.
 

Khada

Night Angel
Jan 8, 2009
331
0
0
nice piece. All games have my full support. Provided of course they have an appropriate rating and are only available in appropriate places (wouldnt want EB selling one of those jap rape games lol)
 

hyperspite

New member
Aug 19, 2009
2
0
0
This was clearly an issue of protected free speech. Yes, the video game exhorts the player to kill a facsimile of the American president, but the key here is: context matters. Mr. Balil was attempting to effect a flip in perspective irrespective of ideology - an extremely valuable thing in all areas of life. He was not trying to convince a player to kill someone, let alone the president, in real life. This is quite clear from the context. In fact, the whole point as far as I can tell was to convince the participant to *not* kill anyone!

I think that these art exhibits are exceptionally useful because they are necessarily anti-popular view. They force a rational observer to reality check. Any time you consider a problem, it's a really good idea to flip it around and look for a solution from the other end; solving a maze from the goal point to the start point can often be easier than they way it was designed to be solved. Perhaps with understanding, we can find a peaceful solution (or if not, perhaps a better way to fight).

On a more video game related note, I think that a full version would be fantastic to play. I would love to be able to play both sides of a conflict, seeing what internal blunders they make, how they really view strategic goals, and fighting under vastly different conditions. That is true art. Unfortunately, the gaming industry seems to only be able to support brain dead us vs them stories. The former idea probably wouldn't sell for nearly the same reason Mr. Balil couldn't even display his work. Also, thinking detracts from the experience for adrenaline jockeys. Constant brain dead action just makes me feel tired :p I want to feel that I'm learning something from the game.
 

akmarksman

New member
Mar 28, 2008
593
0
0
People stereotype groups of people because those people have done things that move them out of someone's comfort zone.

More than say..3 white teenage kids dressed in sk8er gear? common assumption is they are punks. the usual "eff the man" and all that.

More than 2 black guys dressed in street clothes..maybe wearing a do-rag..gang members..possibly armed. That's what a lot of people think..

More than one "arab looking" guy standing around and no one is standing near or by him because they assume he is a terrorist.

I can tell you the #1 thing that will cause more trouble..the religion associated with some groups of people.

Sure not all Christians are Southern Baptists saying "if you dunt give your money to tha church yer goin' straigh ta hell"..
What's nice about the "Christian" religion..there are fundamentalists but they are not espousing suicide bombing as a way to get to Heaven.
Not every single Muslim wants to blow themselves up,but from what we've seen on the news..that's all they show.
Kinda like UFC..what they show on TV gets ratings..UFC tv..20 minutes of sweaty dick punching. They don't show stuff like the roundhouse kicks and that one guy who got kicked and his leg was broke.

I'm sure there are plenty of Muslims out there who are saying to themselves "I just wish they would quit doing that and making us look bad" but their voices aren't heard as loud as the guy who blows up a building so he can get 72 virgins.(you know..they never have told you whether or not those virgins were male or female..)

I don't like the idea of the game,but I'll support it as a medium because once a game like that gets banned from ever being sold,more interest is shown in it..you know because it's bad and people are looking for the next bad game.
I would support the sale of the game provided it's treated like any decongestants at the pharmacy counter. You have to have proof of State Issued ID and sign a book. NOT SO THE GOVERNMENT can track you,so the store selling the game isn't presented with a lawsuit and a cease and desist order on selling video games.
 

m_jim

New member
Jan 14, 2008
497
0
0
Chipperz said:
jh322 said:
I think you've hit the nail on the head. All the way through Call of Duty 4, my mates became increasingly fond of the phrase "fuckin' towel heads" and "stupid terrorists" and, to my shame, I thought nothing of it. This terrifies me more than I'd like to claim...

It's worth pointing out not only that all Bilal did was add a storyline to an Al Qaeda game, but also that said Al Qaeda game was made by switching the skins on the American and Iraqi soldiers in an American game.

So, to recap...

Made by a Western Developer, about stereotypical US marines killing stereotypical Iraqi "terrorists" = fine.
Made by a Western Developer, changed by Middle Eastern group, about stereotypical Iraqi "terrorists" killing stereotypical US marines = wrong.
Made by a Western Developer, changed by Middle Eastern group, rewritten by a Middle Eastern artist, about developed Iraqi "terrorists" killing stereotypical US marines = offensive.
That argument completely divorces the situation from any context, though. The goal of American Marines is to kill people who are trying to destabilize the region without harming the civilian population. The goal of the Iraqi/Al Qaeda terrorists is to use violence and intimidation against the civilian population to instigate conflict and incite resentment against American troops. Look at the news about the suicide bombings that go on in Iraq, routinely killing 50 or more civilians. Setting aside the misguided American intentions in Iraq, can you really argue that suicide bombers and the like are not "the bad guys" (or at least the greater evil) in this conflict?

EDIT: I do support the designer's right to free speech. If that "freedom" doesn't protect offensive speech, then it isn't really freedom.
 

Kate McKiernan

New member
Aug 14, 2009
8
0
0
jh322 said:
-oh hey, you post just went *poof*, would'ja look at that-
Yea, you are partly right, but think of it this way also, the game he was using was developed so that you were an american mowing down Iraqi's to get to Saddam, then Al-Queda modded it to give it a George Bush skin instead, Im thinking he was making a game more personal, hell I would be kinda pissed if I had a family member become collateral damage from a U.S. airstrike. What gets me is how America tried to silence the game in the land where you are free to say anything until you offend someone, but lets jump back to the idea itself.

I believe that this and many other games are forms of art, except for Halo, bread and butter shooter if you ask me, and as such they are open to interpretation. You might just see a game about a terrorist trying to blow up former President George W. Bush, but what I think he was trying to aim at was who exactly the person is trying to do it. sure you can put someone in a mask and give them a gun, but the story is probably better than one from any big name developer could make. I love how no one even hit the question why he would make such a game, possibly trying to turn a blind eye to what happened, So I applaud Bilal for his artwork.

m_jim said:
That argument completely divorces the situation from any context, though. The goal of American Marines is to kill people who are trying to destabilize the region without harming the civilian population. The goal of the Iraqi/Al Qaeda terrorists is to use violence and intimidation against the civilian population to instigate conflict and incite resentment against American troops. Look at the news about the suicide bombings that go on in Iraq, routinely killing 50 or more civilians. Setting aside the misguided American intentions in Iraq, can you really argue that suicide bombers and the like are not "the bad guys" (or at least the greater evil) in this conflict?

but your not looking at it from the other perspective, Al-Qeada seeks to ensure a strict Islamic law wherever it is at, and the Jihad is indeed a Muslim religious war with several lessons from it being the notorious martyrdom virgins. To them any Iraqi or Afghan that works with American troops has betrayed them and the Islamic teachings, to them, We are the evil invading force while their insurgents are protecting their country, religion, family and homes. What both are failing to realize is how war effects the individual, which is what this game is about, Bilal isn't doing it for his religion, his country, but out of vengeance for the death of his brother, a pure intention skewed into an anti-American perspective sadly.





also, anyone know where I could get the game? his website talks about it but I don't see anything about downloading it, I don't really want to use Google to search for "game where you blow up George W. Bush" either.
 

m_jim

New member
Jan 14, 2008
497
0
0
Kalezian said:
m_jim said:
That argument completely divorces the situation from any context, though. The goal of American Marines is to kill people who are trying to destabilize the region without harming the civilian population. The goal of the Iraqi/Al Qaeda terrorists is to use violence and intimidation against the civilian population to instigate conflict and incite resentment against American troops. Look at the news about the suicide bombings that go on in Iraq, routinely killing 50 or more civilians. Setting aside the misguided American intentions in Iraq, can you really argue that suicide bombers and the like are not "the bad guys" (or at least the greater evil) in this conflict?

but your not looking at it from the other perspective, Al-Qeada seeks to ensure a strict Islamic law wherever it is at, and the Jihad is indeed a Muslim religious war with several lessons from it being the notorious martyrdom virgins. To them any Iraqi or Afghan that works with American troops has betrayed them and the Islamic teachings, to them, We are the evil invading force while their insurgents are protecting their country, religion, family and homes. What both are failing to realize is how war effects the individual, which is what this game is about, Bilal isn't doing it for his religion, his country, but out of vengeance for the death of his brother, a pure intention skewed into an anti-American perspective sadly.
I'm not talking about the American perspective. If you are going to fault me for not looking at it from Al-Qaeda's perspective, I am going to fault you for not looking at it from the point of view of the Iraqi civilian population. These are everyday people who are being murdered in droves by jihadists. Do they not have a right to life, regardless of what some holy warrior believes?

Getting back to the game, Bilal is doing his people no favor. American soldiers don't want to kill civilians. They try not to do it. It is very sad that his brother was killed, but putting forth a piece of art that seems to glorify slaughtering American soldiers, who are fighting and dying to protect Iraqi civilians, sends a bad message. It reinforces the stereotype of Middle Easterners as blood-thirsty savages.

EDIT: I hope that I did not come off as too combative. We are having a nice, civil discussion so I hope that there are no hard feelings.
 

Kate McKiernan

New member
Aug 14, 2009
8
0
0
I suppose the real question here is: what constitutes appropriate use of the videogame medium?

A horror game is far more horrific if it demands the player commit actions that would otherwise be horrifyingly difficult due to moral concerns. In much the same way a war game can make a greater anti-war statement through the use of player controlled actions that are thoroughly unscrupulous.

Of course the old horse of "videogames are games; games are for children" will always be beaten until it can be effectively removed. This behaviour ties into our desire to make others feel the same as we do; make people follow our scruples because we are "right", and anything else is demonstrably "wrong".

Open dialogue between those who hold opposing viewpoints is primarily redundant due to the very nature of opinions. Any advances towards quieting one side invariably stem from arbitrary powers above either group.

In the case of Virtual Jihadi, the arbitrary powers were aligned with the opponents of anything seemingly anti-American and thus it was shut down, albeit temporarily. All this perversion of free speech served to do was disillusion the proponents of freedom of expression.

Whether Virtual Jihadi or America's Army were manufactured by propagandists for the sole purpose of inspiring hatred is irrelevant; the impact of propaganda is restricted by who is exposed to it, and how seriously they take it. People who play America's Army are already apple-pie sustained, flag-saluting true Americans and thus the potential of the game as a tool of influence is crippled; it simply reaffirms national pride in the hearts of patriots. A similar situation exists with Virtual Jihadi in that those who play it are somewhat more sceptical of their government than their gun toting cousins whose faith in the [a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sixth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution"]6[sup]th[/sup] amendment[/a] is insurmountable.

The fact of the matter is that consumers have the power to play what games they like, and ignore those they don't. But, as I said earlier, people will always want to filter every medium of art, entertainment and news to suit their own ideals and constrict access to anything that contradicts their notion of "proper behaviour".
 

Chipperz

New member
Apr 27, 2009
2,594
0
0
m_jim said:
Chipperz said:
jh322 said:
I think you've hit the nail on the head. All the way through Call of Duty 4, my mates became increasingly fond of the phrase "fuckin' towel heads" and "stupid terrorists" and, to my shame, I thought nothing of it. This terrifies me more than I'd like to claim...

It's worth pointing out not only that all Bilal did was add a storyline to an Al Qaeda game, but also that said Al Qaeda game was made by switching the skins on the American and Iraqi soldiers in an American game.

So, to recap...

Made by a Western Developer, about stereotypical US marines killing stereotypical Iraqi "terrorists" = fine.
Made by a Western Developer, changed by Middle Eastern group, about stereotypical Iraqi "terrorists" killing stereotypical US marines = wrong.
Made by a Western Developer, changed by Middle Eastern group, rewritten by a Middle Eastern artist, about developed Iraqi "terrorists" killing stereotypical US marines = offensive.
That argument completely divorces the situation from any context, though. The goal of American Marines is to kill people who are trying to destabilize the region without harming the civilian population. The goal of the Iraqi/Al Qaeda terrorists is to use violence and intimidation against the civilian population to instigate conflict and incite resentment against American troops. Look at the news about the suicide bombings that go on in Iraq, routinely killing 50 or more civilians. Setting aside the misguided American intentions in Iraq, can you really argue that suicide bombers and the like are not "the bad guys" (or at least the greater evil) in this conflict?

EDIT: I do support the designer's right to free speech. If that "freedom" doesn't protect offensive speech, then it isn't really freedom.
Once again, that's my point, take the following two game storyines;

Quest for Saddam - An American's brother is killed in Iraq in a checkpoint bombing. The young US patriot, incensed at the death of a beloved sibling, joins the army and excels himself, being given command of a small unit of troops. Over the course of his first tour in Iraq, they kill hundreds (thousands? depends on the difficulty) of Iraqi troops and eventually confronts and kills Saddam Hussein in his palace.

Hunt for Bush (the version that isn't porn) - An Iraqi's brother is killed in Iraq when a US missile hits a house. The young Iraqi patriot, incensed at the death of his beloved sibling, joins Al Qaeda and excels himself, being given command of a small unit of freedom fighters. Over the course of a few months in Iraq, they kill hundreds/thousands of US troops and eventually confronts and kills President Bush while he's visiting the troops.

The games have virtually the same storyline, probably take place in the same locations... Hell, they're exactly the same game, just with the skins switched. In the games, neither side kills civilians, which is apparently important for the second one when you can mow down hundreds of the things in games like GTA and Saint's Row.

Are you really going to tell me that the second story is offensive?
 

Wargamer

New member
Apr 2, 2008
973
0
0
I think I have become jaded by war... I am certainly spotting a certain trend in my gaming.

RED ALERT 3 - I loved playing the Soviets (who get to conquer all of Europe and then America). I liked playing as the Allies only because A) I was clearly a British officer defending my homeland against a vastly more powerful aggressor, and B) I get to kill the dumbass Yanks who'd rather get themselves and all of Europe wiped out than ask a "Commie" for help.

BATTLEFIELD 1943 - I am not happy if I'm not Japanese. Both sides have the same gear, same vehicles, same everything. Differences are purely cosmetic. I still don't like playing as the Americans.

KILLZONE 2 - The ISA are the bad guys as far as I'm concerned. You can claim the Helghast are nazis led by a Hitler wannabie, or a bunch of evil murderous terrorists, but in Killzone 2 they are DEFENDING THEIR HOMEWORLD against an aggressor who is suspiciously quick to tout the words we've all heard before... words like "Weapons of Mass Destruction". Words like "Evil Dictator [Visari]", words like "we fight for truth and justice." Christ, you might as well have Colonel Templar handing out apple pie.

The point is, Americans are ALWAYS the bad guy in my eyes. Always. Even in Battlefield, where I know full well the motives of both sides, I cannot sympathise with them. I'd rather play as the Nazis than the Americans.

The only reason I can think of is this; it is not because I am somehow 'racist' against the Americans, it's because I am so disgusted at how they behave in reality. I grew up believing our World War Veterans were heroes because they were fighting to PROTECT us. America is not 'Protecting' anything but the oil industry by invading the middle east. Political propaganda, spread through videogames, is very eager to teach us all that America is the shining light of honesty and virtue, and would never, EVER harm anyone unless they absolutely deserved it.

I'd hope everyone reading this is skeptical enough to believe, as I do, that this is a truly rediculous concept. It is only in games such as Resistance 2 - a game where around 80% of America's population is either dead, or has suffered a fate far worse than death, can I finally sympathise enough to one to play as them. I always play the Good Guys. The Good Guys aren't the aggressors, and they don't believe in pre-emptive strikes.
 

jh322

New member
May 14, 2008
338
0
0
Chipperz said:
m_jim said:
Chipperz said:
jh322 said:
I think you've hit the nail on the head. All the way through Call of Duty 4, my mates became increasingly fond of the phrase "fuckin' towel heads" and "stupid terrorists" and, to my shame, I thought nothing of it. This terrifies me more than I'd like to claim...

It's worth pointing out not only that all Bilal did was add a storyline to an Al Qaeda game, but also that said Al Qaeda game was made by switching the skins on the American and Iraqi soldiers in an American game.

So, to recap...

Made by a Western Developer, about stereotypical US marines killing stereotypical Iraqi "terrorists" = fine.
Made by a Western Developer, changed by Middle Eastern group, about stereotypical Iraqi "terrorists" killing stereotypical US marines = wrong.
Made by a Western Developer, changed by Middle Eastern group, rewritten by a Middle Eastern artist, about developed Iraqi "terrorists" killing stereotypical US marines = offensive.
That argument completely divorces the situation from any context, though. The goal of American Marines is to kill people who are trying to destabilize the region without harming the civilian population. The goal of the Iraqi/Al Qaeda terrorists is to use violence and intimidation against the civilian population to instigate conflict and incite resentment against American troops. Look at the news about the suicide bombings that go on in Iraq, routinely killing 50 or more civilians. Setting aside the misguided American intentions in Iraq, can you really argue that suicide bombers and the like are not "the bad guys" (or at least the greater evil) in this conflict?

EDIT: I do support the designer's right to free speech. If that "freedom" doesn't protect offensive speech, then it isn't really freedom.
Once again, that's my point, take the following two game storyines;

Quest for Saddam - An American's brother is killed in Iraq in a checkpoint bombing. The young US patriot, incensed at the death of a beloved sibling, joins the army and excels himself, being given command of a small unit of troops. Over the course of his first tour in Iraq, they kill hundreds (thousands? depends on the difficulty) of Iraqi troops and eventually confronts and kills Saddam Hussein in his palace.

Hunt for Bush (the version that isn't porn) - An Iraqi's brother is killed in Iraq when a US missile hits a house. The young Iraqi patriot, incensed at the death of his beloved sibling, joins Al Qaeda and excels himself, being given command of a small unit of freedom fighters. Over the course of a few months in Iraq, they kill hundreds/thousands of US troops and eventually confronts and kills President Bush while he's visiting the troops.

The games have virtually the same storyline, probably take place in the same locations... Hell, they're exactly the same game, just with the skins switched. In the games, neither side kills civilians, which is apparently important for the second one when you can mow down hundreds of the things in games like GTA and Saint's Row.

Are you really going to tell me that the second story is offensive?

I think we're barking up different trees. Neither Chipperz or myself (I believe) were saying that the troops (American, British) should not be in Afghanistan or Iraq. What we were saying is that videogames are one of the mediums that contribute to all people from those nations often being seen as involved in some sort of terrorism or another, when that simply isn't the case. These are different arguments, yes the soldiers in that region do have, in my opinion, a noble goal. But that's sort of irrelevant, here. Like I said in my original post, I think the message in this game is to ignore the messages in games. That's not a "BUSH IS BAD!" or "SOLDIERS GO HOME!" statement. Think about the target audience: this game was, I imagine, designed to be provocative, so it's obviously not going to make anybody think about blowing up the president, former or current.
 

oneniesteledain

New member
Aug 5, 2009
206
0
0
I absolutely believe in freedom of speech. There's such thing as being tasteless, but that is not a reason for censorship.

I even think games like CoD4 are tasteless...but I've also been deployed to the Middle East, and I refuse to play stuff like that. Just because I don't like a game doesn't mean it shouldn't exist, though.