Are video games just propaganda and training tools for the military?

30/03/2012

The Guardian


It’s a shadowy and lucrative relationship. But just how close are video-game developers with various military outfits? And how does it affect the games we play?

It’s a shadowy and lucrative relationship. But just how close are video-game developers with various military outfits? And how does it affect the games we play?

It’s Monday night, the kids are in bed, and I am trying to kill Osama bin Laden. I stalk through his Abbottabad compound and I aim my rifle at the first person I see, only to discover he’s my brother in arms, aka “OverdoseRocks”. So I walk downstairs into a prayer room, at which point my gun accidentally goes off. Then the mission is over. We were victorious.

Next, I join US servicemen during the 2007 surge in Iraq. For about three minutes I kick about a palm-lined boulevard, strafing apartment buildings. I am ambushed. In my dying moments, I am presented with an advert for a game in which I can embody a cheetah and kill an antelope, but I have had enough bloodshed for one evening.

I have been on the Kuma Games site, an online entertainment developer and, according to reports on Iranian television, an international distributor of military propaganda. Kuma produces a range of games, from second world war air-battle shoot-’em-ups for the History Channel, through to the carnivore-themed I Predator, a tie-in for the cable station Animal Planet. Yet it’s the company’s Kuma\War series of topical military games, as well as a more discreet line of Arabic-language first-person shooter games, that have piqued media attention. During a televised confession on Iranian TV, alleged US agent and former marine Amir Mirzai Hekmati said he had worked for Kuma, and it was a CIA front company.

Though his words cannot be regarded as the unvarnished truth, publicly available government documents indicate that Hekmati had been a Kuma employee, while Kuma’s CEO, Keith Halper, admits to taking on military work. If his words are true, Kuma\War are only one of a number of bloody titles produced under varying degrees of military aegis.


Also see:

War crimes in video games should be punished, ICRC says

The International Committee of the Red Cross have called for video games to punish crimes committed in battle by adhering to real-life international war conventions.