Sunday, June 14, 2009

We were shocked to learn about Rendition Guantanamo, a game developed for Microsoft’s Xbox 360. The goal is for the gamer, who plays a Gitmo detainee, to shoot his way out of the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or else be subjected to torture and gruesome scientific experiments. Apparently, some techies think terrorism is child’s play.

Our astonishment peaked when we learned that the game was developed with Moazzam Begg, a former detainee and al Qaeda-trained jihadist. Since his 2005 release, Mr. Begg has become a press darling for telling spurious tales about his time at Guantanamo to the delight of anti-Americans everywhere.

T-Enterprise, a British software developer, defended the game by claiming it does not depict actions by the United States but by mercenaries in the employ of Freedom Corp., a fictitious outfit to which Gitmo, in the game, has been sold. The video game’s detainees presumably are all innocent people caught up in events, as Mr. Begg claims to have been.

T-Enterprise director Zarrar Chishti said they “think it will sell well in the Middle East,” but the public release of the game was canceled after rigorous protests from groups such as Vets for Freedom. Nevertheless, because T-Enterprise seems to be interested in challenging the bounds of propriety, we came up with some other games it might consider putting into development:

9/11 Flight Simulator: Seize control of aircraft in flight and guide them into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon or buildings of your choice. Points scored both for overall casualties and structural damage to buildings. Fend off “Let’s roll” attacks from irate passengers for bonus points.

Suicide Cell: Recruit, train, equip and deploy your own suicide-bombing cell. Make vests, plan targets, evade security and kill busloads of innocent people. Includes realistic maps of Tel Aviv, London and Mumbai. Be careful not to accidentally blow up your safe house and take out your team.

D.C. Sniper: Take your two-man team on a scenic tour of the nation’s capital, visit historic sites and gun down the innocent and unwary. Points for number of victims, skill shots, duration of reign of terror and degree of press frenzy. Find and kill the FBI agent for double bonus points.

Seriously, it is unfortunate that a software manufacturer would think it appropriate to spread terrorist propaganda through a video game. This is not the only such case. Atomic Games has come under fire from the right and left for its project Six Days in Fallujah, which is seen as trivializing and glorifying war. The crude flash game Kaboom raised a ruckus for placing the player in the shoes of a Palestinian suicide bomber.

Terrorists themselves are getting into the act. In 2005, soldiers in Baghdad found an Xbox game apparently developed by insurgents as a training tool that instructed terrorists on spotting American units, using hand signals, spotting vehicle maneuvers and using rocket launchers to shoot down helicopters. Fantasy violence is an epidemic in the video-game industry. Glorifying terrorism zaps the problem to a new level.

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