The Syrian Civil War: Turned Into a Game

by Rachel Baker on October 27, 2014

In this article, the main question being posed is ‘can gaming raise awareness about the world’s worst humanitarian crisis?’

Frankly, I think the answer is yes – as well as environmental crisis’ if a game’s developers are cognizant. As an example, in the game Red Dead Redemption, you can actually make the buffalo on the great plains extinct. And the feeling you get when you realize you’ve done this is a bit like accidently hitting a dog with your car. It sucks, but one can completely understand how it actually happened.

Ethical questions in a game’s storyline has long been a feature of gaming, but as the article below shows, sometimes because of a particular crisis, we don’t really know enough of what’s going on (because there are no journalists on the ground) to have a cogent story of the area in conflict. Combining journalism and gaming may be an incredibly successful way of helping people understand what is going on in other parts of the world where the lifestyles, religions and terrains are very different than our own.

Read more: The Syrian Civil War: Turned Into a Game

Swenson also wanted to prove the value of new-media resources in reporting on the conflict. Coverage of the Syrian civil war has become notoriously problematic due to the lack of reporters on the ground and the mortal danger faced by journalists in the region. Swenson believes, however, that there are opportunities to embrace new, safer methods for reporting stories. Given the wealth of open-source intelligence that is coming out of Syria and in need of analysis, Swenson believes “reporters, for the first time, might be of better use from behind the computer than from behind the front lines.”

Swenson’s gamification of the Syrian conflict has an ethical dimension as well. Players are continuously prompted to make choices and take actions, and thereby re-calibrate their decisions based on their assumed characters. The push to inhabit the consciousness of individuals involved in the conflict leads to many difficult moral crossroads.

This article was written by: Rachel Baker – Click to Become a Patron or to follow on Twitter.

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