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On Being a Gamer in Iraq 74

Posted by Zonk
from the something-to-keep-your-mind-off-things dept.
The increasingly excellent games coverage from MTV continues, with Stephen Totilo's conversation with an Iraqi gamer (Flash site, video in upper left-hand corner). Wisam, the 23 year old gamer Totilo speaks with, shares a few stories with the reporter about his life in Iraq. He gained some notoriety on the web after sitting for an interview with the 'Alive in Baghdad' blog, but at the moment he's only interested in games and having something to do. A recent graduate of his city's English department, current circumstances in the city makes it hard for him to find meaningful work. From the article: "The American-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime changed Wisam's taste in games. He and his gamer friends used to enjoy first-person shooters like Medal of Honor and Call of Duty. Then a real war started around him. 'We hate the attacking, the gunfire in games,' Wisam said. 'We started to hate it.' In fact, there's only one game with guns he can still tolerate. 'Grand Theft Auto is the exception. Because Grand Theft Auto is like us.'"
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On Being a Gamer in Iraq

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  • by metlin (258108) * on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:24PM (#17512196) Journal
    In this post-Columbine world, is it anything like finding porn and listening to music on a Commodre from Afghanistan?

    (Sorry, could not resist - the old timers would know what I'm talking about)
  • by LordEd (840443) on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:27PM (#17512246)
    The purpose of playing video games is often to escape reality. When you're surrounded by a war, a war game might not be the best game to play.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Negatyfus (602326)
      Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought the purpose of playing video games was having a good time.
      • The purpose of playing immersive games that simulate a virtual environment is escaping reality, because reality tends to suck. (especially in a warzone)
        • by Negatyfus (602326)
          This is a loser attitude. You give gamers a bad name.

          I agree that warzones suck. When a game reminds you of it, it spoils your fun.
    • I was off in Baghdad for four months with the Air force.

      On our off time, Call of Duty 2 was the most popular game played over the squadron LAN.

      We were, of course, a bunch of geeks who never left the Green zone. Good thing too, we'd have gotten slaughtered if we fought anything like how we played.
  • by Lord_Slepnir (585350) on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:31PM (#17512296) Journal
    I'd hate to see the Counter Strike matches

    "Alright, we can't have everyone pick Terrorist again this time. At least some of you will have to go CT"

    *ducks*

    • How does this guy get to play his games for more than a few hours with the electrical grids popping up and down like fleas in a trailer?

      • by Unlucke (1026008)
        Has anyone ever played this? I'd be curious to see what weapons are available for the player to use. And if they have anything like QuakeCon?
    • by Erik Fish (106896)

      "Alright, we can't have everyone pick Terrorist again this time. At least some of you will have to go CT"

      From page two of cs in the gulf states [csnation.net]:

      All the players prefer to play terrorist rather than counter-terrorist--extrapolate what conclusions you will from this. At the map change, the cafe fills with the bleep-bleep-bleep of forty Emiratis rapidly pressing the "1" button for Terrorist, and they'll keep at it for a round or two, finally giving in to the inevitability that some will have to play CT.

      I

  • by dlockamy (597001) on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:31PM (#17512312)
    How long before Jack Thompson claims that GTA is responsible for the insurgency int Iraq?

    Sadly I'm not sure if this is a joke or a serious question.
  • Playing Counter-Strike must be interesting if you got terrorists running out the back door and Marines crashing through the front door in real life as you're trying to sniper someone in the game. That's almost as bad as shooting the turd in the toilet.
  • by madhatter256 (443326) on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:35PM (#17512362)
    This reminds of a show I saw on Discovery HD Saturday. Part of the show they talked about how US games are viewed in the middle east. It mainly talked about FPS games and how a lot of them show arabs as the weak enemy and that there is one company in Syria (funded by the gov't) that developed a game where Israeli soilders are seen as the enemy and the game is based on actual events in history.

    This article here, along with the show I saw, goes to show that there is a big cultural imbalance in games. A lot of the kids who play FPS will gain a basic understanding (especially if they do poorly in their class-work) that all arabs are terrorists and are thus our enemy. This is, of course, not true. This current protrayal of other cultures will harm us, America, now and in the future if America wants peace over in the Middle East and in the world around us.

    So as long as this current trend continues, expect to see future games depicting Arabs overthrowing our government, a game depicting WW2 where the Nazis win and the Holocaust never occured, and so on and so forth.
    • So as long as this current trend continues, expect to see future games depicting Arabs overthrowing our government, a game depicting WW2 where the Nazis win and the Holocaust never occured, and so on and so forth.

      Big deal, it's just games. There are plenty good ol' American games where you fight government forces. Hell, even Half-Life has you killing "the good guys who are just following orders."
    • by silentounce (1004459) on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:12PM (#17512942) Homepage
      "A lot of the kids who play FPS will gain a basic understanding (especially if they do poorly in their class-work) that all arabs are terrorists and are thus our enemy."

      These are, of course, the same students that will gain a basic understanding that if you eat a mushroom you will grow to twice your size.
    • So as long as this current trend continues, expect to see future games depicting Arabs overthrowing our government, a game depicting WW2 where the Nazis win and the Holocaust never occured, and so on and so forth.

      These possibilities have been explored in both fiction and movies; why shouldn't they be explored in games as well? Besides, it's not like current US fiction or games are historically accurate.
    • Yeah, and some video games portray Germans as evil villains, but we still love Germans and their beer.

      You can't help but expect video games to imitate reality. The reality is that people that the US conflicts with the most often are from the Middle East. The majority of our terror threats come from Arabs. If we were fighting over Taiwan with China I am sure that piles of games where you beat on Chinese would be out the next day.

      Games want to imitate reality. They want to give us the chance to play as ou
      • by jonwil (467024)
        Do the arab countries pissed off at the way arabs are treated ban those games?
        The germans (a supposedly democratic society) ban or heavily restrict games where germans are being killed. (such as all the Wolfenstien games)
        • by j35ter (895427)
          Cut the bullshit, Germans ban selling violent games (blood, gore & co.) to minors.
          Get your facts straight the next time!

          P.S. I think grandparent is right, dehumanization of a group of people in the media is usually the first step toward justifying a genocide in front of ones own people -- crusades,Auschwitz,Srebrenica,....
          • by jonwil (467024)
            Try and buy Wolfenstein 3D in germany.
            Or the version of Doom II with the hidden bonus Wolfenstein 3D levels.
        • by KDR_11k (778916)
          This ban applies to games depicting Nazi symbols, not games involving Nazis (unless they're the kind made by neonazis like concentration camp tycoon). Remove the swastikas and the game can be sold freely.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by BBadhedgehog (955308)
        *> because the US is the Mecca of gaming.

        That's the first time I've ever seen anyone spell 'Japan' that way.
    • Nazis win and the Holocaust never occured
      Axis and Allies. [atari.com]
  • You went AFK because a mortar knocked out your internet. That's still a 50 DKP minus.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Lord_Slepnir (585350)
      Or even worse:

      [Raid] Jihadjoe: might be afk, got some flakey power here.

      [Raid] Hollydiver: same here, got to go run some trajectory stuff for a mortar strike :-(

      [Raid] Hollydiver: Real pain cause we can't hit the school next to it.

      [Raid] Jihadjoe: Oh, that's cool, I live just north of PS 318. dont' want to hit the wrong thing ;-)

      [Raid Leader] Bob: Ok, here's the loot: [Sword of 1000 Truths]. Holly and Ji, youre tied in DKP

      [System] Jihad Joe has disconnected (timeout)

      [Raid] Hollydiver: Strange

  • GTA (Score:4, Funny)

    by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:48PM (#17512594) Homepage Journal
    Grand Theft Auto is the exception. Because Grand Theft Auto is like us
    Note to self: if you ever end up in Iraq, try the coffee.
    • by Divebus (860563)
      Does Wisam know that America isn't like GTA?... except in Compton?... and parts of Newark?... oh, and East St. Louis?
  • WoW in Iraq (Score:4, Interesting)

    by felonious (636719) on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:51PM (#17512642) Journal
    I recently sold my WoW account to one of our servicemen in Iraq. I'm not sure if it's playable over there, but it'd be funny if our side and the bad guys were playing together, running instances, PvP. I have this funny vision of the insurgents really getting into the Alliance chars. I see them running around the real battlefield in Night Elf costumes, doing the human Saturday Night Fever dance, or better yet, the Tunak dance, since that has to do with that part of the world.
    • Re:WoW in Iraq (Score:5, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:01PM (#17512796) Homepage Journal
      our side and the bad guys

      Just one quick question. Which ones are the bad guys again?

      • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:51PM (#17513618)
        Which ones are the bad guys again?

        And, if anyone knows the answer to this question, can you please CC:president@whitehouse.gov?

        -Eric

      • by k_187 (61692)
        The one's that we're not. Where we is the person asking the question.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Grym (725290) *

        Just one quick question. Which ones are the bad guys again?

        Clearly, the Alliance... everybody knows that.

        For the horde!

      • Just one quick question. Which ones are the bad guys again?

        How about the guys that are chopping the heads off of prisoners, torturing prisoners with electric drills before killing them, driving car bombs into markets to kill people trying to buy food for supper, trying to disrupt the genocide trials of Saddam's henchmen for the murder of hundreds of thousands of people whose bodies are found in mass graves all through Iraq, and fighting to prevent Iraq's democratically elected government from restoring orde
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          How about the guys that are chopping the heads off of prisoners

          We have a death penalty here, too.

          torturing prisoners with electric drills before killing them

          Does it really matter with what they are tortured? There are plenty of cases in which it has been shown that US troops have tortured people; both during this conflict, and previously.

          driving car bombs into markets to kill people trying to buy food for supper

          Yes, when we want to kill people trying to buy food for supper, we drop the bombs

      • by @madeus (24818)

        Just one quick question. Which ones are the bad guys again?

        Notwithstanding the affront that is Guantanamo Bay and the small number of American and British troops who have behaved appallingly in Iraq:

        That would primarily be the religious extremists - mostly Iranian backed minority Shia's in the case of Iraq, though obviously Sunni's are retaliating and fighting for power too. The sort of people that are content to kill other people because they belong to a different branch of the same religion, or who they deem are not pious enough or simply because they want their

        • by Malakusen (961638)
          Apparently one man's affront is another man's atrocity.
          • by @madeus (24818)
            I believe the practice of re-classing POW's as 'Enemy Combatants' and declaring they are no longer subject to the Geneva Convention or US law while held at Guantanamo Bay (and other US government run facilities overseas) is an affront to justice and to civil society.

            I presently hesitate to call it an atrocity on the grounds of insufficient evidence (evidence, the presumption of innocence, remember those?). The prima facie case being unproven allegations by a small number of released detainees, who had gone
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by joystickgenie (913297)
      Daler Mehndi (the artist that performed "Tunak Tunak Tun") is from India. So I would say that has little to do with Iraq and the surrounding nations. That is unless your definition of "that part of the world" extends beyond the reach of the Middle East, 3 countries over from Iraq (roughly the distance from Mexico to Canada), into south Asia.
  • since Bush seems to treat war like it was a video game, and all the soldiers and hardware and money as his toys.
  • OK, they stopped playing certain games because the games were becoming too close to what they were experiencing in real life, but they can play GTA because... it somehow reminds them of themselves in real life?

    Let's leave aside for the moment exactly in what ways GTA is 'like them.'

    • by Mursk (928595)
      OK, I RTFA, and I understand what he meant by the last, but I'm still baffled as to why this game would still have appeal while the others don't.
    • by WormholeFiend (674934) on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:18PM (#17513048)
      but they can play GTA because... it somehow reminds them of themselves in real life?

      They probably have tons of opportunities to rise within the ranks their local mafia, not to mention earn extra cash in the side missions...

      The variety of vehicles must be lacking though, with most of them being military vehicles and tanks.
      • by n3tcat (664243)
        You honestly think that's the most prevalent mode of transportation in Iraq? Sure for us, the American Soldiers, but for the Iraqis, cars are still the number one choice. Use some common sense.

        Oh, and for the bad guys, trucks and vans are pretty helpful. Trucks can have mounted 50cals or mortar launchers, and vans can carry teams or sets of IED's.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:20PM (#17513076)
    He and his gamer friends used to enjoy first-person shooters like Medal of Honor and Call of Duty. Then a real war started around him.

    And ofcourse according to the Bush administration those people didn't have any freedom and couldn't enjoy the things we had here. Amazing how much of the official stories turn into pure falsified information whenever you're coming into contact with information residing from someone who actually lives in the region itself...
    • Good point. Also, I'm sure that anyone who with those games (MOH, COD, CounterStrike) will either be suspected by the US of using them as a training simulation or will be kidnapped and shot by a militia because they were playing "un-Islamic" games.
    • Yeah, a lot of the firsthand accounts from Iraqis are a little different than what you usually hear. If you were to believe certain people, Iraq was like a 24/7 concentration camp in Nazi Germany before ze Americans arrived.
    • And ofcourse according to the Bush administration those people didn't have any freedom and couldn't enjoy the things we had here. Amazing how much of the official stories turn into pure falsified information whenever you're coming into contact with information residing from someone who actually lives in the region itself...

      Well said. As many on Slashdot know, there are few things more important [state.gov], or a greater demonstration of freedom [defenselink.mil], than playing games [cnn.com] like Medal of Honor and Call of Duty, unless it is pla [go.com]
  • by Darth (29071) on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:26PM (#17513174) Homepage
    In fact, there's only one game with guns he can still tolerate. 'Grand Theft Auto is the exception. Because Grand Theft Auto is like us.'"

    In related news, Jack Thompson has filed suit against Rockstar Games and the ESRB for destabilizing the middle east and causing the insurgency in Iraq.

  • That must suck to walk out the front door and be inside an actual FPS game. No wonder he doesn't want to do that in his spare time. I was waiting for the GTA reference about car bombs...
    • by Durrok (912509)
      Yeah, but there is probably a lot less people screaming "BOOM HEAD SHOT", humping people after a kill, or dead people proclaiming "omg h4x".
  • No health packs, respawing or buy zones. Yeah, I can see why that would turn me off the alternative.
  • It is great to read an article about people in Iraq and not just about Americans in Iraq. I thought this was going to be a run of the mill article about some American 18 year old gung-ho rifle-and-pistol lunatic bringing his Xbox to Iraq to play Halo 2 in multiplayer every day.
  • Some interesting twists on gaming in the military in Iraq...

    Psychologists who treat combat stress recommend video games for Marines to unwind and boost morale. "I always talk to people about all kinds of positive, pleasant events that they can use," said Lt. Erin Simmons, a psychologist with Bravo Surgical Company. "I've heard some people say they like to play the video games with the aggressive military content. I've also heard people say they don't want to play those types of games, they don't need t

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