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The Almighty Buck Games

How the Syrian Games Industry Crumbled Under Sanctions and Violence 141

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-games-no-peace dept.
Fluffeh writes "Syria's games industry now looks like just another collateral casualty of dictator Bashar Al-Assad's struggle to hold power. 'Life for Syrian game developers has never been better,' joked Falafel Games founder Radwan Kasmiya, 'You can test the action on the streets and get back to your desktop to script it on your keyboard.' Any momentum Syria may have been building as a regional game development hub slowed considerably in 2004, when then-US President George W. Bush levied economic sanctions against the country. Under the sanctions, Syria's game developers found themselves cut off from investment money they needed to grow, as well as from other relationships that were just as important as cash. 'Any [closure of opportunity] is devastating to a budding games company as global partnerships are completely hindered,' said Rawan Sha'ban of the Jordanian game development company Quirkat. 'Even at the simplest infrastructure level, game development engines [from the US] cannot be purchased in a sanctioned country.'"
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How the Syrian Games Industry Crumbled Under Sanctions and Violence

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  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Monday May 07, 2012 @10:20AM (#39915117)

    And you thought women programmers were rare HERE.

    But seriously, does anyone know what games were developed there? Falafel Games seems to best be known for "Knights of Glory," which I've never heard of. But anything bigger?

    • TFA mentions a few, none with any name recognition to speak of in the US market; but apparently they moved a fair number of units regionally.
    • by am 2k (217885)

      And you thought women programmers were rare HERE.

      But seriously, does anyone know what games were developed there? Falafel Games seems to best be known for "Knights of Glory," which I've never heard of. But anything bigger?

      I guess if they had any projects, they were developed for big game productions, where you aren't allowed to talk at all about it.

    • If you read the article, Under Ash [wikipedia.org] is there biggest game, which sold several hundred thousand. It's an FPS from the Palestinian point of view. You never win, it gets harder and harder no matter how good you are, eventually you die.

      They also made an RTS [quraishgame.com] that focuses on Islamic history.
      • by crazyjj (2598719) *

        Actually, Under Siege (the sequel to Under Ash) sounds like an interesting game. It's not often you get to hear the Palestinian side of the Israeli occupation in the U.S. (though you'll certainly get no shortage of blatant pro-Israeli propaganda) . Unfortunately, it's banned here.

        I'm used to it, though. There is a lot of stuff you can't buy here. Still waiting for them to release "Space Race: The Untold Story" in the U.S. It's one of the best docudramas on the space race ever produced. It was produced by th

      • by vux984 (928602)

        You never win, it gets harder and harder no matter how good you are, eventually you die

        As a fun game, meh, probably not so much.

        But as a political statement, and as a response to western military war simulations... golf clap. Well done guys!

      • You never win

        Even if you choose not to play?

    • by unixisc (2429386)
      Whatever games they developed, looks like they'd have had to have taken a Baath on it
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 07, 2012 @10:23AM (#39915147)

    Horrible oppressive dictatorships tend to stifle small businesses.

    But very clever to blame it all on George Bush.

    Damn dubya, if it wasn't for him Syria would be a fun land full of gamers and anime!!!

    *wacks off to huffpost* *smug grin*

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday May 07, 2012 @10:33AM (#39915253) Journal
      Smug satisfaction is enormously pleasurable; but there is an open line of argument about the question of the efficacy of economic sanctions, which this story serves as a case of(along with the not-really-news that serious violence usually drives off and/or kills off the local human capital)...

      Depending on the local economy, how the local government is funded, how effective or ineffective a set of economic sanctions is, and probably enough other variables that only a hardened social scientist would be comfortable drawing conclusions, there is the potential for sanctions to hurt the local despot's local enemies more than his local allies and critical supply sources. It's also possible that you end up hurting both, or that your sanctions are so porous as to be irrelevant.
      • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Monday May 07, 2012 @11:01AM (#39915485)

        Economic sanctions dont mean we roll in there and take their money; they amount to one country saying "we dont like what youre doing, so we wont trade with you freely, and will encourage others not to as well".

        If there WERENT sanctions, I imagine wed be seeing an article about how Bush was in bed with Syrian leadership and is to blame for the hardship there now.

        • by icebike (68054) *

          The litany of failed approaches is long and sordid.

          Fawning praise doesn't work
          Strongly worded State Department tough talk doesn't work.
          Sanctions don't work.
          UN tough talk doesn't work.
          UN Observers don't work.

          All of the above are excuses for doing nothing, either because those who impose them don't
          want to, can't afford to, believe the situation will take care of itself, can't agree which
          side should prevail, are held back by those insisting its none of anyone else's business, or that
          we should "give peace a cha

      • Smug satisfaction is enormously pleasurable; but there is an open line of argument about the question of the efficacy of economic sanctions, which this story serves as a case of(along with the not-really-news that serious violence usually drives off and/or kills off the local human capital)... Depending on the local economy, how the local government is funded, how effective or ineffective a set of economic sanctions is, and probably enough other variables that only a hardened social scientist would be comfortable drawing conclusions, there is the potential for sanctions to hurt the local despot's local enemies more than his local allies and critical supply sources. It's also possible that you end up hurting both, or that your sanctions are so porous as to be irrelevant.

        I agree, we should drop the sanctions and partake in carpet bombing instead.

      • by swb (14022)

        Usually the debate in the "open line of argument" about the efficacy of sanctions is between people who want to use sanctions to motivate a government versus those that want to use high explosives to motivate a government.

        It's all fine and dandy to argue that economic sanctions don't work or don't achieve the desired goals in a timely fashion (cf. Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Syria), but what's your alternative? Armed interventon or asking nicely?

        • Unfortunately, there generally isn't a good alternative. Problems are not, alas, required to have satisfactory solutions.

          Asking nicely never hurts; but helps approximately as often. Armed intervention typically has consequences that make economic sanctions look like a polite humanitarian gesture, so you have to really have a good reason to use it.

          The 'argument' I was referring to was the question of whether sanctions are effective, even marginally, or whether they are actually counterproductive. If t
          • by swb (14022) on Monday May 07, 2012 @01:45PM (#39917427)

            I think historically sanctions probably work better than the credit they get. At a minimum they raise the cost of doing business since a country under sanctions has to now engage in some subterfuge to keep engaging in whatever the sanctions were supposed to change.

            For severe sanctions, this can mean drastically raised costs -- Iran hasn't been stopped from pursuing its nuclear program, for example, but the few suppliers they have are probably charging the Iranians whatever they want and getting paid up front in an expensive to obtain currency or submarket-priced oil.

            In Syria's case I don't think there have been serious sanctions levied against them until recently. Direct trade with the US was impossible, but there were always satellite/client state Lebanon or other Arab states who weren't subject to the sanctions. The Assads run a near monopoly on anything worthwhile in Syria, so increased wholesale costs are just that, increased wholesale costs.

            As for sanctions hurting the broader cause by hindering opponents or more broadly, allowing a state to trumpet sanctions as the reason for price increases or a shitty currency that only goes so far.

            For one, how effective has resistance EVER been in Syria or Iran? Short of a running guerrilla war without an outside supplier, resistance in those states has been near zero and of limited effectiveness, even now in Syria.

            Secondly, when you have a secret police, censor the media and jail political opponents, your PR of "blaming" sanctions for economic problems will only get you limited support. Iranians aren't stupid and they know that a dictatorial oppressive regime that openly supports terrorism is the real problem and that state policies more in line with Jordan will get them further than state policies more in line with North Korea.

          • by hairyfeet (841228)
            Well then the question should be "Has economic sanctions ever brought about the change desired by the one doing the sanctioning" and as far as i know it has not. If someone has evidence I don't know about of sanctions ever bringing about the desired change without armed intervention please post it, otherwise it smells like a "We are doing SOMETHING...even if its completely pointless' kinda exercise.
        • by isilrion (814117) on Monday May 07, 2012 @04:00PM (#39919005)

          It's all fine and dandy to argue that economic sanctions don't work or don't achieve the desired goals in a timely fashion (cf. Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Syria), but what's your alternative?

          Cuban here. How about just not trying to make the people of that country missplace the blame in the government in hopes that they will raise against it? If it is were so bad, we would just raise without your pressure, and maybe even ask you for support (arguably, the fact that the sanction exists just shows the population that "you" are not the good guys, regardless of our opinion regarding the government - and if you are clearly trying to oppress us, most of us wont side with your "cause"). If it isn't so bad, then why intervene in the first place? It's one thing to refuse to sell weapons and torture devices and to encourage others to do the same. It's quite another (to give an example that should be familiar to slashdot) to interfere with the country's ability to connect to the Internet and at the same time, complain that the horrible dictator wont let us browse the web out of fear.

          One of the reasons that Cuban dissidents are not popular isn't fear of the government... Is that those who are known are clearly paid (in the form of "prizes" won) to follow an US agenda, or can't distinguish between not being free and being poor (cue the ones "exiled" to Spain last year protesting for lack of "freedom" after the spanish government cut their subsidies). The second group are dumb, the first one can't be trusted, and the ones in neither group are silenced... by both national and international media.

          (Full disclosure: I left Cuba mainly for economic reasons, though I also had my dislikes about the government. I suspect that the reason why I only had "dislikes" were the sanctions - it is stupid to blame the Castros for everything when a powerful third party is explicitly trying to make you despair. Given that from here I still can't see any mention of a dissident with a coherent platform, I'm starting to suspect there isn't one.)

          TL;DR: if the only options you are considering are to starve the population, or to outright kill them in an invasion... you are not the "good" guys.

      • by Mabhatter (126906)

        Who's going to push for freedom of speech if they cant legally AFFORD IT? Are people not able to get video games going to matter one bit to a government shooting people in the street?

        The sanctions don't hurt oil or food corporations... They don't really hurt the Dictator... He just flies the luxury goods in bought at the airport on his way back from being scolded by the UN.

        So the only industries that effectively get shut down are ones that NEED international audience and money to function.. Industries that

      • by Patch86 (1465427)

        It's also possible that you end up hurting both, or that your sanctions are so porous as to be irrelevant.

        Well we can rule out pourousness, as the article is suggesting that it is killing off local businesses.

        The sanctions are working as prescribed. The idea of a sanction is to kill of the country's economy, therefore reducing tax revenues, increasing unemployment, and generally making life more miserable for the government. The question isn't whether sanctions work, it's whether they're the right weapon for a given circumstance.

        When the US put sanctions on Cuba during the Cold War, the intention was clear- wea

    • Basher has 55% popularity in Syria, his oppression of the other 45% is definitely wrong, however there are places like Bahrain where the rulers have only 30% support, they are killing doctors who happen to help peaceful protesters shot by shotguns at point blank range by the local enforcement. The difference is that Assad is supported by Iran and Bahrain is a western ally.

      What bull shit, the mighty west comes screaming foul when one of those pissed and frustrated by their policies does something stupid.

      • by rgbrenner (317308)

        Yes, Barshar has 55% popularity in Syria. And Saddam Hussein won 100% of the vote in his last election (up from 99.96% in the previous election).

      • Basher has 55% popularity in Syria.

        How popular are Smasher, Crasher and Biffer?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That 'oppressive dictator' has the support of the majority of Syrians.

      You may want to read something other than your propaganda for a change. Might learn that the world's a little different than what Fox and CNN tell you.

      • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Monday May 07, 2012 @11:31AM (#39915861)

        That 'oppressive dictator' has the support of the majority of Syrians.

        It doesn't matter if he has support of 99% of the population. You still don't set up snipers to indiscriminately shoot civilians, use mortars and tanks to bombard neighborhoods, or block out international media and peacekeeping inspectors.

        • by X0563511 (793323)

          Well, to be fair, if 99% of the population likes it...

          That would be a hell of a large S&M population, I'd say.

      • by poity (465672) on Monday May 07, 2012 @11:53AM (#39916113)

        And 99% of North Koreans support Kim Jong Un (the other 1% are in luxurious diet camps in the mountains). What's your point? Shit, a majority of Americans in February 2003 supported the imminent Iraq invasion. Guess that's alright by your book, and anyone who said anything different was a victim of anti-American propaganda right?

      • What? Who is the source of your data? How do you get honest, objective polling data out of Syria??
    • by hey! (33014) on Monday May 07, 2012 @11:34AM (#39915893) Homepage Journal

      The summary doesn't "blame it all on George Bush"; it points out the reasonably neutral fact that the sanctions he put in place hobbled Syrian game development companies. Since putting economic pressure on the regime is the *point* of sanctions, the fact that it worked in this case is neither here nor there as to whether the sanctions were justified.

      Perhaps you think the idea of a Syrian game development company is just silly. I don't see why a county of 22 million people couldn't produce a few successful small time game development studios, especially after the iPhone came on the market. The top two universities in Syria have 180,000 and 56,000 undergraduates respectively. Damascus University offers graduate programs in computer science and informatics through an in-country cooperative program with a British university.

      Sounds like a country which could support a few companies in the gaming industry. And it wouldn't be silly at all for some Syrian hackers to start companies to produce games. Remember, it's not about *playing* games; it's about putting bread on the table by *creating* games for others to play. The median income from an iOS app is something like $3000. That's a lot of money in a country with a per capita GDP of $2800.

    • But very clever to blame it all on George Bush.

      Shame on me, I RTFA. They blame it on two things, and they're right in the title: sanctions and violence.

    • Well no, there's no doubt oppressive dictatorships frequently don't create great environments for small businesses.

      But Bush banning the import of game engines certainly didn't help the matter. It only compounds the problem when sanctions make the people more dependent on the dictatorship, not less.

    • Okay, so here's the thing. It's not like Bashir Assad came to power just before the industry...small as it may have been...crumbled. He was there all along, and his father Hafez before him, who was even worse. So, if the dictatorship is what killed the industry, how did the industry come to be in the first place, eh? Sanctions kill business; that's the whole point of them. They deny trade and commerce, and in doing so cause economic hardship. And I think you're reading too much into the Huffington Pos

    • by leereyno (32197)

      What it must be like to be a leftist....

      When conservatives and libertarians zig, they say we should have zagged. When we zag, they say we should have zigged. When one of their own follows in our footsteps and continues our policies, all criticism stops because that criticism was nothing but a cynical ploy in the first place. Scandals involving us are evidence of moral failure and a matter of national importance. Scandals involving them are a distraction and an attempt at divisiveness.

      If called on their

  • Quirkat.... how do our pronounce it?

    Drawing on my native language I am assuming it's "Queer cat".

    • by Canazza (1428553)

      Over there, normally Qu's drop the u sound or, with an I turn it into a double ee. So I think it's Keerkat, Like Meercat but less simples.

  • Now we'll *never* see "Grand Theft Jihad III"!

    • by P-niiice (1703362)
      Ah yes, just throw the word 'jihad' in there. Instant comedy.

      I wonder if they do the same over there? Just throw the word 'hot dog' or Uncle Sam into something barely related to the subject at hand for instant comedy about Americans.
      • by Nidi62 (1525137)

        Ah yes, just throw the word 'jihad' in there. Instant comedy.

        Shut up. I keel you!

      • You're right. Grand Theft Jihad? So in the game you stead jihads? Huh?

        He should have worked car bomb into the title somehow. Now THAT'S comedy!!!1!121! (bing! zip! rimshot!)

    • by Shoten (260439)

      No, but I hear the previews of 'Grand Theft Carbomb' are very promising. Very realistic...you blow up about a dozen people, and then a JDAM levels your house, and you pretend that you're winning! :)

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Monday May 07, 2012 @10:33AM (#39915245) Homepage

    For all of their bullshit about human rights, the neocon Bush administration threw the religious and ethnic minorities of Iraq to the wolves in the name of "democracy." Iraq has lost half of its Christian population because of the violence and persecution they've faced since the fall of the Ba'athist regime. The US needs to stop meddling in these countries; the "freedom fighters" are often as bad as the regimes they want to replace. Hell, even now in post-Kadaffi Libya, the Berbers are getting mistreated even worse than before.

    When this is what democracy means, I say "fuck democracy."

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      So...I guess we can blame Obama for the fleeing of Christians from Egypt and Libya for the same reasons right?

      • So...I guess we can blame Obama for the fleeing of Christians from Egypt and Libya for the same reasons right?

        We performed a full-scale invasion of Egypt and Libya?

        • by Mashiki (184564)

          Does one need to do a full scale invasion or simply sit by and do nothing to be complicit in the same act? The answer is blindingly simple.

          • I dont think it is simple, and for the record Im no fan of Obama.

          • by lister king of smeg (2481612) on Monday May 07, 2012 @11:09AM (#39915569)

            So it is bad to invade, but it is also bad to sit back and stay out of the rest of the worlds affairs? make up your minds people

            • by Mashiki (184564)

              So it is bad to invade, but it is also bad to sit back and stay out of the rest of the worlds affairs? make up your minds people

              Well that was the point of my post. Kinda funny isn't it? It's kinda like gee, where are all those 'protests' about "war" and all that jazz that people had going on during Bush's term, yet when Obama launched a new war, there was silence.

            • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday May 07, 2012 @01:38PM (#39917359) Journal

              When you stand back, you are not the one directly responsible for what happens in those countries.

              When you invade and trigger the persecutions, you are.

              So, yes, it is worse to invade if you do it like that. The point is really rather that if you do invade on premise of "bringing freedom and democracy", then stay there long enough to actually make it work, forcibly if needed. You did that with Japan back in the day, so it's not a pipe dream.

              Problem is, this kind of civilization project requires stronger commitment in terms of both money and military power. More importantly, it requires being honest about what you're doing and how, rather than playing PR games about how locals are running the show. Something that America seems to not have the balls for these days...

            • by Hillgiant (916436)

              So it is bad to invade, but it is also bad to sit back and stay out of the rest of the worlds affairs? make up your minds people

              This is the middle east. Any opinion (or even fact) you may have regarding the political situation there is WRONG. HORRIBLY WRONG. And only HITLER would propose such HORRIBLY WRONG opinions (or even facts).

          • Does one need to do a full scale invasion or simply sit by and do nothing to be complicit in the same act? The answer is blindingly simple.

            So... if we interfere it's our fault, and if we don't interfere... it's still our fault?

            Wow, I guess I was wrong, my country doesn't hold a monopoly on idiots who reason in a circular motion...

    • Iraq's mess is the first Bush's fault for listening to the consensus that we shouldn't go the rest of the way into Baghdad. The people were looking to us to liberate them from Saddam, instead we stopped short, leaving him in power for another decade. No wonder they hate us.

  • Never figured Syria had a large gaming economy. Sanctions were supposedly imposed when Syria supposedly started supplying weapons to Iraq. Probably just as much BS as the rest of what Bush said but I doubt it was to ruin the gaming industry there.

    • I think the point of economic sanctions to ruin a nation's entire economy. And Slashdot picked out just the games part so it will fit in with this website.
      • by ScentCone (795499)

        I think the point of economic sanctions to ruin a nation's entire economy

        No, the point of sanctions is to urge the sensible people in the country to make [Insert Oppressive Dictator or Evil Policy Here] go away, for their own sake and everyone else's ... without having to get into armed conflict from the outside. When someone like Saddam Hussein shows his own people that he's perfectly willing to steal their food/medicine relief support for his pet army, and take the oil-for-food cash for use in building more really ugly palaces and to buy missle parts from North Korea, then sa

  • really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Monday May 07, 2012 @10:37AM (#39915283) Homepage Journal

    assad is a murderous tyrant, but we want to focus on sanctions george bush put on his regime... and its effects on the gaming industry? this is the important thing to talk about?

    if you demonstrate an eagerness to talk about the usa and american actions, or GAMING, for crying out loud... on the topic of a country currently under the full force of mass murder of civilians by a true tyrant on a daily basis for months... you look like you are less motivated by actual principles and more like you are either obsessed with the usa or lack all proportionality in your ability to think about and understand the world you live in

    really? the fucking gaming industry is the important issue here? i'm pretty fucking sure the entire syrian gaming industry would agree with me: "uhhh... that's a little unimportant right now, they are murdering us"

    there are people dying in this world for rights that some people in the west take completely for granted... because obviously, it's more important to talk about fucking videogames, on the topic of syria right now

    wake the fuck up, you coddled fat suburbanites

    • by Microlith (54737)

      Oh, shut up you sanctimonious twat. It's looking at the effect on an industry as a result of Assad's destructive actions and the sanctions they incurred.

      It's called taking a perspective, one of many you can have in places as diverse as the middle east.

      • did you see the part of the story summary where it focuses on the sanctions under the bush govt?

        or is it more important to you to call people sanctimonious twats on the basis of reactions that only exist inside your head?

        • by Microlith (54737)

          Yeah he points out the sanctions hit the nation hard and killed an industry that was just starting up. And you whine that they even gave the games industry over there a slice of attention.

          • current events pop quiz for you: what is happening in syria right now?

            how would rate the importance of that current event in regard to the topic of the videogame industry there?

            scratch that: if a syrian game developer were in this comment thread right now (something that would actually endanger his life), do you think maybe he would be saying something like, gee, i dunno "HELLO, SPOILED FAT CLUELESS WESTERNERS, WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT VIDEOGAMES, THEY ARE MURDERING US"

            what do you think?

            this is re

            • by Microlith (54737)

              current events pop quiz for you: what is happening in syria right now?

              A world of shit.

              how would rate the importance of that current event in regard to the topic of the videogame industry there?

              Probably higher, but that doesn't make them mutually exclusive.

              if a syrian game developer were in this comment thread right now (something that would actually endanger his life), do you think maybe he would be saying something like, gee, i dunno "HELLO, SPOILED FAT CLUELESS WESTERNERS, WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABO

              • "Do you seriously think we're ignoring everything else that's going on and focusing solely on video games? "

                yes, i do actually believe that there are fat clueless spoiled pampered westerners who care more about videogames than reality

                i don't go into videogame forums and scream about syria. but on the topic of syria itself, the cognitive dissonance is too much for me to put up with this

                there really are more important things going on this world than the fucking framerate on your fps, you fat spoiled clueless

                • there really are more important things going on this world than the fucking framerate on your fps, you fat spoiled clueless fucks

                  And that's exactly why we have BBC, CNN, Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS, Al-Jazeera, Reuters, AP, etc etc etc. We have Slashdot to talk about things like videogames, you fat spoiled clueless fuck.

      • And once again the game industry is utterly unimportant in this context. Its not like it was one of Syrias mainstay industries that is now in shambles. I mean, if you asked the average Syrian, do you think he would care in the lease about the state of the Syrian gaming industry?

        • by Microlith (54737)

          They may not care, but it's interesting to look at what happens to a familiar industry when your nation is hit by sanctions thanks to your utterly insane ruler. It also shows that said ruler isn't necessarily impacted, but the economy takes a hit and your best and brightest are forced to go elsewhere.

          • by Nidi62 (1525137)

            They may not care, but it's interesting to look at what happens to a familiar industry when your nation is hit by sanctions thanks to your utterly insane ruler. It also shows that said ruler isn't necessarily impacted, but the economy takes a hit and your best and brightest are forced to go elsewhere.

            The point of economic sanctions is that it's not supposed to impact the leader of the target state. If you want to impact the leader, you impose travel sanctions and freeze any externally held assets. The point of economic sanctions is to essentially strangle the economy and the government's ability to undertake regular government functions (supply/pay the military, hand out pensions, provide basic services). Generally when economic sanctions are imposed it coincides with an increased tempo and possibly

    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Monday May 07, 2012 @10:49AM (#39915397) Journal

      assad is a murderous tyrant, but we want to focus on sanctions george bush put on his regime... and its effects on the gaming industry? this is the important thing to talk about?

      The sanctions are part of the history of Syria's currently ailing game development industry. Think of this as maybe a case history of how a destabilized nation can lose out on arts and entertainment due to sanctions. This is, arguably, the point of sanctions: not to deplete food, water, shelter but more so the nice-to-haves (one of which is games).

      if you demonstrate an eagerness to talk about the usa and american actions, or GAMING, for crying out loud... on the topic of a country currently under the full force of mass murder of civilians by a true tyrant on a daily basis for months... you look like you are less motivated by actual principles and more like you are either obsessed with the usa or lack all proportionality in your ability to think about and understand the world you live in

      really? the fucking gaming industry is the important issue here? i'm pretty fucking sure the entire syrian gaming industry would agree with me: "uhhh... that's a little unimportant right now, they are murdering us"

      You seem to have misread this article from the PoV as we are trying to help save Syrian lives. That's not really the case and the mainstream media has already covered this issue fairly well. You're actually reading a techie site called Slashdot where games and technology are two important topics. While politics and conflict sometimes find their way into the discussion, it's usually kept to the topics most important to us. Just because humans are losing their lives and that's the most important thing, doesn't mean we have to ignore the facets that are important to us and also affected by this conflict. As such, you can turn your attention to a variety of other news sources if you want body counts or UN actions. But if you're curious about the collateral to Syria's Games Industry, here is a unique story on it. It's not meant to replace the reporting on the actual conflict but mildly augment it.

      there are people dying in this world for rights that some people in the west take completely for granted... because obviously, it's more important to talk about fucking videogames, on the topic of syria right now

      wake the fuck up, you coddled fat suburbanites

      You seem to make the assumption that because we're talking about Syrian games and not people dying that we don't care about it. Did you know that last night The Simpsons aired at its regular time slot instead of emergency 24/7 reporting on all television channels about the conflict in Syria? And I suppose we're all horrible awful inhuman demons for not constantly talking about death in Syria? Instead of instructing me to "wake the fuck up, you coddled fat suburbanite" I suggest you consider the possibility that I am capable of consuming a very diverse range of news reports, this being one of a particular topic. And to stop assuming that this is the only coverage of Syria I'm being exposed to.

      Here at Slashdot, games are art. Art is culture. And a destruction of culture is indeed an important topic. Syria appeared to be a major hub of game development in the Middle East and Arab World so of course it is important to note when their game industry is sent back to the stone age. This means that a large part of the world isn't getting something that is integral to our lifestyle and it will be a long time before that industry catches up with the West. Which is truly unfortunate because, unlike nuclear weapons, these are cultural experiences that can be enjoyed the world over.

      • i too like to look at ants building small mounds on the side of the road instead of the fiery multicar pile up and people screaming for their lives two feet away

        zzz

        • i too like to look at ants building small mounds on the side of the road instead of the fiery multicar pile up and people screaming for their lives two feet away

          zzz

          Well, back in 2009, you were submitting [slashdot.org] and commenting [slashdot.org] on a story about violent video game law in the United States. At the time the United States was being accused of civilian deaths in Afghanistan [youtube.com] yet you seemed capable to "look at ants building small mounds on the side of the road" in that situation. Now what is so special about Syria that we can't talk about the state of their video games? Surely -- if you yourself can submit and comment on articles about US video game law while said country wages wa

          • on the subject of syria, it is absurd to focus on molehills instead of mountains. don't ask me, i would be willing to wager any syrian would agree with me here

            on the subject of the usa in 2009, the involvement of the usa in afghanistan would be topic #1... in a topic thread about afghanistan. any afghani would agree with you on that

            so if those topics you cite had to do directly with afghanistan, you would be correct

    • by bbbaldie (935205)
      Yes, shut up. Dammit, we have a chance to rant about Bush here, and you're ruining it for everybody!
    • Apparently the Syrians themselves want to talk about it. If they want to talk about it, I can't see why you should have a problem with it. And you probably don't, after ranting like that, you'll probably go drink a coffee and forget about it.

      This line was hilarious, "You can test the action on the streets and get back to your desktop to script it on your keyboard," and it comes from a Syrian himself. Best of luck to all freedom-loving Syrians.
      • escapist black humor does help. a syrian in syria needs no reminder of what is most important in syria right now. he can hear it and see it. we owe it to him to keep our minds focused on what is most important too, for his sake

        • Are you suggesting Obama should send the US army over there to intervene? Because words are pointless.
          • no, i suggest russia and china grow a human conscience and allow INTERNATIONAL forces to intervene, as with libya, with good success

            • no, i suggest russia and china grow a human conscience

              Good luck with that.

            • i suggest russia and china grow a human conscience

              OK.

              Um... how does that happen, exactly?

            • allow INTERNATIONAL forces to intervene, as with libya, with good success

              What "success"? The one where rebels are openly flying al-Qaeda flags over captured government buildings, are "cleaning out" towns that were disproportionally loyalist, and are ethnically cleansing the country of its black population?

              Yup, that's exactly the kind of thing Syria needs. In fact it'll probably go even better there, what with it having a prominent split between Sunni majority and Alawi and Christian minorities. If Libya model is followed, where the West did not intervene directly other than supp

    • by Mabhatter (126906)

      But it IS important!

      Effectively the sanctions only destroy the budding MIDDLE CLASS. That is the part of society that "keeps" the peace in civilization because they NEED law and order to work. The poor dont care about freedom... In most cultures the poor have "freedom" to live in their ghettos and fight over tablescraps. The Rich just put up taller fences and throw some bread and circus every once and a while.

      Groups like Programmers are where REAL FREEDOM is appreciated. They need freedo
      Of speech to

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 07, 2012 @10:37AM (#39915287)

    Yes, economic sanctions harm a country's economy. This should not be news. That's precisely what they're designed to do. It's the stick to encourage behavior (in this particilar case, the decades-long occupation of Lebanon and state sponsorship of Hamas).

    But, yeah, they do have side effects. And THIS is the one you're focusing on? Oh, no, we can't produce videogames domestically as easily!

    You want to talk side effects of sanctions? Talk about people starving without food aid. Talk of infrastructure crumbling because they can't get funding to finance those projects (which will cripple the economy for decades). Talk about people who can't get proper medical care. Talk about small shop owners who can't make ends meet. But video game developers? THEY'RE the victims you want to cry out for?

    • And this is Slashdot so you're modded "Funny". But if you said all of them deserve to die anyway, you probably would have been modded "Informative".
  • First time I've heard of Syrian Game developers...guess it's also going to be the last.
  • Not sure by whom, but I've heard about something like this (>5?) years ago.

  • inb4 some liberal rambling about how Bush hates the gaming industry.
  • Any momentum Syria may have been building as a regional game development hub slowed considerably in 2004, when then-US President George W. Bush levied economic sanctions against the country.

    So Bush made the conscious decision to prohibit investment in Syria, but Syria's president is responsible for this. And when a man beats his wife, it's her fault for "making him do it," right?

    • by ScentCone (795499)

      So Bush made the conscious decision to prohibit investment in Syria, but Syria's president is responsible for this.

      Correct.

      And when a man beats his wife, it's her fault for "making him do it," right?

      I don't know... is she supplying weapons and cash to terrorist networks? Is she running a Ba'athist dictatorship that took delivery of lots of Saddam Hussein's VX gas stockpiles and uses snipers to kill pro-democracy political protesters on the street? If she is, then yeah, she made him do it.

      So, we have to assume you're just clumisly trying to be ironic, or that you're incredibly disingenuous, or that you're badly under-informed and form really poor understandings of the nature of the world. P

      • by J'raxis (248192)

        All irrelevant. None of that changes the fact that the U.S. Government's actions, not the actions of Syria, are the cause of the games industry collapse in Syria.

  • I thought it said Symbian games industry. I wasn't aware there was such a thing.

    Now the Sybian games industry, that's a different kettle of fish altogether...

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