BRISTOL, UK DECEMBER 13th, 2012: Games have been growing in force as a medium but still tend to be seen as pure entertainment. That perception is being challenged by a new release that explores the war in Syria in an interactive form, titled 'Endgame Syria'. Developed as part of the new project GameTheNews.net, creators Auroch Digital are using rapid-game development methods to build games quickly in response to real-world events. Created in a development time of two weeks, the game allows users to explore the options open to the rebels as they push the conflict to its endgame. Each choice the user makes has consequences – the types of military units deployed, the political paths trodden. Not only does each choice impact the current situation but they also affect the final outcome. While the game was made rapidly, the developers report that even over the two weeks of development, they still had to change elements to reflect events happening in the real-world. “We wanted the events and actions in the game to mirror the real situation,” the game's designer Tomas Rawlings explained, “So while creating this experience, we were also continually looking at the news and adding or removing components to keep the content current.” Endgame Syria is free to download.
Some may think that the choice of a game as a medium for this subject is questionable, but Tomas is adamant this is not the case, “As game developers, games are a natural way for us to express our thoughts on the world around us. Games don't have to be frivolous or lightweight; they can and do take on serious issues and open them up to new audiences.”
Objections to the medium might be an issue of understanding the form, Tomas continues, “If the word 'game' is troubling then we're happy for this to be called a 'simulation' or an 'interactive experience'. For us, the point is that we're using this medium as a means to express and explore the uncertainties of this situation. A game allows you to re-explore the same territory and see how different choices play out and understand that those choices have far-reaching consequences.”
The developers say that if this game brings the issues of the war to an audience who might otherwise not have engaged with it, then the risk of making something controversial rather than playing it safe will have been worthwhile. The game free to download for Android via Google Play and is available to play on the GameTheNews.net website as a HTML5 game and also due out on iPhone, iPad and iPad Touch imminently. Full details can be found at http://bit.ly/endgamesyria.
The project was created using GameMaker Studio development technology. Game the News is supported by the University of Abertay Dundee's Prototype Fund with additional help from the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol.