Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Iranian video games, nuclear weapons, and the scourge of international terrorism

Actually, this blogpost has nothing at all to do with nuclear weapons or terrorism (unless online castle-and-resource management games count), but we thought we would go with a dramatic headline, FOX News-style.

Instead, the Second International Computer Game Festival was recently held in Tehran at the Mosalla (mosque) of Imam Khomeini on 26-30 June 2012. Iranian PRESS TV offers a report:

Despite the “international” label, this is largely a showcase for made-in-Iran games (which, in terms of genres, differ little from made-outside-Iran games, as you’ll see—notwithstanding the reference to “Islamic and Iranian culture and values” in the report).

Of particular interest—well, to geeky political science gamer types—is the forthcoming game Battle in the Gulf of Aden, a military/first person shooter based on Iranian anti-piracy patrols. Needless to say, it features exciting things like heliborne insertions and raids against pirate strongholds, rather than a more accurate (and infinitely more boring) rendering of the patrol/patrol/search dhow/patrol/patrol/escort freighter/patrol sequence that characterizes most of what is actually done by naval detachments in the area.

Public unveiling of the game by the government (although not by the developers) also came with some political spin:

In a ceremony attended by the commander of the Iranian Navy and Head of the military’s political ideological organization, the first computer game involving Iran’s army was launched. According to Head of the Cultural and Public Relations Division of Iran’s Armed Forces, Hojatoleslam Vahdi, the Battle of Aden is a top-quality computer game that is comparable to foreign games. He further stated that when news leaked of the army’s plans to produce this type of game, the foreign media claimed that Iran is taking its young people, through the game, to the shores of the Gulf of Aden so that they can fight pirates. Vahdi emphasized that Iran recognizes no geographical boundaries in its fight against its enemies and is prepared to defend its interests, even those that in a distant location. He added that Battle in the Gulf of Adenis just the first step of its kind in the cyber arena.

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