Rami Ismail, H.P. Gamedev, expressed disappointment at the lack of communication with the media about the Arab-Iraqi perspective and opinion on the sixth day of Fallujah. Six Days in Fallujah is an upcoming first-person shooter video game developed by Highwire Games and published by Victura. It was described by Highwire Games as a tactical shooting game and would be the first video game to focus directly on the war in Iraq. The game was initially cancelled because it was funded by the CIA in 2010. The accusation that the game was used for propaganda and recruiting purposes didn’t help either. In a long and detailed tweet, he wrote
I will be very honest with all of you in this thread. I’m disappointed in the gaming media.
I’m a big fan of their creativity, their ability to see the story, their interest in games is so great that no matter what happens, they put time and energy into it. But they don’t care about people from the Middle East. Imagine a game where you twist the real murder of over 185,000 women. There would have been interviews with the creator, but at the same time all the news about games and gaming culture would have been full of articles about women and their views. Imagine a game of distortion of the reality of the murder of over 185,000 blacks. There would have been interviews with the creator, but there would also have been numerous articles in the gaming media reporting on blacks, their views and their anger against gambling. Imagine a game that distorts the targeted, real and ongoing murder of over 185,000 people of any minority. Imagine that women, people of color, gays, transgender people, disabled people, Jews, poor people, whatever. People who all deserve better. Imagine the story is just an interview with Dev. Our blood is the cheapest in the world. Perhaps the death and murder of Arab people in real life, day after day, has become too normal for the gaming press to remember that we are human.
Maybe they don’t have Arabs on their team, so they don’t see the Arab reaction to it, and aren’t aware of the surveillance. Perhaps they are afraid to write against the US government, which is not entirely unjustified given the commercial considerations of US policy or the excessive scope of the US government’s censorship of their wartime behavior. But that’s his job. Perhaps they fail to see their own racism when they call for dialogue about the critical perspectives of America’s wars. The criticism of the wars in the United States comes from American veterans, American protesters, American widows, American politicians, American critics and American pacifists. We are the subjects. We can’t talk. Either way, the games press has let the Arab-Muslim community down today. They shared only one interview last week with the creator of the Six Days of Fallujah, with the only American/Western critic – even when the rebuttal was compelling and strong – they failed to give us a voice. You may be wondering, Rami, why do you think they contacted you? You’re Egyptian, not Iraqi. I think so, because when the games press needs something Arabic or Muslim, they come to me. Because I know all the Iraqi developers the game press would know – if not directly, then indirectly.
If one of us was asked to talk, I’d probably know. But since I don’t know anyone, I can guarantee you that either no one was questioned, or so little that it mostly escaped me. Because this request is usually forwarded to me by this promoter. It’s too risky for industrial Arabs, Muslims, brown people to speak out publicly. Indeed, the United States continues to criticize Gamedev, and will deny you entry if you speak ill of him. Keep in mind that the United States now requires five years of social media information to enter the country. Remember, if someone sends you a Whatsapp photo criticizing the United States, the US sends brown people back to the border and that photo is automatically stored on your phone. Mostly brown people? Most Arabs? Muslims? We have enough to do with industrial racism and the realities of westernized industry that most of us can’t see it: If the U.S. wants to ban me, I have my options. I’m one of the lucky ones, because I was an independent.
So if I’ve received no requests from the press, no requests from fellow developers to respond to their requests, no requests to put anyone in touch with the press, and if I don’t see any articles with our voices – that means no effort has been made to get us talking. It’s that simple. And so the cycle continues: brown people kill, Americans say. They say it’s hard to see your country going to a fake war. They talk about justice for veterans and veterans say war is an abomination. My people die in silence. In a way, it’s the same relationship to the Six Days of Fallujah that Fallujah itself gives us: we’re subjects filtered through the American prism to get nuances only when the story fits the plot. We will never be able to determine the direction of the conversation. We never talk. As we die. See how the press sends out articles without a single Arab voice on their website or in their article? They’re like Six Days in Fallujah. Do you see anyone tweeting their burning American opinion without letting an Arab speak or demanding to be heard? They’re like Six Days in Fallujah. So I pointed out yesterday that I don’t see a reaction from the press, and that several people have reached out to address the problem. Several freelance writers to pitch the idea, a dedicated writer who saw my tweet. A committed writer asked a mutual friend what it was about.
Some podcasts have already signed up as well. But for consumer platforms, websites, podcasts, livestreaming? Nothing. Right now, the biggest conversation request I’ve received is still the Gamergater podcast, which had to become independent after no one else wanted to deal with its bullshit. But we needed an Arab who had spent a decade building an audience on Twitter to visibly lose his shit on Twitter enough for anyone to even get the idea that we were needed in CENT. And even then, I had to ask for it, beg for it. The media games you write like Six Days in Fallujah take out the Arab agency. Talk about how play turns us into silent props and death into context rather than action. How it keeps victims from telling the truth while perpetrators talk about their pain. They do the same thing. You don’t have to talk to me, but you can’t put the creator of this game on the front page without some Iraqi and/or Arab and/or Muslim somewhere making their voice heard. If there were no other minority, you would not be playing a game that so distorts the real slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people. You have to be better than that. You should. Because every time you fail, the propaganda works. We are dehumanized. We are the subject. Our death is an American context without our voice. We’re the target. And the next time the United States wants to bomb us, public opinion will kill us again.
They should be better because the international media failed to save the lives of those who died in Fallujah, Iraq. Right now, the lives, freedom and dignity of the two billion people living today, of whom I am one, depend in part on your ability to show us up as full human beings. Are you going to fall down again? Spare me another moment of reporting on the Six Day – or any other game in our culture where you kill our people – without us. If your team doesn’t speak the language, correct them. If you don’t know us, fix it. Let’s talk. Better than six days in Fallujah. You’re welcome to join us. A fan of your work.
This post was originally tweeted on July 17 by Rami Ismail (رامي) (@tha_rami). February 2021.
I decided to focus on this point because it brings up a very important discussion about how Arabs or any other group are always represented in the media, and since this game is based on a real war event, it is all the more important that the voices of both sides are heard and that the event is told in the most factual way possible!
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