More game developers are going after current events as the subject of their creations, and now even news organizations are using the medium to discuss what’s happening in the world.
The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) recently released Syrian Journey on its website. It’s a game that puts you in the shoes of a Syrian family that has decided to flee the country, and it presents you with a number of tough choices that have no correct answer. By forcing you to make the decisions that real people face every day, this choose-your-own adventure is perhaps a little bit better at putting players in Syrian shoes than just reading a news story.
And that’s the point: Everything that happens in Syrian Journey is something that has happened to someone as part of the conflict in the country.
“The routes, options, and outcomes in this Syrian Journey feature were based on real stories,” BBC reporter Mamdouh Akbiek and Eloise Dicker wrote. “[They were] uncovered by extensive research as part of a BBC Arabic digital project exploring migration from Syria.”
Syrian Journey joins a growing trend that developers call “Game the News.” It was an idea started by the United Kingdom-based publisher Auroch Digital, and it results in games about the Mexican drug war, Jack the Ripper, and the U.S. National Security Agency.
Most notably, GameTheNews made headlines in late 2012 when it debuted its own take on the Syrian crisis. Called Endgame: Syria, the mobile and web game had players making decisions for all of the countries involved in the war to illustrate how convoluted those interests are. The point was to show that, in almost all situations, the Syrian people would likely fare the worst.
For the last four years, Syria has had this ongoing crisis. It started as an uprising and it evolved into a civil war between the forces of President Bashar al-Assad and armed resistors that include organizations like the Free Syrian Army and the Islamic Front. Simultaneously, Syria is dealing with the terrorist organization ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), which has overtaken cities in both Iraq and Syria.
The result of this war is that civilians have few safe places to live in the country. That may make you ask: Why don’t they just leave? Well, that’s where Syrian Journey is so crucial. It shows just how perilous a journey to Egypt or Turkey is and how so many things can go wrong and leave a family with nothing — or worse.
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