Tuesday, July 17, 2007
The Cultural Onslaught
In response to Kuma War's Assault On Iran video game, where players carry out an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, an Iranian student group has introduced a new video game called Rescue The Nuke Scientist. (I'm thinking there's a "lost in translation" thing going on with the title here.)
Players must rescue an Iranian husband-and-wife team of nuclear engineers who have been kidnapped while on a religious pilgrimage to Iraq and spirited off to Israel. According to the group (the same outfit responsible for the 2005 "World Without Zionism" conference where Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be "wiped off the map"), "This is our defence against the enemy's cultural onslaught."
At the risk of taking this sort of lunacy too seriously, what's interesting about the two games is the stark contrast in their psychological profiles. Here's the description of the American player's mission:
As a Special Forces soldier in this playable mission, you will infiltrate Iran's nuclear facility at Natanz, located 150 miles south of Iran's capital of Teheran. But breaching the security cordon around the hardened target won't be easy. Your team's mission: Infiltrate the base, secure evidence of illegal uranium enrichment, rescue your man on the inside, and destroy the centrifuges that promise to take Iran into the nuclear age. Never before has so much hung in the balance... millions of lives, and the very future of democracy could be at stake.
Here's the Iranian mission:
Game players take on the role of Iranian security forces carrying out a mission code-named "The Special Operation", which involves penetrating fortified locations to free the nuclear scientists, who are moved from Iraq to Israel.
To complete the game successfully, players have to enter Israel to rescue the nuclear scientists, kill US and Israeli troops and seize their laptops containing secret information.
It's hard to miss the sense of victimhood and narrow national pride that drives the Iranian mission, as opposed to the heroic grandiosity of the American one. And just as I was about to type out, Not exactly the profile of an aggressive expansionist state, it occured to me that a sense of victimhood and national pride are in fact exactly the profile of quite a few aggressive expansionist states.