mandag 22. mars 2010

Proof that video games are a universal language: Iranian team creates a cool game

Video games are having an unquestionable influence on culture around the world. The Swiss have moved to ban violent video games altogether. But gamers are like the critters in a round of “whack a mole.” They just keep popping up in unexpected locations.
A 20-member team in Tehran has created a game, Garshasp the Monster Slayer, which launches soon on the PC and has drawn international praise. It’s a fantasy game that draws upon Iranian myths, putting the player in a Persian world where he or she must solve puzzles and slay monsters called “deevs,” according to a story in the Washington Post.
It’s telling that the team led by business developer Arash Jafari and chief executive Amir Hossein Fassihi was able to pull together such a complex project at a time when the headlines are all about Iran’s brinksmanship on nuclear weaponry, anti-government protests, and economic sanctions. And it’s ironic that a French company, Ubisoft, has ridden to new heights with its Prince of Persia game series — set in ancient Iran — which has become so popular that it has been made into a big-budget movie.
The Post reports that Garshasp has won praise at game conferences in the United Arab Emirates, Germany and France. It was made by a team that started out by creating web sites. Once they accumulated enough money, they started work on their dream of building a game, using Google as “our university.” It was a risky venture, since games have no copyright protection in Iran. They used open source software as the basis for the game engine. They eventually got funding from Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. A German distributor plans to sell it in Europe.
Iran is not the only unexpected place where games are emerging. I wrote last year about a Namibian company that created an online Sudoku game. At GamesBeat@GDC last week, I met Esteban Sosnik, co-founder and chief executive of Atakama Labs in Chile. And I recently heard about Leti Games, a company in Ghana. As we noted in our panel at our event, games are truly becoming borderless. It’s not easy to make games that match the cultural sensibilities in every nation, as the Swiss have shown us. But gaming is spreading like an inexorable force.
It is interesting that Jafari and Fassihi are relying upon games as their form of expression. It is more evidence that games can be a unifying force. Game developers say that video games are a universal language, shared by the world. Amen to that.

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