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BTW, should be noted it's a Shockwave Director movie, so Linux users are out of luck. Pity!


It should also be noted that Gonzalo must be horribly jet lagged in that photo.


i find the simplicity of that game to be its weakness; it's hard to make a valid editorial point when your argument is simplified to the point of inanity. ("your" meaning the creators of the game.) assuming that the argument is "attempting to kill terrorists while actually killing civilians only results in more terrorists", they're really fighting a strawman. nobody argues that this in and of itself is positive. what you would need for the simulation to argue anything coherent is a linked world showing an area being targeted by terrorists. because then you would see that "doing nothing" still results in terror (or else you would at least be making a coherent argument that it does not). if "editorial gaming" can't offer any more depth than a bad editorial cartoon, what's the point of it?


This game insults the intelligence. I let the terrorists run around for a bit without firing a shot and they didn't hurt anything. I assume the authors believe terrorists to be peaceful civilians?


Yeah, it could have been very cool to take this to the next level.

Have terrorists shooting at you from time to time and also have them blowing up civilians on their own. Then continue to part where you blowing them up often causes civilian casualties.

In other words, it would have been better to have "not shoot" be a bad choice instead of the path to peace.


I loved it! Profound, relevant, funny and political.



You wouldn't expect the terrorists to go around blowing stuff up if you don't do anything about it, 'cause like, this game is about trying to get the terrorists out of somewhere they live. Kinda like how the IRA didn't bomb all of Eire.


Interesting... I found myself first thinking "wow, this is a lot of work to go to in order to say one 'little' thing". Which led me to believe that that's not what the authors were trying to do. Which led me to think about the fact that I don't necessarily care what the authors were trying to do, it's how I incorporate it into my own context that is what matters more to me. Which led me to realize that even a simple simulation gives me room to actively participate in creating meaning in a different way than static textual or visual presentations like editorials and cartoons. Which led me to think more deeply about these issues. Which led me to realize that this newsgaming thing is indeed going to be as cool as it seemed to me initially.

I take it that some of the above posters didn't find a similar chain of realizations :-).


"I loved it! Profound, relevant, funny and political. Brilliant."

PB summed it up pretty tightly. I'm a little confused by some comments, though.

"This game insults the intelligence. [...] I assume the authors believe terrorists to be peaceful civilians?" - mike

To my knowledge, terrorists aren't random PK'ers.

"it would have been better to have "not shoot" be a bad choice instead of the path to peace." - Snowmit

I only understand that comment if you disagree with the authors message. Otherwise I think you missed the point of the simulation.

Anyway that might be going off topic, it's nice to see a game being used as a vehicle for something relevant and important. It would be better if there was some more depth to it, though, such as interaction between opposing countries or religions and their reactions to you for helping or hurting either side. Still great work.

Ben Sawyer

Interesting, obviously there are some shortcomings depending on how you view the project and your own specific viewpoints of terrorist politics. I think that in positioning it as a "simulation" they invite the sort of valid attacks people have already begun to make here. If it was focused more on being pitched as an editorial cartoon in the form of game media I don't think those attacks would be as open.

Seperate from that has anyone actually tried to think about various strategies as they play in the game and how they get responded to.

First off I found if you keep bombing the same area and you focus long enough eventually you get a clean kill - i.e. on terrorist.

I found also that if you bomb around enough buildings before they grow back up you can get a better chance at a clean kill.

It also pays to focus on where terrorists are going not where they've been given the latency in the targeting (not the latency afterwards).

I was suprised to see buildings going back up - that sort of doomed my overall strategy where I was systematically bombing out an entire area to make it easier to target terrorists hiding behind buildings.

Did anyone else successfully kill the dog? Was it a terrorist or not? No one seemed to cry over the dog. As a dog love I'm outraged.

So while this game doesn't reward ineffective initial bombing, indiscriminitly bombing the same area is an unintended strategy if you ask me.

Did anyone else start to peel away the game mechanics themselves?

One thing I would have liked is a counter saying how many clean kills I had, how many terrorists I had killed, and how many kids.

Also I agree having the terrorists actually do something bad unprovoked might have created a new layer of moral dilemmas.

- Ben


Draigon: The reason I think that the terrorists should have been doing something violent is that right now there is no moral dilemma: you simply choose not to shoot and no one cries and no one dies and no one gets hurt. The implication being in the game world that if you leave them alone, they'll leave you alone. The problem is that the title of the peice is Sept 12th, which is obviously meant to tie it to Sept 11th. On other words, if you are taking on he role of the US, then the idea is supposed to be that you feel threatened.

Alternately, it could be that the peice was trying to reference the Israel/Palestine conflict (in terms of actual game play this seems more likely, the US hasn't realy been big on missile assasinations, - that's more an Israeli thing). In that context, then you'd want some of the terrorists to be suicide bombers so that, again, there is some imperative to act on the part of the player.

It may be that there very presence of terrorists was supposed to be enough to make you act. Maybe I'm just too far gone into the pacifism side of this debate for me to want to shoot at people for wearing the wrong clothes.

While I'm suggesting improvements, it would have been nice if people had cried over dead terrorists too. It's not like once you become a terrorist that your family stops liking you. I mean, you *aren't* a terrorist, you're a freedom fighter.

In terms of actual gameplay, I found that the best way to get a clean kill was to first create *lots* of terrorists by blowing up a crowded market or something. Then, you'd have a large crowd of terrorists and it'd be easy to kill only them and no civilians.

Once I'd worked out that strategy, I decided to go for the "bomb them all and let god sort it out" route. Unfortunately, because buildings and people seem to regenerate, that didn't go so well.

I've also gotten some clean kills by waiting for the terrorist to wander off on their own anf then striking. That normally costs buildings but doesn't cost civilians. Unless the terrorists automatically regenerate, I think that with enough patience and dumb luck you could wipe them all out.

I think that the best moment of the game was when I first started up and I was looking at my oversized targetting cursor and assuming that is was attached to a sniper rifle. Imagine my surprise when a missile killed, like, eight people. That was a good message.


The only message I seem to be getting from this game is the same message I get from real life:

It doesn't pay to stand next to a terrorist.


Snowmit, good points. I assumed because the game was an obvious play on peoples pre-existing hatred for terrorists, the need to feel provoked was not necessary. Naming it September 12 would instantly remind you of being attacked and therefore provoked. You're right about the crying for terrorists thing. That would have been good.

In terms of gameplay, the only perfect strategy I found was a slow, cheating way. I would wait for terrorists to be by the edge of the screen so that way I had a good chance of not hitting buildings or other civilians. I didn't have the patience, though, to do that so instead I just tried random things to see what response I got.

I targeted only the dogs and was suprised when it seemed the people only cried for the buildings I hit on accident. *shrugs* I guess it makes sense in the fact I would sooner become a terrorist if someone destoyed my home. If a country killed my dog I would be more confused than anything else. :)


"simulation?" "profound?" This could only be considered profound or a simulation if you're in Jr. High perhaps. It's a web editorial, nothing more and nothing less. However, I was at least motivated to start thinking about it's weaknesses, but became too bored to finish up even this message. Nice try, but it needs more substance and less bias.


On the FAQ page, they gleefully admit to being biased. Well, if you're going to make "games" that all give off a particular bias, you're not "newsgaming," you're "message gaming." I'm still a little confused why they think newsgaming is anything new (we've had games based on terrorist/nationalist scenarios for decades), and why they bothered to name it and create a mythos around it.


Have to agree with you there Joe - the only thing this game offers from many others is a different context, not necessarily fresh content....By putting it in the context of news it becomes critical or serious?
I don't know - I guess I'd have to see more games in this vein to see how effectively/consistently this could be done...


"I think that the best moment of the game was when I first started up and I was looking at my oversized targetting cursor and assuming that is was attached to a sniper rifle. Imagine my surprise when a missile killed, like, eight people. That was a good message."

Exactly! That was my experience, too. I doubt a cartoon could have had such an effect on me. The message really hit home because it was something that *I* did. *I* clicked on that terrorist. *I* killed those people.

This game is a little simplistic, certainly, but I think it shows the potential for interactive media to convey a serious message like this.


The message really hit home because it was something that *I* did. *I* clicked on that terrorist. *I* killed those people.....

and how is that different in any other videogame? Not much, I would say.
Do you feel more responsible in this particular game?

If you do, is that because of the gameplay/aesthetics or because of the context in which it is being viewed....

I guess what I'm saying here is what's different? The game itself or the fact that it is being framed as "something of significance" by both the newsgaming context and the Sept 12 title.....

Sean Riley

As a videogame, from a historical perspective, it's fascinating. The first use I can think of to use videogames to explicit political intent. It's an editorial: They're expressing an opinion, and it's a clear one.

Politically, I think their opinion is simplistic, overstates the rationality of terrorism, and ignores the flipside of their argument. But I admire the originality of their method of expression. Bravo!


Here's another one. Or rather a mention o them at Buzzcut.com

Jay Woodward

In their FAQ, they state, "We assumed that our players are intelligent enough to realize that any form of terrorism is always despicable."

Well isn't that nice. *I* assumed that they would be intelligent enough to realize that you must include the despicable acts within the simulation. If "simulated terrorists" fail to commit simulated acts of terror, then they fail to simulate terrorists.


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