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Friday, 31 May, 2002, 21:41 GMT 22:41 UK
Syria launches Arab war game
Palestinian boys, wearing headbands reading in Arabic Al Quds Brigades, hold toy guns during an anti-Israeli demonstration in Ramallah
The new game is especially popular with young Arabs

The Middle East conflict is not limited to real life, but also extends to cyber-space.

I think they are playing this game to make some ... you know ... maybe self-salvation, I don't know

Radwan Qasmiyya
Israeli and Arab hackers have been attacking each other's web-sites.

Now, a new video game has been launched in Syria.

It allows young Arabs to play the role of a young Palestinian facing Israeli occupation during the first Palestinian uprising or intifada.


After American games like Delta Force, where the bad guys are often Arabs, and Israeli war games like Israeli Air Force, where Israeli war planes bomb Arab capitals, here comes Under Ash - the first three-dimensional Arab war video game.

It starts on a dramatic tone, with music and a message from Dar el Fikr, the Syrian publishing house that issued the game.

"It's our right to live with honour', it reads.

The hero is Ahmad, a young Palestinian, who decides to join the intifada and throws stones at Israeli soldiers.

The game is very popular among young Arabs and has already attracted Israeli criticism.

"The Arab street is very charged. They believe they can't do anything to help their brothers in Palestine," Radwan Qasmiyya, member of the programming and designing team says.

"So I think they are playing because they feel that they can feel the experience of young Palestinian people living in Jerusalem".

'No ultimate victory'

In later stages, the young Ahmad acquires light weapons, shoots Israeli settlers and lowers an Israeli flag.

He rescues wounded Palestinians shot by the Zionists, as Israelis are called in the game, and eventually he joins the fighting against the Israelis occupying South Lebanon.

But suicide bombings are out.

The game is surprisingly real. If Ahmad gets shot, he dies. There is no miracle cure.

If he shoots civilians, the game is also over.

A lot of young players have complained that the game is too difficult.

There is also no ultimate victory against the Israelis.

"Under Ash is about history. So in our modern history there is no solution for the conflicts and the game is some kind of a mirror," Mr Qasmiyya explains.

"There is no solution for Ahmad's case. At the last level of the game, there will be no major victory or reclaiming lands."

It is not surprising that the game was invented in Syria, a country that has repeatedly declared its support for the Palestinian intifada.

But the Palestinians might find little consolation in Under Ash.

Like the game, the nature of Arab support remains largely virtual.

Key stories




See also:

09 Apr 01 | New Media
03 Apr 01 | Middle East
31 May 02 | Middle East
31 May 02 | Middle East
29 May 02 | Middle East
27 May 02 | Middle East
12 Mar 02 | Middle East
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