In 1979, during the Iranian Revolution, Navid Khonsari was ten, walking through the streets in Tehran, holding his grandfather’s guiding hand. Soon after, he relocated with his family to Canada. Earlier today, on Kickstarter, he launched a campaign for a game about that tumultuous period of his life, although his work on the project has had him branded as a spy in his homeland.
Called 1979 Revolution, the episodic game is a personal, historical account of the violent revolution which ousted the shah and sent Iran down its current political path. Since his days as a youth in Iran, Khonsari has become a veteran of the game industry. He’s crafted narrative experiences for blockbusters, like games in the Grand Theft Auto series. His new game looks to capture some of the brashness of those games. But it’s more serious in tone, featuring moral choices while being frisked by police, snapping photos of soldiers, and resuscitating injured protestors.
We’ve seen documentary games before, even about Iran, but 1979 is a heartfelt recollection of those subversive events. Although it’s uncertain how closely the game sticks to the facts, we shouldn’t expect it to be totally impartial. We should expect for it to be impassioned. This is Khonsari’s defining story, after all.