One of the arguments for the existence of games is that they often show you who people really even if language can’t. In a move similar to the Christmas Truce soccer games of World War I, four Western journalists decided to play a game of paintball with members of the Lebanese Muslim military and political group Hezbollah. Mitchell Prothero in VICE explains his motivation:
Our collective reasoning for the game was simple: bragging rights. Hezbollah’s military wing is widely considered the most competent group of “nonstate actors”—or, depending where you sit, “terrorists”—in the world. I’d seen pretty much all of their closest competition in action: Al-Qaeda, Hamas, the Taliban, and almost any other militant group you can name in the region. Famed for their combat prowess and careful tactical calibration, Hezbollah’s few thousand professional fighters have repeatedly taken on the toughest armies in the world (Israel, France, the United States, and even, briefly, Syria) and come out on top every time. Over the decades, they’ve grown in skill and competence to the point where, during the 2006 war with Israel, they’d done something few insurgencies have ever accomplished: morph from guerrillas into a semi-conventional force. If I could get them into a paintball game, I could witness their battlefield tactics firsthand. And if our team could beat them, we could walk around calling ourselves “the most dangerous nonstate actors on the planet.”
What ensues is a larger conversation of who these four men are and how their personalities come to life on the paintball battlefield. Read the rest of the piece here. It’s a harrowing reminder of the power that games have to shed a light on foreign cultures.