1979 Revolution is a game about the Iranian Revolution of 1978-79. It came out back in April this year and, two weeks later, the Iranian government announced its plans to ban it. Specifically, Iran’s National Foundation for Computer Games (NFCG) planned to ban any website or individuals selling the game, to block 1979 Revolution‘s homepage, and over 30 more websites that even mention it.
“Games like this can poison the minds of the youth and young adults about their country by means of false and distorted information, and also damage their spirits,” said the NFCG to the Tehran Times.
The Iranian government plans to battle 1979 Revolution further, announcing this past summer that it would be commissioning its own version of the game in order to set the record straight and communicate the “truth” of the events.
iNK Stories, the creator of 1979 Revolution, hasn’t been deterred by the Iranian government’s actions. In fact, tomorrow, on November 16th, the team is releasing the game in six new languages: German, French, Spanish, Russian, Turkish, and most importantly of all, Farsi—the majority language of Iran. Considering the game’s ban in Iran, making a Farsi version available might seem pointless, but not only is it also spoken in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, the ban in Iran doesn’t seem to have stopped Iranians playing the game.
“We’ve heard ways Iranians have been able to get around these blocks,” Andres Perez-Duarte, producer at iNK Stories told me, “using proxies and switching IP addresses to access through other countries.” This might explain why, after the ban in Iran, Ink Stories saw a spike in sales from Singapore and other parts of Asia: “can’t confirm if this is the reason but several Iranians have confirmed they commonly use Singapore’s IP addresses to access banned content remotely,” Perez-Duarte said.
Even before the ban, iNK Stories had made it a priority after the game’s initial release to make 1979 Revolution available in Farsi, so that the people its subject is closest to can experience it in their native tongue. “We’ve received overwhelming interest and support from outspoken Farsi speaking audiences who are both tremendously moved and empowered by seeing their own history and culture represented—and wish to share it with older generations who don’t speak English—giving them an opportunity to experience a somewhat taboo moment in time to explore from a perspective other than the government sanctioned,” Perez-Duarte told me.
Since its release, 1979 Revolution has caught more positive attention too, not just from critics and players, but also the UNESCO MGIEP-commissioned Paul Darvasi of York University in Toronto. Later this month, he will be presenting the game to the United Nations in view of its work towards peace education and conflict resolution, with a paper titled “Empathy, Perspective and Complicity: How Digital Games can Support Peace Education and Conflict Resolution.”
You can find out more about 1979 Revolution on its website. The game is currently available for Windows, Mac, and iOS.