Virtual war zones and the failure of the military shooter

In October 2008, chaos gripped Mumbai for four days as a series of coordinated bombings and shootings killed 164 people and injured hundreds more. All 10 attackers were highly trained and linked to a command center in Pakistan via VOIP technology. The command center, using TV and social media feeds as intelligence sources, gave the attackers a sixth sense in predicting security force’s movements and reactions. It was a grim portent of where we find ourselves in 2016—a place where the deliberate disruption and destruction of public spaces and networks is the latest tactic in modern warfare, a place videogames…


Negotiator, a game about dealing with terrorism and online harassment

If you’ve watched enough movies or TV you would have seen a hostage situation. And almost every hostage situation involves a negotiator. Someone who is there to try and defuse the situation, hopefully with words instead of bullets. Negotiator from 4PM Games is going to let you step into the shoes of one of those hostage negotiators. And it won’t be easy. One mistake and you could be the cause of someone losing their life. “I have always wanted to recreate the feeling of static tension, present in hostage situations,” explained Bojan Brbora, founder of 4PM Games and creator of…


FPS has something to say about videogames and guns. But what?

Hugo Arcier’s FPS is about last year’s attacks in Paris, though it is not immediately clear in precisely what way. We know this because the artist says as much on his website: “FPS is a post November 2015 Paris attacks art piece. The artist deals with blindness hijacking video game codes, in particular of first person shooter game. The only visible elements are pyrotechnic effects, gunshots, muzzles flashes, sparks, impacts, smokes.” In practice, what that means is that a black space is lit up by flares from something vaguely resembling a videogame gun. They linger in the air, like lasers at…

Don't Be A Puppet

How to Spot a Terrorist: the videogame

Don’t be a puppet. That’s the FBI’s new mantra in response to terrorists and their would-be recruits. And in light of the growing problem of terrorists trying to recruit vulnerable teenagers over the internet, the FBI has created an interactive website, adorned with a flailing wooden puppet on strings, to teach teens how to spot terrorist recruiters and better protect themselves from their brainwashing and manipulation. The message is of course commendable, and there is nothing wrong with telling teens to speak their minds and use their intelligence. To ignore the potential dangers of the internet, in light of lurking…


The Division doesn’t want you to think about 9/11

When I entered Ubisoft’s The Division press event on February 2nd in New York, I was greeted by a display of an NYPD patrol car that had crashed into a lightpost, with smoke bellowing from its engine and its lights still flashing. Machines in the rafters vigorously blanketed the room in snow. Caution tape separated visitors from the staff-only areas. A street marker for Madison Avenue with a “Closed” sign attached to it overlooked the game’s demo stations. A Do Not Enter sign sat in the distance. I had entered a New York that felt like it had been thrown into…

11 Executions

Artist uses GTA V to investigate the motivation behind modern terrorism

There is no logic to it, but it happens with enough regularity to be memorable: A tragedy occurs, and days later, journalists report that if it wasn’t for a quirk of fate it might have taken another victim. To wit, Dutch cyclist Maarten de Jong switched flights from Malaysian Airlines flights MH370 and MH17 at the last minute. The former flight is still unaccounted for and its passengers presumed dead while the latter was shot down over Ukraine. There is no genius in finding a cheaper flight or one with a shorter layover, as De Jong did. Nevertheless, he lived…


The Dismal Western Front of The Grizzled

The First World War is often referred to as The Great War, due to its immense scope, as it incited all the world’s national powers and resulted in a devastating death toll. Set within this war is the tabletop game The Grizzled, which makes no attempt to capture such scale, and instead hones in on a small squad of French soldiers whose camaraderie is their greatest chance for survival. In this, The Grizzled prompts comparison to Erich Maria Remarque’s 1929 novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, which describes the war through a concise and emotional narrative. The story follows…