Google gags Gaza's gunman gamers

Google gags Gaza's gunman gamers
Feature: A video game portraying a fighter taking on an occupying army has sparked an Israeli backlash, forcing Google to delete the game. The creators are looking at new ways to distribute.
3 min read
09 March, 2015
Gaza Man makers say that the message is not different to other action games

An online video game which features Palestinian fighters battling the Israeli army has been deleted by Google Play following pressure from Tel Aviv.

Gaza Man was released this month by a little-known software manufacturer called Bridgeview, and attempts to show the reality of life under occupation.

This includes the arbitrary arrest of children and the harassment of women by soldiers.

     Gaza Man became one of the most popular games on Google apps with over 8,000 downloads.

After an Israeli campaign targeted Gaza Man through social media, Google decided to delete the video game from its apps store.

The company says it deleted the game for inciting violence, an accusation strongly denied by Bridgeview.

Ahmed al-Darawishi, from Bridgeview's media department, said the company adheres to all international standards regarding the production of video games, and it was never the aim of the game to agitate hatred or condone violence.

Instead, the game's premise is to defend civilians from attack, and ultimately support the oppressed.

"[Google] was hasty in its decision [to pull the video game] and responded as a result of political pressure and not because of artistic violations," he says.

The game opens with a short clip showing the hero, who has been interpreted as a Hamas fighter, watching soldiers harass a child playing outside his house.

They armed men then arrest the child, and snatch him from his mother's arms. This compels Gaza Man to fight back against the army occupying his homeland.

Just like any other game

Darawishi says that the game was inspired by Israel’s assault on Gaza in the summer of 2014 - 2,200, mostly civilians, dead - and that it aims at supplanting the image in people's minds of the "Palestinian terrorist" to show the human compulsion to defend the defenceless.

Gaza Man is essentially like any other hero - he defends his homeland from outside attack and protects civilians from bombs and bullets.

Three days after its release, Gaza Man became one of the most popular games on Google apps with over 8,000 downloads. Approximately 1,000 users rated it five stars out of five.

Asid Madhi, programmer for Gaza Man, said the game's development team is currently trying to overcome the ban by marketing it through different platforms and websites.

He said that the general idea of the game is no different to other 'war games', and said Google's decision to delete the game was the result of Israeli pressure and politically motivated.

Interactive elements such as 'thrilling' music, realistic explosion sounds, and the screams of soldiers make it no different to more mainstream titles, which puts realism at the heart of the experience for the user.

One difference in Gaza Man is that the game is only completed when the character liberates his homeland, which allows for the kidnapped child to return to his family.

He says that the title, 'Gaza Man' aims at encouraging youngsters to understand that even with a lack of resources, the player can become a hero.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.