Newsgame developer GameTheNews.net, today released it’s latest offering; a game about the War on Drugs in Mexico entitled NarcoGuerra. GameTheNews.net caused a huge debate following Apple’s controversial decision to reject Endgame:Syria from the App Store. This new game examines the ongoing conflict from the perspective of the Mexican authorities trying to stamp out the drug trade within their borders. In NarcoGuerra the player must attempt to retake Mexico’s regions from cartels while also dealing with corruption within the police force itself.
As part of the global War on Drugs, the conflict in Mexico escalated around 2008 and since that point the human cost has been very high, with over 80,000 people having been killed. Rawlings defends the use of this as subject matter for a game, “Better that we are talking about this topic and why it is happening, whatever the medium being used, than we turn a blind eye and pretend it is not going on. Games are part of the way we understand the world we live in and I’m really proud of the work we’ve done on this game as it engages people while expanding that global conversation.” The game’s designer, Tomas Rawlings remarked, “The War on Drugs has been going for over 40 years now and we wanted to explore why that is. In reflecting the world around us a singer might write a song, a filmmaker produces a documentary and a journalist writes an article, as games developers we express our interest via games. But just because our form of expression is through games, this doesn’t mean we take the subject any less seriously. This game aims to engage players in the issue and get them to think about why this war is still going on despite the billion spent on it.”
NarcoGuerra is now out on iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, PC and Mac for $0.99/£0.59/€0.79. This is the first newsgame that GameTheNews.net have charged for, with all their past titles having been released for free. Rawlings commented on this decision, “This game is the biggest newsgame we’ve created which has taken a lot of time, effort and expense. Charging a small amount for this title helps us cover the costs of our highly talented development team and funds us to continue creating newsgames, many of which will be free. This is a premium newsgame and I think it is right that its price reflects the efforts to create it. All news organisations have to make income to pay staff – we’re no different in that respect.”
Screenshot from NarcoGuerra
NarcoGuerra – Can you End the Unending War?
“Game the News is one of the more interesting indie game developers working at the moment: specialising in games based on topical news stories and campaigns.” Stuart Dredge, The Guardian
BRISTOL, UK MARCH 4th, 2013: The creators of Endgame:Syria have turned their development attention to the ongoing horse-meat scandal in their latest release. In ‘Cow Crusher‘ the player runs their own meat processing plant and must ensure that its output is 100% beef, in an irreverent comment on the speed and mechanisation of our food production process. Players need to hit the right button to squish the animal into the right meat product and keep the quality high; while making sure they don’t process any horses in the works. Cow Crusher is the latest game by GameTheNews.net with the development taking around 3 days to create it’s newest newsgame. GameTheNews’s design and production director Tomas Rawlings commented, “Cow Crusher is part of an ongoing experiment into how games can play a role in news and current affairs and this time we’ve opted for a more fun approach to the topic.” The game is out now to play for free online as HTML5 and for Android devices via Google Play.
GameTheNews became a global talking-point following the release of ‘Endgame:Syria’ a game covering the ongoing war. The developer says they are still “in process” with an Apple version of Endgame:Syria and also have another serious title in production themed around the War on Drugs in Mexico.
Cow Crusher by GameTheNews.net – click to play.
“As soon as I saw this game I had to get it, one; For the humor, and two; Because it actually looked like a great game with continuous playability and that’s just what it is!” n3rdabl3.co.uk
Our GameTheNews.net project looking at creating games from news an current affairs has launched with a game about the war in Syria, Endgame Syria. Here is the press release:
New Game Explores War in Syria
BRISTOL, UK DECEMBER 13th, 2012: Games have been growing in force as a medium but still tend to be seen as pure entertainment. That perception is being challenged by a new release that explores the war in Syria in an interactive form, titled ‘Endgame Syria’. Developed as part of the new project GameTheNews.net, creators Auroch Digital are using rapid-game development methods to build games quickly in response to real-world events. Created in a development time of two weeks, the game allows users to explore the options open to the rebels as they push the conflict to its endgame. Each choice the user makes has consequences – the types of military units deployed, the political paths trodden. Not only does each choice impact the current situation but they also affect the final outcome. While the game was made rapidly, the developers report that even over the two weeks of development, they still had to change elements to reflect events happening in the real-world. “We wanted the events and actions in the game to mirror the real situation,” the game’s designer Tomas Rawlings explained, “So while creating this experience, we were also continually looking at the news and adding or removing components to keep the content current.” Endgame Syria is free to download.
Some may think that the choice of a game as a medium for this subject is questionable, but Tomas is adamant this is not the case, “As game developers, games are a natural way for us to express our thoughts on the world around us. Games don’t have to be frivolous or lightweight; they can and do take on serious issues and open them up to new audiences.”
Objections to the medium might be an issue of understanding the form, Tomas continues, “If the word ‘game’ is troubling then we’re happy for this to be called a ‘simulation’ or an ‘interactive experience’. For us, the point is that we’re using this medium as a means to express and explore the uncertainties of this situation. A game allows you to re-explore the same territory and see how different choices play out and understand that those choices have far-reaching consequences.”
The developers say that if this game brings the issues of the war to an audience who might otherwise not have engaged with it, then the risk of making something controversial rather than playing it safe will have been worthwhile. The game free to download for Android via Google Play and is available to play on the GameTheNews.net website as a HTML5 game and also due out on iPhone, iPad and iPad Touch imminently. Full details can be found at http://bit.ly/endgamesyria.
The project was created using GameMaker Studio development technology. Game the News is supported by the University of Abertay Dundee’s Prototype Fund with additional help from the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol.
We also launched with an article on GamesIndustry.biz looking at games, war and news:
By making Endgame Syria I hope that we’ve encouraged some people who didn’t know much about the situation in Syria, to find out more. After all, the chances are your taxes are going into this war in one form or another. We also hope that we’ve joined the ranks of other games that have been unafraid to take on serious subjects and cover them with sensitivity. If either of these are the case, then the risk of making something controversial rather than playing it safe and making games about shooting Nazis or grumpy avians will have been worthwhile.
Endgame Syria Screenshot
Our Creative Director, Tomas has been looking at reactions to the game over on his blog. We’ve also been getting coverage of the launch online:
Endgame: Syria is a neat little game that does not deserve being shackled to a small window in the browser. The game oozes quite some quality and is actually fun to play. Players familiar with card games like Magic: The Gathering should have no problems playing this game as the rules are very much simpler here.
The subject matter for Endgame: Syria should not however be looked on from a trivialized angle; people and civilian casualties are dying everyday over in Syria. Hopefully with this unique gamification approach, it will make more people aware of what is happening today in the beleaguered country of Syria.
The iOS version of the game was rejected by Apple, which generated a lot of press interest in the project: