November 27, 2013
Iran Revolution Setting For Potential Video Game
World War II has long been a popular setting for video games, but now independent game development studio INK Stories is looking to a far more recent (and arguably more controversial) historical event. 1979 Revolution, which is being developed for the PC and Mac, as well as Android and iOS devices, is an action/adventure game set in the “gritty true events of 1979 Iran.”
The game is currently being developed via a Kickstarter crowd funding campaign, and is based on actual events that reshaped the modern Middle East. As such, it features a deep narrative experience and has already been compared to the Grand Theft Auto series, Max Payne and Homefront titles.
The game, if and when it is ever finished, will feature elements of exploration, stealth, decision making and include mini-games and items to collection. Visually, 1979 Revolution has the look of a graphic novel, along with recordings and footage from the actual events. Storywise it is told via Reza, a young photojournalist who happens to be in Tehran during the tumultuous days of the revolution.
Reza apparently is impassioned by the idea of change and enlists in the movement to overthrow the monarchy! Pro-Shah this one is not, apparently. However, idealists take notice, the game’s plot twists also involve Reza’s understanding that the new regime isn’t all it’s cracked up to be either.
Thus it is neither pro-US nor pro-Iran in its depiction of the revolution.
The game is being developed by Navid Khonsair, who had helped create and craft the cinematic look and feel for games such as Grand Theft Auto III and The Warriors.
It is also quite personal to Khonsair, who wrote on the Kickstarter site for 1979 Revolution:
“The Iranian Revolution of 1979 is a defining story for me. When I was 10 years old my grandfather took me by the hand and brought me to the streets in Tehran so I could witness what was happening in our country. In 1980, my family left Iran for good. Since then I grew up in Canada, later to move to my hometown of New York City. Today, Iranian newspapers have wrongfully called me a spy for the US government because I am making this game. This accusation means that I can no longer return to Iran to see family or expose my children to the rich and beautiful culture that has made me who I am.”
While controversy is common with video games and pretty much has been since the days of Death Race in 1976, what is unique about this one is that it is touching on such a highly controversial event as well. The long U.S.-backed Shah of Iran was deposed, 52 American hostages for held for 444 days and it likely was the event that cost President Jimmy Carter his slim chance at re-election.
To date there has been no video game depicting this event, so 1979 Revolution is certainly a trailblazing game in that regard. It isn’t clear how the current Iranian government might view this one either, but it can’t be denied that Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of the actual 1979 revolution in Iran, did call for a fatwa against British author Salman Rushdie for his novel The Satanic Verses.
Then of course there is the video game Contra, which made its debut in 1987, just months after the Iran-Contra affair was made public. While developer Konami has never actually said that the game was named after the Nicaraguan rebels, the original game did have an ending level that was called “Sandinista” – the ruling Communist-backed government in the Central American country. And to go off on a tangent, “Sandinista!” was the title of the fourth studio album by the UK punk rock band The Clash. Now that caused a whole lot of controversy as well.
Image Credit: INK Stories