In an attempt to counter the U.S. cultural war against Iran, an Iranian student group launched a computer game that sends a strong political message which combines the international standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program with the detention of Iranian diplomats in war-torn Iraq.
The "Rescue the Nuke Scientist" video game, designed by the Union of Students Islamic Association, simulates an attempt to rescue two Iranian nuclear scientists kidnapped by the U.S. military, detained in Iraq then moved to Israel. "It is an entirely Iranian product in response to the U.S. cyber war against Iran,” said Ali Reza Masaeli, leader of the student group, adding that it took three years for his technical team to produce the game.
The eight-level game starts in Iraq, where a husband-and-wife team of nuclear experts, named Saeed and Maryam, are captured by U.S. occupation forces during a pilgrimage to the Shia holy shrine in Karbala, in central Iraq. Game players then take on the role of Iranian security forces carrying out a mission dubbed “The Special Operation”, which involves penetrating fortified locations to release the nuclear scientists, who are transferred from Iraq to Israel. To complete the game successfully, players must enter Israel, kill U.S. and Israeli troops, seize their laptops which contain secret information and finally liberate the scientists.
Iran's red, white and green flag flutters in the top right corner throughout the game.
The game’s creators said it’s a response to a U.S.-based company's "Assault on Iran" game, which simulates U.S. Special Forces destroying the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in central Iran.
“In this game we are not promoting terrorism and violence. By freeing Iranian hostages we are promoting selflessness, devotion and defence of our country,” said Mohammad Taqi Fakhrian, a leader of the student group that designed the Iranian game.
"This is our defense against the enemy's cultural onslaught," he added.
Fakhrian said the student group is trying to market the video game first in Iran and other Muslim countries, adding that they also plan to introduce the game to Western countries.
The Iranian video game comes at a critical time as Iran and the U.S. are locked in a standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program, which Washington alleges is a cover for building atomic weapons despite Iran’s insistence that its nuclear projects are strictly peaceful. Tensions have also escalated between the two countries over the detention of five Iranians in Iraq. The Americans allegedly accuse the five of arming Iraqi fighters, but Iran insists that they are merely diplomats.
In both standoffs, politicians, not virtual soldiers, are the key players. But fears of a U.S. attack against Iran grow with Washington’s refusal to rule out the use of force against Tehran as well as its increased military presence in the Persian Gulf. Under such fragile circumstances, one must wonder whether the virtual soldiers of “Rescue the Nuke Scientist" and “Assault on Iran” would engage in a real fight or stay in their games!