Video games hit too close to home in Armenia, Bosnia

Aug 29, 2012
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For many video-game players, the European wars of the 1990s may seem like ancient history. One new game, however, is aimed at players well aware that fighting continues in real life, and others are set in ethnically riven Bosnia, in what may be the latest trend in the gaming industry.

EurasiaNet.org reports on a new first-person shooter game developed by 19-year-old Farid Hagverdiev and his classmates at the State Oil Academy in Baku. In Isgal Altında: Susa (Under Occupation: Shusha), the goal is to recapture the city of Shusha from the Armenian forces that have occupied Nagorno-Karabakh since the two countries warred over the Azerbaijani territory 20 years ago.

Azerbaijani and Armenian-backed forces continue to engage each other on the front lines of a conflict that Baku insists can end only when Armenia and the international community recognize Azerbaijan’s sovereign right to the territory. Indicating official sanction for the game, Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Youth and Sports organized its launch party earlier this summer at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Baku, EurasiaNet.org writes.

Under Occupation: Shusha is a fairly low-tech affair, but two big-budget games are promising the latest in realistic combat effects in their upcoming editions, each of which features a segment set in Sarajevo during the three-year siege of the city by Serb forces, in which an estimated 10,000 civilians died.

One of the games, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 from the Polish company City Interactive, “rewrites history” and paints a false picture of the siege, says an artist based in Sarajevo, Adela Jusic.

“The main character is an American who saves the city. This is a complete paradox, because while we waited to be rescued in Sarajevo, the Americans were silent. Now, all of a sudden, they are depicted as saviors, and children that play this game will have an entirely false image of this time,” Jusic told Balkan Insight.

Photos of the gutted Holiday Inn became icons of the Sarajevo siege. In this promotional image from the makers of “Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2,” a sniper looks out at the hotel. Source: www.sniperghostwarrior.com

As part of the international peacekeeping mission to Bosnia, the first U.S. troops arrived in Sarajevo shortly after the Dayton peace accords were signed in November 1995.

The game’s release has been delayed several times and is now set for 2013.

A similar plot line runs through another popular game set for release in October. The American hero of Medal of Honor Warfighter battles villains in the Philippines and Somalia, as well as Sarajevo.


About the Author

Transitions Online

Transitions Online (www.tol.org) is an Internet magazine that covers political, social, cultural, and economic issues in the former communist countries of Europe and Central Asia. The magazine has a strong network of local contributors, who provide valuable insight into events in the region’s 29 countries.
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