Flash game as a vehicle of social protest?

ATTENTION: You now have 3 minutes to Raid Gaza:


With certainty, this new little flash game provokes many thoughts and questions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I’ve played this game with my nine-year old daughter, and after several attempts, we have learned:

–> This is a senseless struggle; Israelis are winning at a rate of 25 to 1.

–> The Palestinians are firing rockets at Israeli settlements, pretty much at random, depicting the Arabs as crazed, senseless terrorists who are acting without reason, without “aim.”

–> The screen layout with Gaza cramped against the shore and Israel with the wide open spaces and pastoral fields emphasises the basis of the original conflict – fighting for ownership of historically sacred land.

–> The Israelis have access to a huge arsenal of high-tech weaponry as the US is an endless source of $$$ for Israel – why bother sending in any troops who might get killed and count against your score when you can just constantly bomb Gaza with missiles on the US dime?

–> The insanity of using violent military action to solve conflict – you are given bonus points if your rocket destroys a hospital which emphasizes the sick, unconscionable reality of the real-life situation. For example, yesterday an Israeli rocket hit a Gaza school killing 40 people, and my understanding is that the school was targeted because the Hamas were launching rockets from the school.

In my opinion, the unpalatable horrors of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are strikingly communicated in this game in a very real way. The game play uses very dark humor: the winning strategy is to thoughtlessly build/spend, get aid and kill as fast as you can (meanwhile the background music plays a ‘classy bar loop’). Although over-simplified, biased and disturbing, Raid Gaza! is definitely successful at raising awareness and sending out a sharp and concise message (there are already 394 reviews and the game was just released one week ago). I think that adding political commentary to a flash game should happen more often as people not interested in war politics will be enticed to participate in the discussion. Browsing through the comments, I find a mixture of political commentary and lively debate, simple reviews of the game and the typical kinds of inanities that one might expect on a website that is likely to experience high traffic from teenage males (who like saying things just to get a rise out of others).

I think this game is targeted to reach out to an audience who would not normally discuss or pay attention to the details of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict. Although insensitive and one-sided, I wonder if people would be as likely to forward Raid Gaza! to their friends to play if the game was less disturbing? If you feel uncomfortable with the virtual game violence that is based upon actual conflict, perhaps that is the point?

What message do you think this game is trying to communicate? What might improve the game and it’s delivery? How might this game be use as a point of entry to encourage a deeper understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian political issues? Can this game be responsibly used in a classroom educational setting to learn about conflict/resolution?

FYI: a brief interview with the Raid Gaza! game creator:

Save Israel is another simple flash game that, unlike Raid Gaza, clearly takes the Israeli side: http://www.kongregate.com/games/amihanya/save-israel. You can save Israel by first alerting the city (click on it) and then blow up the impending rocket (click on it).

Peace, hope and healing for the Israelis & Palestinians…. PJ

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