Endgame:Syria Developer Turns from Civil War to Drug War with NarcoGuerra

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. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9W8LiYAR3hA

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?
NarcoGuerra Screenshot

Endgame:Syria Becomes Global Talking-Point

Our GameTheNews.net project recently released what is, the world's first game to cover an ongoing war as news.  This newly emergent form of media, 'news games' and our contribution to the form, 'Endgame:Syria', has seen a huge surge in interest and players following its rejection by Apple's App Store (though it is online and on Android).  As a result GameTheNews.net and Endgame:Syria have become global talking-points, having recently been given extensive coverage by the BBC, the Economist, The Guardian, Venture Beat, The Daily Star (Lebanon) and Al-Jazeera to name but a few.  (There is a list of articles here and more on the reaction over at the designer's personal blog.)  Below are two examples of the coverage, starting with an article on Foreign Policy:

Many people would be hard-pressed to find Syria on a map, let alone know the factions that are fighting and the outside nations that are backing them. A simple computer card game may not be deep, but when players ponder whether to play a "Saudi Support for the Rebels" or a "Rebels Assassinate Key Regime Leader" card, they are making decisions, and that is how humans learn best. Perhaps it will spur them to learn more current events, or if nothing else, they may remember a few names and places, and who is fighting who. At the least, they will learn a lot more than playing Angry Birds on an iPhone.

Wired made these key points on the discussion:

As gamers, we are generally happy to delve into historical battles such as World War II in Medal of Honor, despite the devastation, violence and death, and barely an eyelid was batted when the genre moved into modern warfare in Afghanistan and Pakistan with its latter sequels. However, delving into an ongoing conflict, where tensions are extremely high and the subject matter sensitive, is another matter entirely. .. By addressing a current civil war and its multiple factions and infinite social complexities, Endgame: Syria is not giving us any answers -- it's encouraging us to ask more questions.

Try Endgame:Syria for yourself at GameTheNews.net!

The next newsgames to be released from GameTheNews are currently in development about the War on Drugs and Climate Change, coming soon!

Endgame:Syria screenshot