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January 8, 2008

September 12 and Madrid

When I first saw that the names of the games were “September 12” and “Madrid,” I had a fear that they were propagandizing “games” created in the chest-beating pride of America's “war on terror.” Thankfully, I was wrong, at least, partly wrong.

The game titled “September 12” is nothing short of chilling, and at worst condemning. It places the player in a unique situation, as it explains the rules simply as “shoot, or not.” The playing screen displays what appears to be a stereotypically Middle Eastern/Muslim-Dominated location, with people busying themselves about the town. The input of the player is simply a crosshair. Do you attack? Do you do nothing?

The emotional appeal is immense, as it is working on the presumption of being the day after the 9/11 attacks. The Marxist-Leninist, anti-war, peace-and-love hippie in me began to squeal with joy as I saw what this was. There are dogs, and there are common people walking about the town. There are also characters who appear to be wearing battle fatigues and are carrying weapons? Do you attack?

Should you chose to attack, from the ruins of the building and hidden beneath the wailing and crying of survivors, more enemies are born. They transform from their common person attire to that of the “enemy combatant.” The more you bomb, the more enemies appear, as this nameless and faceless force that feeds on resentment and ignorance - ours. Can you fight a war of ideas with bombs and bullets? Do you attack?

In the title “Madrid,” the rules are also simple - click on the candles to ensure that they burn bright. Each of the people are wearing a unique “I heart thus-and-such,” all with cities that have fallen victim to some type of terrorist attack. Tokyo, Paris, Madrid, NYC, Oklahoma (city), etc. The objective is to simply keep clicking and let the candles burn brighter. As soon as you have clicked, though, the candle begins to dim. Keeping pace with them is near impossible.

Such is intent of the creator, or potentially the response of the player, that no matter how much we try, “you have to keep trying,” as the game says, to be vigilant about the dangers of the world and to keep the victims in our hearts and minds. The United States is not the only nation to have suffered at the hands of extremists. The world cries with us, just as we cry for them. Trying to keep the candles burning bright is no different than trying to “smoke out” every terrorist in the world; a group effort is required. One person cannot do it alone.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at January 8, 2008 11:46 PM


Wow its amazing how similar our feelings were towards the two games while playing. The two games certainly were interesting, and they both were definitely emotion provoking. I thought they both also pushed for self reflection, to understand that people see things differently sometimes than we do. I enjoyed the ending to Madrid, as you said, to keep on trying no matter how much we have already tried.

Posted by: Brandon Gnesda at January 9, 2008 7:18 PM

I really enjoyed your take on the "Madrid" game because I was having trouble finding the true meaning of the gameplay. Your insight of the fight against terrorism as a group effort helped me appreciate that game at a deeper level.

Posted by: Darrell Kuntz at January 14, 2008 6:44 AM

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