Gaming and Islamophobia

Image: John in Buxton

At the moment, the anti-Muslim, anti-refugee sentiment across Europe is at an all-time high. With pitched battles between fascists and anti-fascists in Dover, and scaremongering on the part of David Cameron claiming that ‘the Jungle’ in Calais would move to the home counties if the UK leaves the EU, it feels like everyone is using refugees and Islam as a way to score political points.

Destructive Studios, a small game producer, has used Steam Greenlight to capitalise on this. They have put together a game called ‘IS Defense’, where you play as a “NATO machine gunner” and must launch a “heroic defence” of “the Old Continent”. The games creators claim that it is their “personal veto against what is happening the Middle East nowadays.”

At first glance, as a simple game, it isn’t that much worse than the likes of Call of Duty where you’re sent to kill ‘terrorists’ by the dozen. However, this game has much darker sentiment as it consciously and actively plays into the current anti-Islamic wave that has swept across the internet and in through the tabloids. It is clear that the producers, knowing the power of controversy, picked their topic to try to gain free publicity, playing on popular hatred and racism.

You can see it in the comments on Steam, with users such as ‘Doomandthepain’ saying “Remember Paris 11/13th you islamist shit of pig”. Others suggested that extra content be added to the game where the player should sink ships full of refugees to ensure that terrorists don’t reach “the Western world”.

Whilst many would argue that the creators have every right to make the game, I would argue otherwise; if a producer were to make a game where you play as an Iraqi soldier defending yourself from the 2003 American invasion, you’d immediately end up on anti-terror watch lists. Why should those inciting violence against Muslims through exploiting racist sentiment be safe to spout hatred without also facing consequences for their actions?

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