With many Middle Eastern nations in the throws of democratic uprisings, the recent news that a video game based on the events of the 1979 Iranian Revolution feels timely — and yes, maybe a little exploitative of the moment.
On Russia Today, Navid Khonsari, founder of film and video game development house iNK STORIES, discussed a current project, “1979: The Game,” a game of unknown genre set against the Iranian Revolution.
A writer and director for Rockstar Games from 2001-2005, Khonsari’s partly responsible for the brooding cinematic aesthetic of Grand Theft Auto 3, Midnight Club Racing and a handful of other graphic titles. The man is no stranger to mature games and the controversy they often court.
Unlike Rockstar’s games, that take place in fictional locations and across satirical storylines, “1979” carries the baggage of reality. Real people suffered for change and many different local and global factors led to a power shift with ramifications that are still in play today. The year and the revolution, it would seem, are poor fits for a medium’s traditional “Rambo-like” protagonist narratives.
Khonsari’s solution to his complex undertaking is to allow players to inhabit many different people from unique walks of life. “We’re primarily looking at about 8 to 10 different roles,” said Khonsari to Russia Today. “Initially, you’ll start the game off as an Iranian, but American-born US State Department translator, who’s coming in with the objective of trying to free the US hostages.”
He expands later that, “It’s not a matter of bad guys going after good guys, or good guys going after bad guys. Whether they’re Iranian, American, pro-democracy, pro-theocracy. Whether they just want to make money on the side by sneaking in alcohol. Whether they want to make sure everyone wants to follow the religious rules of Islam.”
It’s a different direction from the crude satire of “GTA.” But with Rockstar proven to be an industry hit maker, is different that what people want? Is what the people want even relevant in this situation?
View the video interview below. The game sounds promising, but without a gameplay video, a screenshot, a genre or even a vague description of how it works, it is difficult to see the project as anything more than something on the mind of a talented individual. If it does get made — if it actually lives up to the pitch — that would be revolutionary.