Making a game about the War on Terror gives you some strange insights. One unintended example is that we have been receiving Google alerts for 'war on terror' for about 7 years now. Over that time, we've seen an interesting evolution in both the use and discussion of the term.
In general, results have moved from fear-heavy "news" reports to more reflective "opinion" pieces. Then the official ditching of the phrase by the Obama administration in 2009 was incredibly effective and the mass media - with rare exceptions - all towed the line. The torrent of alerts dried to a trickle virtually overnight. Mentions these days are either mostly from Far Eastern news sources or are being used in retrospect to label the period 2001-2009 (as if the 'war on terror' were over).
We're not sure which is scarier - fighting a made-up war on an abstract concept that no one can effectively define, or fighting a made-up war that no one can name.
In the interests of nostalgia, we thought it was high time that we marked the event ourselvesRegardless, there is a time of year when our Google alerts tumble in like the good ol' days. Each year, the first half of September is filled with (mostly regurgitated) comment pieces and 'remembrance' of the 9/11 attacks. This year, being a 10 year anniversary, has seen a particular abundance of such content. So, in the interests of nostalgia, we thought it was high time that we marked the event ourselves.
It's perhaps our distorted sense of importance regarding 9/11 that is the most defining feature of it. The cultural and political impact of those attacks and our reaction to them speaks volumes about the unquestioning, assumed authority that we placed in the United States of America to be able to do whatever it wants in the world without fear of retribution. The continuing military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the recent escalation of the war into Pakistan and the current use of force in Libya shows that those assumptions are far from fading.
So, inspired by The Other 9/11 and also this excellent article about the over-stated importance of 9/11, we set about making a calendar to mark the many historic events that deserve an annual day of reflection, but barely achieve the odd column-inch if they're lucky.
- 12 June 1898 Emilio Aguinaldo declares Philippine independence from Spain. Spain then sells the Philippines to the United States for $20 million.
- 17 April 1961 U.S. invades Cuba using recruited Cuban exiles and mercenaries in the failed 'Bay of Pigs' invasion.
- 6 August 1990 Economic sanctions imposed on Iraq, leading to the death of up to 1.2 million children. U.S. repeatedly vetoed lifting of the sanctions, despite clear evidence of their devastating effect.
- 7 December 1975 Indonesian invasion of East Timor. Start of 25 year occupation with UK and US military support in which 100,000 East Timorese are estimated to have died.
... and many more!
We hope our calendar goes a small way to redress the balance. It's a work in progress, by the way. Available in no shops anywhere soon.
Posted by TerrorBull Games on 11 September 2011 - 7 comments
Comments so far:
- The peolple of the Indonesian archipelago (much like the Philipines) were fucked over more then once. See before the East Timor thing, after WOII and the occupation by Japan, the Dutch waged a war against them because they wanted their colony back.Zellie - 11 September 2011
- Zellie - thanks for your comment, you're quite right, Indonesia has a beleaguered past. As the fourth largest country in the world, maybe that's to be expected (though of course not excused). Have you seen Pilger's excellent documentary on the East Timorese? It's called Death of a Nation in case you haven't (or for anyone else interested) and you can watch it online for free on his site (johnpilger.com)TerrorBull Games - 12 September 2011
- How can I get one?Linda from East Africa - 14 September 2011
- Hi Linda - I'm afraid you can't, just yet. It's still a work-in-progress but we have had quite a bit of interest, so you never know.TerrorBull Games - 20 September 2011
- Filipina heart spreads a rhetorical container. A dragon civilizes the throughput. Filipina heart pulses on top of your holy ambassador. The sin punctures filipina heart. A ploy waves into filipina heart. The crossroad responds outside the dog.911asian from new york - 21 September 2011
- Thanks for our most cryptic comment to date, 911asian (what drugs are you on?)TerrorBull Games - 24 September 2011
- Please, please, please manufacture this calender!- I would pre-order several dozen for me n all me people. (ps, we've had many a wicked xmas tanks to the War on Terror,the game that is, cheers!..).Victoria from Hull - 27 September 2011
Regular visitors will know that we've been working on an iPhone version of War on Terror and after 10 long months it's finally coming together. What you don't know is that we had plans to licence Jarvis Cocker's satirical masterpiece, (Cunts Are Still) Running the World, to play alongside the end-game credits. Sadly, negotiations with the label fell through because we just couldn't afford it. And rather than give up, we thought we'd try begging instead. Hello!
Now the label, Rough Trade, are actually being very reasonable and have come down from Â£1500 to Â£1200. For a track like this, for a worldwide licence, we think that's a pretty good deal; it's just way outside our budget. So what we've done is set up a campaign over on artsy fundraising site, Indiegogo. We're calling our campaign, Cash For Cunts.
Here's the thing - for us to blow Â£1200 we don't have on an experiment that might get banned from iTunes the day it's released is just foolhardy. But 600 people all donating Â£2 and it's in the bag, with no one any the worse off - that's so doable! We have 600 unique visitors a day. We can actually do this in 24 hours!
To make things a bit more appealing, as well as being able to bask in the glow of having done a truly good deed, we're offering rewards for your kind donations. If you donate Â£20 for example, you'll get a signed, limited edition "Cash for Cunts" fundraising poster by the one-and-only Tom Morgan-Jones. The more you give, the greater the reward on offer. Full details are on our indiegogo page.
Maybe though you can't afford to spare any money, or maybe you've simply decided that this cause is the most narcissistic and immature fundraiser you've ever come across. Both are fair positions to take. However, you can still help us by spreading the word. Maybe you know Jarvis? Send him our video pitch! (see below) Failing that, just clicking on the share buttons and helping us shout about it will do the trick. Most of these campaigns run for 60-80 days to achieve their goal. Unfortunately we don't have that amount of time, so if we don't achieve our target by the end of September, everyone gets refunded and we don't get a penny. And that would be a real tragedy.
So please, please, please help us realise our dream of having this song accompany our app. Apart from anything, it would be an amazing tribute to a unique artist.
Now you've sat through all that, here's the good stuff. Sit back and watch what a sweaty day's work in a hot caravan brought forth:
Read more and donate on Indiegogo: www.indiegogo.com/cash-for-cunts
Thank you, thank you. Thank you.
Posted by TerrorBull Games on 4 September 2011 - 6 comments
Comments so far:
- If you promise me you'll make an Android version of the game I'll donate! At least a fiver too. Go on, you know you want too... Pretty please?Rohan from Bristol - 5 September 2011
- Hi Rohan, we'd definitely love to make an Android version (especially as that's what I prefer) but it all depends on how our iOS experiment goes. So that's a promise of intent - good enough? :)TerrorBull Games - 9 September 2011
- i will donate copius amounts of cash if you bring this to webOS. Please please please please for the love of all that is war on terror port it to webOS!!!!jon d from ohio - 9 September 2011
- Also, i am planning on donating the 85 dollar amount anyway. Just please do not forget about those who are not apple fans. I understand it is the best place to launch your digital version of WOT, but once it skyrockets in popularity, please bring it to webOS and Android. With Love, The guy with the Double Chin on the 20 Million Dollar Bill of WOT ;)jon D from ohio - 9 September 2011
- Hey Jon! Good to see you round these parts and I totally hear what you're saying. Between you and me, I didn't even own an Apple device until I had to buy one for development purposes. It is a great platform to launch on, but after that we really hope we have enough impetus and interest to bring it to the web and also Android. Early signs are that it's a remarkably playable 15/20 minute game - and that's without multiplayer at the moment. I'm more surprised than anyone that it's actually working!TerrorBull Games - 10 September 2011
- so glad to hear! I can't imagine how you guys got a game that could last 10+ hours down to 15-20 minutes. That's crazy. Really hope war on terror mobile gets really popular so that I can see it on the webOS operating system in the future! Especially with cross platform multiplayer! Good times ahead! :-)jon d from ohio - 13 September 2011
For the past four nights, a number of cities in England have seen widespread violence, arson and looting. Journalists, commentators and the general public seem unanimous in their condemnation of what is being called senseless and mindless criminality.
But this is not the first time that antisocial criminals have taken control and ransacked the country. 2 years ago, the Labour government conspired with bank bosses to loot the entire economy and in doing so mortgaged off the future of all young people in this country. As a reward, these gangsters, whose excessive greed ran the economy into the ground in the first place, have this year received billions in bonuses.
While the "feral rats" are simply not playing by the rules when they pick on innocent people and businesses, the banks are getting away with crime on an unimaginably huge scale. While the hoodies' actions are "mindless", the bank bosses are very deliberate, knowing all-too-well what they're doing. And when supercilious disgust is poured upon the underclass for not having more respect for their environment and community, the current government are cutting public services because they've spent too much money on opportunistic wars and securing the interests of big business.
But it is wrong to suggest parallels between these two events, because they are one and the same. They are both symptoms of the same malaise. The teen hoodlum who takes what she wants from JD Sports because she can is the suit-wearing CEO who worries more about their bonus than the health of the economy. They differ only in that the latter crime is greater and conducted with full knowledge of the consequences.
Greed and opportunism lie at the heart of both actions but, more importantly, the system within which we all operate and contribute to positively endorses such behaviour. Of course, we'd rather the rioter buy their material symbols of status, not steal them. Or, at least, we'd rather they dress smartly, speak properly and know the right people before they try such a stunt. But essentially this seemingly anti-establishment bender is born ironically out of an aspiration to the status quo.
Stuff and money; it's our only measure of worth. So who, with good conscience, can solely blame those people who succumb to the temptation of grabbing as much of both as possible, when our cultural message is emphatic and unrelenting: YOU ARE WHAT YOU OWN.
When Crunch came out, we wrote:
"It's all very well going after the fat cat bankers of the world, but blaming those people for the shortcomings of capitalism is like blaming a dancing bear for the cruelty of the circus."
Similarly, blaming "parents" or "sheer criminality" or "organised gangs" for the UK riots is to show equal unwillingness to understand the underlying causes. Just as 30 years of rampant "free" markets genetically engineered today's risk-loving, profit-motivated banker, so these teenage yobs are the product not just of their environment but of their parents' environment too. And that's a product of decades of apathy towards the poor and underinvestment in the areas that need it most.
And just a reminder for any off-piste Daily Mail journalists who at this point may be choking on their own indignant froth, saying someone is a product of their environment isn't exonerating or excusing criminality - especially when people are getting hurt and killed. But it does suggest we look at the society that produces kids that smash shops up and at the system that encourages bankers to trade immorally and recklessly. These are the symptoms and our country is the sickness. All of which is as absent from the current debate as serious, critical evaluations of unchecked capitalism were from analysis of the credit crunch.
Of course, we'd rather the rioter buy their material symbols of status, not steal them What can help us come to terms with these bigger questions? Well, for starters, we need to get used to the idea of multiple, ongoing causes and effects. Until we learn to see events as a continuum, instead of isolated political soundbites, we will never have an honest or meaningful debate.
We live in a cult of immediacy, ginned up by politicians shaping news to exploit a neatly-packaged message and exacerbated by rolling 24 hour news channels and constant, mobile updates. We demand instant explanations, categorisation and rapid action. We are addicted to delineation. Nuance and grey area are the casualties of such a system and the most marketable, uncomplex ideas effortlessly rise to the top.
In this version of reality, we have no hope of tackling the really big problems such as climate change, social divides or the gross injustices inherent in our economic system. Being able to discuss these things in context requires not just a wider view, but a different philosophical outlook; one that acknowledges a greater degree of interconnectedness, that sees everything as a cause of everything.
And that's where fisting comes in ("Finally!" I hear you cry). I can think of no video that better demonstrates our incapacity to deal with continuum and the long-term view than Alan Watts talking about Time & Change. (It's ok, the fisting is safe for work). Grab yourself a cup of (herbal) tea, take 40 minutes out of your day and enjoy:
Posted by Andy S on 10 August 2011 - 6 comments
Comments so far:
- YEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSYes from YES - 11 August 2011
- People like you are what's wrong with this coutnry, not the looters. These criminals are having a laugh, killing pensioners and burning down poor families businesses for their own amusement. They're nothing but thugs. But there's always do-gooding lefties like yourself who can be relied on to jump to the defence of any dictator or criminal who doesn't fit your agenda. Meanwhile, the country (and continent) is overrun with radical Muslims who want to impose Sharia law. Where's your blog about that? Cowards!Rohan from Nottingham - 15 August 2011
- Yeah guys, can't you see all those radical Muslamic fundamentalists sitting in the Houses of Parliament imposing their Sharia laws, and standing outside the Lapland Embassy, ready to ban Christmas? Cowards!Chris Cisne from Londontown - 16 August 2011
- It concerns me not at all that for-profit, hierarchically-run businesses that exploit workers and consumers are being burned down. The bourgeoisie / middle class bears a large share of the burden for this sorry mess called capitalism. It is regrettable when innocent people (if you can find them) are hurt, but this is just "collateral damage" according to the terms of engagement established by the ruling class capitalists and its hired thugs that make up the police and military. My hope is that these so-called hoodlums will organize with the rest of the working class and oppressed and come up with a strategically organized resistance that will involve direct action beyond just violent tactics. When violence is called for, it should be focused and productive toward achieving the goal of true freedom for the Proletariat / Working Class majority of the population and all those who want to live in peace as equals. No Gods, No Masters! Workers of the World Unite!Joseph Waters from North Carolina - 16 August 2011
- @Chris are you taking the piss? the problem is, the rate we're going, we will have radical muslim fundies in parliament, because we're so obsessed with PC and equal opportunities. The tolerance that makes this country great will also be its downfall. Multiculturalism is an experiment that everyone knows has failed, but liberals like you can't face the difficult truth and admit it. (by the way I'm a liberal too; just one who's read a lot on the subject). When we designed multiculturalism, we didn't factor in a group of people so driven by hate, violence and intolerance. It won't work and someone has to have the balls to say so. Yeh I know and now you call me a racist. Fine.Rohan from Nottingham - 16 August 2011
- Rohan - how the hell did you go from looting and Zen to fundamental Islam ruining the country? Clearly our "tunnel vision filter" isn't working at the moment. Seriously, I'm not sure exactly what you're trying to say, although I recognise it's heartfelt. Are you suggesting that we're ignoring a problem that is posed by intolerant viewpoints by being ourselves of a tolerant disposition? If so, I wonder if you think that being intolerant to intolerance is any more productive? I have a feeling you're touching on an interesting topic of debate (and co-incidentally a mantra of the right - what specifically is all this reading you've been doing?) but I'm not sure how to relate it to the riots, or capitalism, or bankers or Zen philosophy.TerrorBull Games - 16 August 2011
Ah, Gaddafi, you sly dog, hiding your weapons in schools and mosques. That old trick won't work. Now we're going to have to kill innocent people in order to stop you killing innocent people.
Hey, remember when Gaddafi was the "Mad dog of the Middle East" and was the worst enemy going and nationalised BP's oil holdings, supported and gave bombs to the IRA and virtually every other terrorist organisation that came knocking at his door? Then allegedly gave the command to carry out the worst terrorist atrocity on British soil?
Remember when we forgot all those crimes about 10 years ago and it was suddenly water under the bridge when we realised we shared a common enemy in Al Qaeda? And co-incidentally we drew up massive oil and weapons trading programs with the (formerly terrorist) custodians of the 9th largest oil reserves in the world?
Remember when Blair shook Gaddafi's hand and welcomed him back into the fold with great fanfare and we "compassionately released" Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, previously convicted for the Lockerbie bombing because he had only 3 months to live (he's still alive; it's a long three months)?
Remember how that compassionate release came about just before Megrahi's final appeal that was due to bring evidence to light that cast serious aspersions on Megrahi's (or even Libya's) involvement in the crime.
And remember when Gaddafi went bad again and started killing his own people? Remember that? It was just February this year. He just went mental. Before that - between 2003 and February 2011 - he was good and killed no one for a bit, and we all enjoyed selling weapons to Good Gaddafi. We especially enjoyed selling tear gas, chemical weapons and small guns to Good Gaddafi. The French preferred providing Good Gaddafi with ammunition and military planes. But then he went rogue again, back to his old ways - after only 7 years of being good - and we had to step in and stop him. And by step in, I mean we had to invade Libya's sovereignty.
These things are all unconnected, you understand, and I list them only for reasons of nostalgic indulgence and not in any way as a slightly strained way of introducing the theme of our latest Print-and-play game: "Our Sonovabitch".
"Franklin D. Roosevelt is reported to have said of the Nicaraguan dictator, Anastasio Somoza, "He may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch". The story is apocryphal, but it tells a truth that persists today. We will support, encourage and sell arms to the worst of humanity as long as it is convenient to do so. Once the relationship sours, however, it's time to back out as quickly and quietly as possible, preferably invading in the wake to claim a righteous victory for democracy and freedom!"
Our Sonovabitch is about a fictional, dystopian future, a bleak future, void of morals and ethics, where diplomatic relations, financial and military support are offered not to the most deserving nations, but those most strategically beneficial to our immediate goals - regardless of what lunatic dictator is running that country and what that dictator does with our financial aid and our military and financial support is a total irrelevance.
In this future, you must sell arms to various countries as they start "kicking off". (Popular uprisings are great for business). But be careful! If you are called out on selling arms to politically dodgy customers, your diplomats will be shamed into retirement and your ability to do further deals reduces. Alternatively, you could just turn the tables and deflect attention onto your opponent and criticise them for the exact same dubious selling practices.
Posted by TerrorBull Games on 17 June 2011 - 5 comments
Comments so far:
- Finally! I've been waiting for your take on the Arab Awakening and you haven't disappointed. Can't wait to play this!Joss from London - 21 June 2011
- Hey guys just wanted to say we just finished an evening playing thi,s got about 10 games in, it is really, really, really good! Seriously guys, well done, this is like a proper game, I'm going to make a hard-backed, folding version tomorrow. Thanks yo u guys are AWESOME!!!!Janet from Melbourne - 2 July 2011
- Oh yeh, I FUCKIN' LUV your captcha!Janet from Melbourne - 2 July 2011
- That historical recap just made my day. :-D Also, kudos for having Israel as 7, and for the Grim Diplomats ^_^Chris Swann from Londontown - 12 July 2011
- Joss - it kind of terrifies us to think that anyone should be waiting on our commentary to something like the Arab Awakening; Janet - awesome! So glad you and your friends enjoyed it; Chris - we are happy to oblige; Israel only happens to be 7 because of its coincidental geographical location towards the centre of the board, you understand? :)TerrorBull Games - 19 July 2011
We're very bad at multi-tasking down in the bunker. Mainly because there's only one pair of scissors and Tom's always using those to cut the hard skin off his feet. What tends to happen is that we go really quiet for several months, then emerge, butterfly-like, with so many things to talk about that we confuse both ourselves and everyone else.
So in an effort to impose some kind of schedule, here's a brief preview of what you can look forward to in the coming months and also the reason(s) we've been quieter than a paedophile at the Daily Mail AGM.
GaGA - Games as Grassroots Activism is a new, radical gamers' collective that we'll be launching in a few weeks. It's for anyone involved in using games for educational, political or activist ends. That means it's for teachers, artists, publishers and journalists as much as for actual game designers. Drop us a line if you'd like to come on board. Founding members get a special star next to their name. You heard me - a special star.
New Print-and-Play Game
Inspired by the Arab awakening, in particular the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, we had our own awakening: isn't it funny how all these dictators are our best mates right up until the moment it becomes utterly impossible to support them any more and then suddenly "MUBARAK MUST GO!" and we're trumpeting on about the wonders of democracy and stressing the need for a "smooth, trouble-free transition" - which roughly translates as: "give us time to find a new pliable patsy who will happily subjugate his own peoples' most basic human rights in exchange for a few hundred thousand dollars in his Swiss bank account". Anyway, we made a game about just that. It's almost finished.
War on Terror, the application
We've dropped enough hints by now, so it's time to stop being coy. We're making an iOS app version of War on Terror. Labelled "impossible" by no fewer than three separate developers over the years, it's - not surprisingly - been a project-and-a-half so far, but we're very happy about how it's shaping up. We're about 75% done and aiming for a Summer release. Drop us a line if the thought of getting on the beta testing list means more to you than your first-born child and maybe we'll think about it.
On top of all of that, we're working on two full-release games, a load of "how to" videos and some silly side-projects. So, to dispel those rumours once and for all, our low profile isn't because we've gone blind as a result of onanastic over-indulgence. Our vision still works perfefcatlw elwl.
"Always end on a joke" - The Spirit of the Blog by Seth Godin, p.43
Posted by TerrorBull Games on 2 June 2011 - 3 comments
Comments so far:
- VERY much looking forward to all of these things. Timmy from Down the well - 14 June 2011
- you are feckin nutzyer mom from berkeley - 19 July 2011
- Hi mum. Sorry.TerrorBull Games - 19 July 2011