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     Volume 4 Issue 47 | May 20, 2005 |

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Fear is the Key

Imran H. Khan

Computer games are innocent, fun and entertaining but could these simple games not spark a global war at an instance? It certainly could. Though this gaming world may be fascinating to some, others simply look on in awe and wonder what hidden thrills it has to offer to those 'some'. There is obviously no net social benefit, not much educational value, but what is that drive, that addiction that keeps a person glued to ones' screens we will never know. I happen to be hooked on to another screen, the television. As I was flickering through the sports channel two weeks back, I happened upon a certain programme called 'Gamer TV'. It features the latest games that are out in the market; something like a what's-hot-and-what's-not countdown. I was fascinated to hear the name of Bangladesh being mentioned in one of the games but my fascination was short-lived.

Sony Computer Entertainment Developer, under the electronic giant Sony, has been in the gaming industry for a long time and one of their latest game is SOCOM 3: U.S. Navy Seals. Here you would do what any Navy Seal would do, go to the point of a terrorist threat and neutralise the danger…hereby killing the enemy in many unique ways. What was interesting was that Sony had branded Bangladesh to be one of the terrorist nations, and the soldiers would go to liberate…I mean 'neutralise' the threat before it grew chronic. The soldiers would apparently be dropped over our nation and we would be the 'terrorists'. Now where have I heard that before?

Like most games of this genre, you take command of a group of Seals (nope not those loveable sea mammals) and you basically go about killing things. Kill them while swimming up from behind, being careful not to raise any alarm. Finally, you can also drive various armed Humvees, SOC-R Assault Boats and machineguns mounted on pickups and, yes you guessed it, kill some more people. Funny thing is, back here in Bangladesh, a knife has the same 'weight' as a Humvee (tactically speaking of course) because you have to be really close to your target if you want to take a good whack at it for maximum effect! Plus a knife saves fuel.

I started to wonder a little about the game. If it did come out, how would (us) the bad-guys be projected? Would we be little dark figured people, running around in sando genjis and lungis, with (probably) AK 47s and Rocket Propelled Grenades in our hands? Or rather the noble approach would be … the noble approach where the bad guys (we) would be wearing our Friday attire, complete to the top with the tupi?

Maybe we could have a butcher's knife in one hand and some blood smeared here and there. Getting gory? I'll stop.

Ok so Sony had us marked as a 'threat'. Now interestingly, the government of Bangladesh cannot have anyone (else) tarnish its name. Bangladesh Government has threatened to sue Sony if the latter did not have its name removed from the game. This statement was sent from The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dhaka, after having notified the American Chamber of Commerce and the US embassy. One item that I found to be really amusing is a comment from Akteruzzaman Manju, the president of the Internet Service Providers' Association of Bangladesh. It went: "Sony should [give an] apology as it will never be able to prove that Bangladesh is, or was, a terrorist country." The word that caught my attention was 'will never'.

The next week at Gamer TV, the latest update was that Sony had dropped our name from SOCOM 3. I cannot imagine why our country would make such a fuss about a game? Does Germany always start to beat-about-the-bush (excuse the pun) anytime America comes up with a war game with the Nazis as villains? Maybe it's our inept reaction at having the finger point at on us. We certainly do not want to be the bad guys. But I mean, I for one was looking forward to battling those insurgents say maybe in Gulshan Lake (I wonder if SOCOM 3 has bio-gear options). Nonetheless, I was a little upset to know that the facts of this piece would never materialise and it would simply blow away. I really feel that it would have made a really entertaining game and it would definitely be one game where I would love to lose over and over again.

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