September 12th: A Toy World
Conveys a timeless maxim: violence begets more violence.
The New York Times described September 12th as “An Op-Ed composed not of words but of actions”. This newsgame became a viral hit by exposing the futility of the US-led War on Terror. Created by a team of Uruguayan game developers lead by a former CNN journalist, this was the first game of the series that coined the term newsgame.
The project’s main idea was to use the language of videogames to describe current events while conveying a timeless maxim: violence begets more violence. The player controls what seems to be a sniper rifle target but, when clicked, launches missiles. The bombs not only kill the terrorists but also generate so-called “collateral damage”. When civilians mourn the innocent dead they soon turn into terrorists. After a couple of minutes, this Middle-Eastern village is destroyed and crawling with terrorists. The player soon realizes that there is no way to win the game through shooting.
The game’s main goal was not to convince people that the War on Terror was wrong. Instead, it aimed at triggering discussion among young players. Indeed, that’s what happened in multiple online forums. The game was highly controversial when it launched, generating threats and mild or negative reviews. As the War on Terror went sour, its popularity grew exponentially. Today, September 12th has been exhibited in museums and galleries all over the world and has been used by teachers as a tool for discussing terrorism.
Gonzalo Frasca, [email protected]