Escapee Button: Rendition: Guantanamo

By Kieron Gillen on May 26th, 2009 at 11:41 pm.

I was going to go for a Cell-Shady strapline, but it's prejudicial, innit?

Game Politics picked up on this, and you should go over there to read more, but the forthcoming PC game Rendition: Guantanamo is using ex-actual-detainee Moazzam Begg as a consultant. Using consultants in games with a realistic setting is, of course, nothing new, but this is certainly something very intriguing. I’ll be following it carefully. Until more details emerge, here’s the trailer from earlier in the year…

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  1. Dick Nickerson says:

    I can this being popular with the “Down with pig disgusting Amerikkka!” crowd.

  2. indirectx says:

    I bet they spliced your DNA with that of Bill O’Reilly. Those damned guantanamo scientists!

  3. Unlucky Irish says:

    This seems somehow irresponsible, I mean you would release a game were you had to build and manage a “Gitmo”-esque camp. Can’t wait for the sequel where you have to launch a suicide mission in a crowed Kabul market.

  4. Adventurous Putty says:

    This is rather idiotic. Seriously — “behind enemy lines,” “sent to Guantanamo for evil experiments,” “now a lab rat”? What is this, the US military suddenly has mad scientists on the dole?

    And here I was hoping for a game that would subtly take on a hot political issue with morally gray storytelling. >.>

    Also: um, how is it possible that they have such an inane plot, but are consulting an “ex-prisoner?”

    EDIT: OK, yes, I understand it’s MERCENARIES who are apparently doing these evil lab experiments, and the camp is supposed to be closed, and blah blah blah — but, really, none of that changes the fact that the story seems to be completely missing the point.

  5. Heliocentric says:

    So, is this going to be Postal-Gitmo?

  6. TwistyMcNoggins says:

    WORLD’S FIRST REAL-TIME SIT-DOWN SIMULATOR

    Incredible real time sit-down physics!

  7. A-Scale says:

    That looks like a pile of shit. Any meaning their choice of Gitmo as a location for a game would have had is negated by the fact that they turn it into a RTCW-esque scene with echoes of Mengele. And to think that I hoped for a serious game that asked the player to take the place of the torturer and commit the acts of torture on prisoners that our interrogators have committed, in full graphic detail. It could involve a system based around information getting versus how reliable the information was, along with a flow of information about possible imminent threats from the intelligence services. You would be pushed to torture to get information to save lives, but with the knowledge that with each violent act the information received has a higher chance of being lies. This combined with the inherent human aversion to torture would make it quite a heart wrenching experience. It would not be a very popular game or a very exciting one, but it would serve as a true experiment in games evoking emotions, and would set the same standard that Crysis set in graphics for emotions. People who really wanted to test their own emotional fortitude or morals would pick up the title, and it would be the talk of the town for months or years.

  8. Gap Gen says:

    Does Civ count as a sleep-deprivation simulator?

    But yeah, not sure what their point is with this.

  9. Rei Onryou says:

    The eyes…THE EYES!!!

  10. Cleent says:

    So the guys that made the brilliant Close Combat games can’t make something similar in modern times because it’s based on the battle of Fallujah, but this gets the green light?

    Also, is this made in the style of those flash-based room escape puzzler thingys?

  11. Serondal says:

    Civ counts only your the test subject and no one is monitoring the results ;) It is also a test to see how long it takes the average person to break an addication that causes persons harm, such as calling into work because you accidently stayed up to 6:00 AM playing Civ and have to go to work at 8:00 and no if you do go to work you will be rubbish and probably get fired.

    ANY HOW! This seems like a horrible idea regardless of whatever stupid story they come up with. seems like they’d be better off creating a fictional prison camp and used the guy in question to give a good idea what a high securtiy prison camp would be like.

    BTW there is already at least one flash game where you run into a crowd and blow yourself up so sorry Unlucky Irish it’s already been done ;( Goes right up there with the game that simulates killing Kennedy.

    Here is an interesting idea, a sim of shutting down Gitmo with no money and the president randomly changes his mind and the judges keep telling you not to close it but you have a dead line . It’s like having your mother tell you one thing and your father telling you the exact oppiste and they’re both yelling at you to do what they say but you cant’ decide who to listen to.

  12. Persus-9 says:

    Well that looks and sounds absolutely terrible. I’ve never seen a worse trailer in my entire life. Seriously, I’m actually shocked at how bad that is.

    The only thing that could make this game worth while and not just an extremely sick cash-in would be for it to make some serious commentery but no, they’ve decided the pussyfoot arround the actual subject and go with the whole they’re evil mercenaries who imprisioned you for mad science! Then in case the writers felt they were risking it not being corny enough they’ve added in a ‘they’ve got your son!’ twist.

    Then to demo it they rendered a single cell with a single stationary man in an engine that looks roughly on a par with GTA III.

    I can’t see one redeeming feature to this game based on that teaser and the Game Politics article.

    A real-time sit-down simulator actually sounds a lot more fun.

    @ A-Scale: Except for quite a lot of people there simply isn’t a moral dilemma there. It’s quite simply never the right desicion to torture people for information. Better that the attacks should succeed and your own people die then you give up the very principles of freedom and justice you’ve been told you’re fighting for.

  13. apnea says:

    @A-Scale

    Or maybe you can play the poor CIA contractors being forced by senior Bush administration officials to use torture on already cooperative detainees in order to coax false confessions about an elusive link between ultra-baddies Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda:
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-05-13/cheneys-role-deepens/

    That would be very realistic and emotionally compelling, wouldn’t it? Even less popular than your version, though. Not clinging to self-serving whitewashing accounts of war crimes will do that. A bit light on the ‘ticking time bomb’ side, eh?

    Regarding this game, I’d say in bad taste, but one of the victims is apparently supporting the effort. I guess we’ll see.

  14. skizelo says:

    This looks to be shaping up in very poor taste. You shouldn’t use such close analogues to real political events for a pulpish tale of a super-hero looking for his son (presumably using violence along the way), especially when you so liberally mix fact with lurid fancy (I’m thinking of the Mengele like human-experimentation).

  15. Citizen Parker says:

    Illegal science experiments? The horrors of Guantanamo aren’t enough?

    Or does that serve as a premise for some poorly thought out sci-if elements? I hope not. Something like this handled intelligently could be quite interesting.

  16. Jonathan says:

    I think we have been goofed upon. Come on, there’s absolutely nothing in that trailer. A dude squatting on a bench shot from ten angles, interrupted by cheap script written by failed comic book writers. If this even exists it will hilariously awful.

  17. DigitalSignalX says:

    If only we could only figure a plot device to get it to star Violette Szabo and the infantry who were in Falujah for six days, it might be controversial crap instead of just crap.

  18. theleif says:

    Looks like a typical Tom Clancy game. But from the other side.

  19. Bhazor says:

    Wow, never before has my opinion changed so much in the course of a trailer. I didn’t even have time to vocalize my thoughts before they changed “Oh my, this could be a savage uncompro- oh for fucks sak- wait Americans hold 4 year old children as terror suspec- eek! I’m afraid of scary eyes!”. Booo!

    Also, has Six days in Falujah been canned? Because I read a piece about it in GamesTM this month saying it was still in production albeit without a publisher and not very good.

  20. Post Maker says:

    it is time to escape

    it is time to rescue your son

    If the game is able to hold true to the promise of this trailer, Rendition: Guantanamo might very well turn out to be the most hilarious game ever made.

    EDIT: I forgot to mention how much I love those boogedy-boo eyes at the end. Are those red pupils?

  21. A-Scale says:

    Except for quite a lot of people there simply isn’t a moral dilemma there. It’s quite simply never the right desicion to torture people for information. Better that the attacks should succeed and your own people die then you give up the very principles of freedom and justice you’ve been told you’re fighting for.

    I’d argue the same, but if the game presented the consequences of that choice in vivid detail it might challenge that belief. I got into a large argument with a friend the other day over torture and came to the conclusion that it is wrong because it takes too many chances: one might be torturing an innocent person or someone who knows nothing, or one might be getting false information. The only place where my friend was able to get me to drop my stance was regarding people who are certain terrorists, such as Osama himself. There is no questioning his guilt, and he would probably know something. I’d like to have a 100% stance against torture, but in that specific case I don’t think I could defend such an argument.

    That would be very realistic and emotionally compelling, wouldn’t it? Even less popular than your version, though. Not clinging to self-serving whitewashing accounts of war crimes will do that. A bit light on the ‘ticking time bomb’ side, eh?

    It seems that you’ve painted me as the enemy. I’m simply suggesting a simulation that would cause one to question one’s beliefs. Secondly, I don’t doubt that there were interrogators who believed that torturing suspects was the right (or at lest OK) thing to do. Lastly, I don’t think “The Daily Beast” blog is a very reputable source.

  22. Bhazor says:

    Reply to A-scale
    “but if the game presented the consequences of that choice in vivid detail it might challenge that belief.”
    Hmmm, you’d have to waterboard me before I’d put a £1 bet on it managing that.

  23. suibhne says:

    This is pretty much off the hook, and I’m surprised that Moazzam Begg would have been associated with it; he’s consistently been a reputable and very effective voice against the detention and torture that he endured. My guess is that he didn’t know exactly how his information would be used, and provided his perspective with too much credulity in an effort to continue spreading his message. Oh well.

  24. J. Edgar Hoover says:

    There are two things that were immediately brought to mind after watching that trailer. You play a detainee in a prison built for criminals. It would seem as if the game was explaining that you would be escaping from prison, and more importantly, that it was trying to inspire you to do so. What will this do the general prison population in America that sees this video? “Oh, well officer, this video game told me to break free to see my son! It said no matter what I had to do, to do everything in my power to escape!”

    And secondly, I sincerely hope there are some torture mini-games.

    And don’t get all self-righteous on me by spurting how awful I am for saying this. Like you don’t enjoy running over hookers at 80 mph in a stolen cop car as in GTA4.

  25. Heliocentric says:

    I do love me some dead hooker. Fine, but when the first prison riot is blamed on this game we will act to our loved ones like we were against the game, deal? The collectors edition should come with a water boarding kit to use on your friends and family. Water boarding isn’t torture, it only feels like you are dying.

  26. Pace says:

    To me mixing fact and fiction is a bad idea, especially on hot button topics where people have a hard time being rational to start with. Put all this crap in a videogame? Fuck, that’s just tacky. I fail to see the point, except to generate sales via controversy. I mean, if they’ve got something to say, say it, don’t make up a ‘near future’ fictional storyline and muddle it with reality.

  27. ZIGS says:

    I like the “Requiem For A Dream”-esque epic theme. The game’s gonna blow though

  28. bhlaab says:

    It’s not the Requiem for a Dream music, I swear! There’s, like, a whole new note in it!

  29. maykael says:

    @A-Scale

    The argument might work in Osama’s case too. Why wouldn’t he lie under torture. One might that someone commited so wholeheartedly to his cause might do anything to protect it so he would probably most likely lie under torture or let himself be killed. I’d actually go further and say torture would most likely work on low underlings of terrorists that aren’t that important so that they see themselves as expandable. For this reason they would probably do anything to keep themselves alive and they would give true information, but even this has a low chance of happening because terrorists are usually willing to do anything for their cause. That’s why torture might not be the best way, nor a good one for that matter, not to mention that fact that it’s actually inhumane ( :) ).

  30. MC says:

    I don’t think anyone should take the information obtained by torture as gospel fact and I doubt anyone really does; anything a prisoner says, whether they were tortured or not, could be true or could be bullshit. Anything they say is always only a possible lead that needs corroboration.

    @ A-Scale: that seems to be exactly how the US uses its torture techniques; only very rarely on people with a long history of being a high ranking terrorist, like KSM. Waterboarding has apparently only been used on three people.

  31. Max says:

    That was… underwhelming.

  32. RealHorrorshow says:

    1997 graphics – Check
    Cheap rip-off of the Requiem for a Dream theme – Check
    Nonsensical story involving mercenaries and science experiments – Check
    Fear of actually showing gameplay in the trailer – Check
    Shameless cash-in on current controversial issues – Check

    Yeah this game is going to be classic.

  33. James T says:

    Huh, they redid Milgram, didn’t know that.

    What is the point of getting an ex-detainee to ‘advise’ on a game which has nothing to do with his situation? So he can describe the prison layout? It’s difficult to express what a copout the premise of this game is, but, uh… yeah, what A-Scale said. Hell, this isn’t exactly going to sell like gangbusters in any case, they may as well have put some brutal honesty in there… it’d get ‘em a lot more press too, ha.

  34. Clockwork Harlequin says:

    Am I being naive if I doubt the existence of this game? It just looks too tasteless (and bad) to be real. A late April Fool? I mean, who would make a game that is designed to piss off “patriots” AND “filthy liberals”? Who do they imagine their audience will be?

  35. James T says:

    It’s the wonders of compromise!

    “I want to make a game that graphically expresses exactly what’s wrong with illegal rendition! I’ve even got a guy who was at Gitmo to help!”
    “Okay, but no specifics, that’ll piss off the mad nationalists. Gamers are mostly mad nationalists.”
    “Okay, well, I guess I could still use Guantanamo… it’ll just have to be about… a made-up government, maybe, sort of allegorical…”
    “Ooo… can we lay off the whole ‘government’ thing? The nationalists love authority…”
    “But they’re always talking about ‘small government’! The American ones, anyway…”
    “Yeah, well, they talk about a lotta things.”
    “True… Okay, well… I guess if we make them… like… mercenaries? And… it could be about… like… modern slavery?… That’s, uh… that’s like illegal rendition…”
    “Yeah, but look, I’m thinking this whole kidnapped, slavery thing is kinda dull, we’re gonna need something with some EXCITEMENT if we’re gonna compensate for these 3D assets I swiped back in 2000… I was thinking: KIDNAPPED FOR MEDICAL EXPERIMENTATION.”
    “…Well… I guess that’s… illegal, at least…”
    “YEAH!”

  36. Muzman says:

    C’mon. This is the sequel to that game made by The Onion, surely.
    It looks like it was made in a warez copy of Poser 5.

  37. Jeremy says:

    Wow, from interested to wtf in 3 seconds flat.

    I’d like to second the suggestion for a game where you play the torturer. You get a flood of information and then have to decide which is true and which isn’t. Sometimes you kill the guy and then find out he was just a taxi driver who got handed in by a neighbor he argued with.

    It could be done well with pretty basic stuff, more like a text-based adventure. We don’t REALLY need 3d graphics of torture. There would probably be some people out there who like it too much as well…

  38. cullnean says:

    this is what happens when you get turned down for the license for prison break

  39. PC Monster says:

    Truly truly repulsive. I can’t think of a better way to insult anyone who has been incarcerated in one of these camps than by turning their horrific experience into a cheap action thriller. “It’s time to escape”? Seriously?

    I hope this drek never sees the light of day, not even through a tiny barred window.

  40. marxeil says:

    Anyone who wants to torture polygons install this.
    Just pretend its called Guantanamo.

  41. Bhazor says:

    Well everything thats made is some form of propoganda. Even if it’s just that the colour mauve is frickin’ rad and better than any other colour to paint a bedroom.
    COD4 condoned torture as interagation, does not have a single trust worthy middle easterner, that bad men have nukes so we should too and that when a city gets nuked the civilian population isn’t worth a comment but the death of a couple hundred marines is.

    This just happens to be too blatant, compromised, tasteless, insulting and vaguely insane. The graphics are terrible too.

  42. Walter says:

    @Bhazor: One Death is a Tragedy; a Thousand is a Statistic. It’s that way in real life why wouldn’t it be so in a game? And anyone who says the graphics in COD4 are terrible is just a “hater.”

    Anway I don’t see why waterboarding is being focused on so much, worse forms of torture were used. Electrocuting, slamming heads into walls and playing the theme song from Barney at full volume for hours.

  43. Helm says:

    This has to be a joke. If not I am excited at how hilariously bad it’s going to be and dismayed at the same time at how much it will damage the credibility of the medium.

  44. Bhazor says:

    Reply to Walter

    Er the last bit applies to the computer filch in the article. Should have been clearer about that. Sorry. Captain Price is the finest moustache in videogaming and still looks pretty good for his age.

    Also my problem with the sanction of torture is the old “give them an inch” argument. In Vietnam American soldiers were sanctioned to slap suspected vietcong sympathising peasents to gather intel. When this was done and the peasent remained quiet then some marines saw this as evasive and started to beat rather than slap. When these peasents remained shtum the soldiers would take more imaginative methods. Such as the Bell Telephone Hour (pg 174 in the sample pages) http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=L8QLvrX-iL0C which to quote one soldier is “You take a field telephone, wire it up around a man’s testicles, you ring him up and he always answers.”

    The tortures that we’re told about are only the ones listed in the government booklets. Not the clever improvisation. But really five years imprisonment without trial or legal representation breaks a good number of UN and American laws all on its todd. The rest is just the shit custard on the horrible roly poly of injustice.

  45. panik says:

    allan acbar, the prisoner, the man, the FATHER

  46. boatorious says:

    While escaping, he sees Mickey Mouse murdered by Jews.

  47. dhex says:

    this concept has a lot of promise…on paper.

    but it seems more like another good example why games should stay away from direct commentary. they’re not built for it, and neither is the audience. at best you get mealy-mouthed farce; at worst, tom clancy.

  48. Walsh says:

    Bhazor,

    If it’s written in a book, it must be true!

  49. subedii says:

    Walsh: What exactly are you arguing against here? That there were some soldiers that tortured and acted cruelly, even viciously during the Vietnam war isn’t really in question, it’s pretty much established fact by now.