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Seriously Brutal: Global Conflicts - Child Soldiers

Talk about implausible. The villain of Serious Games Interactive’s latest interview-em-up is a rebel leader who, according to the game’s absurd back-story, has spent the last twenty years mutilating, murdering, abducting and raping thousands of his own countrymen with the help of an army of brainwashed children. Pffft. As if the International Community would let a thing like that happen.

In many ways Global Conflicts: Child Soldiers is typical SGI fare. Unflinching, disturbing, primarily educational… it’s a rather frail game with a fascinating real-life conundrum at its core. Joseph Kony, one of the most despicable men on the planet, will only attend peace-talks if the International Criminal Court and the Ugandan government drop all charges against him. Should we agree to his demands in the hope of ending one of the most brutal insurgencies imaginable?

Having played through twice, I’m still undecided. By putting you in the shoes of an International Criminal Court employee sent to Uganda to talk to Kony, the Danish devs seem to counsel against pragmatism and military solutions from the start. Then again they do let you meet and talk to persuasive NPCs like Monica Atto, an IDP (Internally Displaced Person) prepared to forego personal justice in the interests of the peace process, and Dalson Oyo, a man who argues that Kony should be hunted down and slain like a rabid dog. Dalson has good reason to loathe the Lord’s Resistance Army. They are the reason he no longer has hands, ears, lips, or a nose.

In pure game terms Global Conflicts: Child Soldiers has various failings. As an educational device however, it’s pretty extraordinary. Of the hundreds of NPCs I will doubtless meet over the next twelve months, I can’t imagine any will fix my attention, or burn themselves into my memory more effectively than Monica or Dalson.

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Tim Stone

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