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role playing 9/11

I got to work especially early that day. I did the usual routine of buying my coffee, going outside by West Street for my cigarette, and heading upstairs to the 87th floor to my office.

No, that's not another story from a survivor of 9/11. It's a made-up story from a video game - 911 Survivor (Mod based on the Unreal Game Engine).

When I first saw this page, I was hoping it was a hoax. But this is a real company, making real video games.

From the page that describes the game and the reason for making it:

From here on the other side of the world, it is safe to say that many found it difficult to form deep empathies with the victims of the attack. Unless we knew people personally involved, it was more tempting to celebrate the event as a spectacular undermining of an international dictatorship; one so out of touch with the morality of global equality that it now considers itself free from international law due to self-adorned ‘exceptionalism’.

The makers of this game could find no empathy within themselves for the victims of the attack. And then they thought, what better way to dig up some fake tears then to put yourself there?

The World Trade Centre will never stand again, but in this modification of a computer game, we can use fantasy to imagine ourselves transported there. In this fantasy, we can attempt to understand what it might have really felt like in the last moments of those people's lives. This game mod sets out to provide both the makers, and all other users, with an opportunity to empathically comprehend the reality of what happened at the WTC.

So, by engaging in a little role-playing, where you become the victim, you can relieve your guilt over not feeling any empathy by playing a game about a terrible tragedy that took 3,000 lives.

Some "highlights" of the game:

  • Recreate Twin Towers: Different floors need to be in different states - normal, fiery, debris, and mixes of each

  • Scenarios: Have to choose between being engulfed by flames or jumping from window
  • Sounds: Yells and screams

I don't know if this game is even available - the last update to the game page was in February. Still, the thought behind this game is sickening. Basically, it's something like - even though America deserved this, let's see if we can dig up some emotion by pretending we are the ones jumping out of the building.

Hey, if you don't feel anything about that day, that's your problem. If you think America deserved this, if the deaths of 3,000 people didn't cause you to blink an eye, don't worry about it. They probably didn't want your sympathy anyhow. Creating a game engine that helps you find your way to that place in your soul where you may feel something - and obviously some people can only feel empathy for themselves - then you need more than a video game to help you.

Why would these gamers, or anyone for that matter, want to roam around in a virtual replication of a building moments before it became a coffin for over 2000 people? Why would anyone want to spend endless hours practising to kill enemies in a computer game? The answer is specifically because these activities are fantasy, because we can’t perform them in real life. The violence is not the primary motivation; many computer games do not contain any violence at all. But all games allow us to enact fantasies that are otherwise prohibited, restricted or impossible in reality.

Point taken. But most of those games are based on fantasy. They are made up scenarios designed to look nothing like reality. It's not so much the violence that disturbs me in this one or even the reality of the situation. After all, I have played many video games that simulate real wars. It is the reasoning behind the making of this game that makes me want to take the creators and shove their faces into the rubble that was the World Trade Center.

Let me repeat that one line for you:

Unless we knew people personally involved, it was more tempting to celebrate the event as a spectacular undermining of an international dictatorship; one so out of touch with the morality of global equality that it now considers itself free from international law due to self-adorned ‘exceptionalism’

I know a bunch of people over here who will probably buy this game if it's ever released. Which tells you a whole lot about it.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference role playing 9/11:

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I tried to post on this last night, but words and pMachine failed me. I took it as a sign, had a drink and went to bed. sigh

Thought I'd pitch this into the Mix wothout comment:

Nothing like firing another shot across the bow at Indymedia.

This exact page was in place over a year ago and I've yet to see any mention of this mod on any legit gaming site. I think sick joke.

Its a mod, not a game. Its never going to make it to retail and its never going to be finished by the look of how dated the content on the site is. With any luck they all woke up one morning and realised just how crass it was to turn tragedy into entertainment.

Why is the page still in existence?

Well that last quote is quite disturbing I have to admit.

You do have to be careful though. A lot of games are based on really events that are tragic: those based on WWII come to mind. I am loath to condemn the fact the game involves 9/11. If done correctly it could demonstrate the horror of the event.

If you think this is now possible I would recomend playing MoH and experiencing the D-Day invasion by storming a beach under heavy fire. With the right speakers and a large enough screen it is amazingly intense and gave a rather lot of keyboards jocks new found respect for the "greatest generation".

Disagree, Andrew. There really is a difference between WWII and 9/11. It's the difference between "fighting the good fight" and mass murder.

Or to put it in strictly WWII terms, it's the difference between a game about Normandy and a game about Malmedy.

These are the same kind of people who would release a screen saver that replays the planes hitting over and over and over again. Pathetic.

Oh my god you people. How many of you went to go see Titanic? What? None of you? How would those who died like to know that the only reason that movie performed so well was of a stupid love plot in the middle of a historic tragedy? Too many of you are hypocrites. I would play this game, if only for the reason that I support artists that don't ask for money (Most mods are given away) for people to view and experience their creations. Since when did America become filled with people that turned away at the first sign of stepping on someone's toes? I hate that 9/11 happened but it did. This isn't going to change that. You posted about the "jumping or burning scenario", what about the countless other scenarios? That was a game design and a work in progress. Not the "ALRIGHT! So, We'll have the people catch on fire and jump screaming with the camera wrapping around and go into slow motion as they impact the groung! That's great!" Get a clue and get off your all high and mighty thrones. Shit happens. Some of it is horrible and tragic but that doesn't mean we should just remember it in thought and let it be forgotten over the years. It's the same Tipper Gore - WalMart crowd that think they know what's best for the world.
If you don't like it, don't get it. You people make me sick.

This is Jeff Cole, I am one of the authors on this project.

First, I must say that this is not a game being developed for commercial profit. This is an Art project and is meant to make a statement about media sensationalism and about violence etc in games.

While we do realize this is a touchy subject, the point of the project was to do exactly what I have seen in this forum, create discussion.

I have already seen examples in this forum that relate to other games such as WWII on-line, etc. so I will not delve into a deep discussion of these issues here.

The site is down for the moment as it is currently being re-
structured to reflect our artistic intent. For those interested you will be able to get more information on the project at www.kinematic.org.. as soon as the site is re-done.

And, as for the author of the article, it may have been better if you had asked for the facts on the project, before writing.

Jeff T. Cole

I think the game would be an excellent way for some people to understand the enormity of September the 11th. Sadly it looks as if some also want to "celebrate" the horrific incident.

But remember entertainment will ALWAYS look for ways to mirror the real world. Not so we can laugh at people jumping but so we can try to UNDERSTAND. Not why it happened but exactly what happened and what it was like. You would be less than human if you did not!!!!

Shitheads, there is no difference between 9-11, Iraq, Somalia, Vietnam or Korea. Why? It was all murder/war. Osama or who ever planned the attack on 9-11, views the Iraqi war as terrorism, just as we see 9-11 as terrorism.

TrackBack is a pathetic dumbass, that needs to learn that not everyone is as stupid and brainwashed by the media, as he. I'm glad that I don't know any of you mainstream idiots, hating a game because it offends you.

Why don't you pull your stupid heads out of your asses and see that the world isn't as black and white as you want it to be.

Oh, TrackBack you are so 0wn3d, you fuckhead.