Former Rockstar and Remedy developer Navid Khonsari - whose credits include Grand Theft Auto 3, Max Payne and Alan Wake - has been branded a spy by his native Iran after beginning development on 1979, a game about the turmoil surrounding the Iranian Revolution.
"When word got out about the game, it got picked up by the conservative newspaper in Iran and I got written up as a spy," Khonsari said during his presentation at the Games For Change Conference, reports Kotaku.
"They're basically saying that I'm making propaganda. So, as a result, I can't go back to Iran now. It really sucks because I've got some family there, including elderly relations."
The stakes were raised for 1979's concept artist. "The main artist that worked on all of the main 1979 concept art - I work with only Iranians on that part because I want to be true to the material - he's now fled the country as a result," he explained. "We haven't even released anything yet. But you're guilty just as a result of your affiliation."
Khonsari is currently residing in Toronto, where he's set up his studio Ink Stories to make games about the global repercussions of war on everyday people.
1979 will explore the American Embassy takeover in Tehran from several different vantage points with 8-10 playable characters.
After that, he'd like to make more games about real world conflict with planned titles like 1982 El Salvador, 1988 Panama, 1992 Liberia and 1995 Bosnia.For more information on Khonsari and 1979, check out this interview with Russian news site RT below.
This isn't the first time a game developer has run into trouble with the Iranian government. Ex-Kuma staffer Amir Hekmati is currently behind bars in Iran after he allegedly confessed to being a spy for the CIA on Iranian television. He explained that part of his spy work included making games designed to teach soldiers foreign languages. How dare he use games for education!
The circumstances surrounding his confession are still being investigated, though a death sentence was overturned.