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Candella defends Alien Jihad game

"Naming and connotations are deliberate."

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Candella Software has defended its controversial video game Alien Jihad to Eurogamer this afternoon.

Alien Jihad was announced for PC, iOS devices, Android and home consoles this morning.

The premise? A peaceful Earth - where Palestinians and Israelis "party together"; Saudi Arabia booms with mini-skirts; the US, Iran and North Korea create the Axis of Peace; Afghanistan is named the world's safest place; Somalia's economy swells largest; France welcomes back Roma travellers; British MPs decide not to "fiddle" expenses and "rip off" tax payers - is invaded by Aliens from Virginopolis, who flaunt destructive Fatwa technology. "Greedy" Wall Street bankers are turned into alien clones.

"Dick Puffin", leader of "the British Nazi Party", announces that, "We are the aborigines of this land." Former Australian Prime Minister Mr. Howard declares that, "We must invite these aliens to a cricket match. And after they lose, we must do to them what we did to the aborigines."

"Wise geriatric" Italian PM, "Saint Silvio", comments (while receiving "an oil massage from his new underage girlfriend") that, "Our culture is far superior to theirs. It's much better to love bunga bunga girls than these aliens." And "great American rabble rouser Fat Buchanan" broadcasts that, "These aliens pose a clear and present danger to our superior Anglo-Saxon culture."

"It is time for the video games industry to tackle mature subjects affecting millions of people's lives."

Ajith Ram, creative director of Alien Jihad

Alien Jihad gameplay is described as an arcade shooter similar to ancient PC game Star Wars: Rebel Assault. Earned trophies include Greedy Banker, Infidel, Foreclosure King, Bailout Champion, Day of Rage, Tea Party.

Is Alien Jihad for real?

"Yes, it is real," answered Ajith Ram, creative director.

"Naming and connotations are deliberate. The game tries to highlight some of the major political, social and religious issues in the news every day.

"Alien Jihad is a co-production between three small indie developers and all of us believe that it is time for the video games industry to tackle mature subjects affecting millions of people's lives."

Mature subjects, Ram continued, such as "the demonisation of entire Muslim communities due to the violent actions of a minority"; the "rise" of right-wing politics in Europe and the US in reaction to the "perceived" Islamic threat; the classification of some minorities including Roma travellers as "aliens"; the global recession; and the ongoing revolutions spreading throughout the Middle-East that will have "a massive impact on world affairs for decades to come".

"For an industry that pretends to be the art form of the 21st century, games have a strange reluctance to deal with hot topical issues in any form," alleged Ram, "whether the approach to these subjects is humorous or not.

"None of the other art forms have this problem; whether movies, music, art or comics, they have all reflected the topical issues of the day for decades."

Ram used examples such as Bob Dylan singing for peace during the Vietnam War.

"Rarely were they criticised for discussing the burning issue of the day or being unpatriotic," he said. "But when a games studio makes Six Days in Fallujah, all hell breaks loose."

"Surely as the exponents of a new art form, games designers (and publishers) can do better than Italian plumbers, space marines, ninjas and cute animals?"

Ajith Ram, creative director of Alien Jihad

Ram pulls comics into his argument: Judge Dredd depicted hostile post-Third World War world, Ram explained, and the Tom Clancy novels of the 1990s had Palestinian terrorists stealing nuclear bombs to blow up Denver with.

"We even had the usually pussyfooting and politically correct Hollywood portraying a similar story in James Cameron's True Lies," argued Ram. "Quite recently, we had movies like The Infidel (starring Omid Djalili) and Bruno (Sacha Baron Cohen) taking a more comedic approach to Jewish-Muslim issues."

"So why is it," asked Ram, "that the games industry, which now claims to be bigger than box-office Hollywood, has such an enduring problem with global politics? Surely as the exponents of a new art form, games designers (and publishers) can do better than Italian plumbers, space marines, ninjas and cute animals?"

When quizzed about the more personal attacks on "Dick Puffin" - leader of "the British Nazi Party" - clearly a parody of British National Party leader Nick Griffin - Ram countered: "Dick Puffin is a fictional character in the game and not related to anyone. Mr. Griffin's attitudes are also well known."

As for the caricature of Silvio Berlusconi, the British MP expenses scandal and the Middle-East tensions: "All of these were - and some still are - topical issues," answered Ram. "They are quite well covered by the media and there is no reason why a video game should not highlight them as well."

Complex political arguments aside, won't brazenly naming a game Alien Jihad rile Apple and endanger the game's App Store release?

"It remains to be seen," shrugged Ram. "It will not be a problem on the PC which has no censors.

"On other platforms, if the stakeholders have a problem with the title of the game, we'll try renaming it. That's a bridge to cross when we get there."

The "home console" release is more hazy. "[No platforms] that we can specifically mention today," said Ram. "We certainly hope to see the game on consoles in the future."

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