What if one day news could be reported to you as a game?
This is exactly what the guys over at Auroch Digital have been doing – poring through the more prominent headlines and turning them into games to “report” the news to you in the most entertaining format possible. This incredible pet project known as Game the News (GTN) is proudly supported by the University of Abertay Dundee’s Prototype Fund with additional help from the Pervasive Media Studio. Although still in its infancy, GTN has already appeared on Wired and The Huffington Post.
You might be wondering how you could take news and write a game out of it within such a short time… Well, by using a rapid prototyping approach, games can be developed in a very short time to reach out to as wide an audience as possible before the news being “reported” dies down. And, that is exactly how the subject matter for Endgame: Syria was tackled with just a scant two weeks of development time.
What is it?
Endgame: Syria is a card strategy game that simulates the events that took place in the ongoing Syrian war. It comes in three flavors – HTML5, iOS, and Android. You could get it to play on your mobile or tablet but for the purpose of this review, we shall only be taking a look at the HTML5 version running on a PC. Since it is an online game, you will need to open up Endgame: Syria in your browser. We tried the game with several major browsers, and only had some graphical glitches with the version of Opera – otherwise the game looked great. Here is the link to the game.
In Endgame: Syria, you will be leading the rebel forces as they go up against the Assad regime. Your objective is to whittle away at the support for the Regime until they have been defeated. The game is divided into two phases of play – Political and Military. In the former phase, you can play up to two cards (out of four) to help bolster the rebel forces, while the latter phase allows you to place down up to four cards (out of eight) as you fight it out against the Assad regime. Both phases has the smart AI laying down decent cards against you, so you will need to put up a good fight just to win the game.
Cards in the Political Phase will obviously target either the Rebels or the Regime. The key thing here is to make sure support for the Rebels stay above zero while trying to undermine the regime by neutralising their actions, or . The Military Phase has four Regime cards arrayed against you. You need to make sure your Attack Rating outmatches your enemy’s Resilience for every paired up card, so that you can have a field day choking the Regime’s support. Each card deployed in the Military Phase will cost you Support, plus there is also a chance to cause civilian casualties, so choose carefully which cards you field.
We were very impressed by the selection of card choices, and how the descriptive text for each card seems to bring to life plausible scenarios that must have happened during the senseless ongoing Syrian war. The look and feel of the game also looks gritty enough to feel like you were in a Middle Eastern environment – hot sandy desert. You will also be subjected to important Events during the game that may affect either side, so make sure your Support remains strong throughout your game.
Endgame: Syria is a neat little game that does not deserve being shackled to a small window in the browser. The game oozes quite some quality and is actually fun to play. Players familiar with card games like Magic: The Gathering should have no problems playing this game as the
rules are very much simpler here.
The subject matter for Endgame: Syria should not however be looked on from a trivialized angle; people and civilian casualties are dying everyday over in Syria. Hopefully with this unique gamification approach, it will make more people aware of what is happening today in the beleaguered country of Syria.