March 14, 2013: A pro-Islamic terrorist website is now featuring a crude (think 1990s style graphics) game where players can use al Qaeda air force (a fiction, but then, this is a game) jet fighters to oppose French warplanes over northern Mali. For the players it’s a no-lose proposition. If a player is shot down he sees a message saying "Congratulations, you have been martyred."
This particular game was created using the Construct 2 game editor software. This software allows non-programmers to quickly create a video game. The Mali game seems very crude to Western gamers but there’s a lot less money for powerful computers or game consoles to play recent video games in the Moslem world. Al Qaeda recruits from the shallow end of the gene pool, and these guys are lucky to have access to the Internet at all (and usually on an older PC via a slow dial up line). So for their target audience, this web based game does a pretty good job.
For more affluent al Qaeda fans there’s long been another source of pro-terrorist games. This comes from modifying existing games to show the terrorists as the good guys and Americans as the evil foe. This has been going on for two decades.
Back in the 1990s, computer game publishers found that adding more game modification options was popular with their customers and helped sell more games. The first of these game editors appeared in the early 1990s. We're talking very powerful editors, enabling the player to make graphic and play mods on the game, usually in the form of new scenarios. Games like DOOM made it easy to modify the graphic elements, which led to the creating of some spectacular "wads" (as the modified scenarios were called). These modifications are now called "mods", and since 2001, kids in Moslem countries have been creating a lot of mods that show Islamic irregulars fighting U.S. troops.
Visuals from these mods often show up on pro-terrorist web sites. Terrorist leaders believe these mods are good for recruiting. After all, the U.S. uses an online game, America's Army, to help with recruiting, and believes that it works. Then again, U.S. troops have a much lower casualty rate than Islamic terrorists, which may make a difference. But the Moslem gamers can use the game editors to make the Islamic fighters more powerful than they are in reality. While an entertaining illusion, it can get you killed more quickly in actual combat.