computergames, Islam, and politics

Vít Šisler is one of the interesting people I learned to know at the Cyberspace 2005 conference and with whom I will stay in close contact on every account. Vít is a young Prague-based lawyer whose primary research interests are Islam and Islamic law in cyberspace. Exotic bricolage already, isn’t it? According to his own testimony he woke up one morning and realized that he spoke Arabic. Not by means of a miracle, but as an after-effect of his long-time sojourns in the Middle East. So he decided to enlarge his wisdom by studying again—Arabic Studies. When I had talked to Vit for ten minutes I told him that he may not have realized it, but that he in fact was an anthropologist in disguise ;o) A full-fledged cyberanthropologist, to be precise. Islam and Islamic law in cyberspace is all fine, but besides that he has a deep interest in persuasive computergames, that is games which actually carry ideas, norms, values, even ideologies. That’s obvious with games like America’s Army, but hardly anyone knows about the according examples from the Middle East. Just like Bollywood for a long time virtually was unknown to the ‘western’ discourse and public on cinema and the movies, Middle Eastern computergames till now exist somehow hidden from ‘our’ gaze—that’s true for the gaze of the public, as well as for academia’s gaze. For an introduction have a look at Vít’s paper Videogames and Politics [in English]. And then I desperately wait for the next two papers he promised to me: “[…] one is ‘Digital Intifada’ about Syrian pro-palestinian games, second is ‘In Videogames You Shoot Arabs or Aliens’ which is an interwiev with the designer of those games….” Hell, am I glad to have made the late-night way to Brno.
via face-to-face and e-mail conversation with Vít Šisler

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