International Relations Journalism New Media Social Media Audio/Video

Global Media Forum Day 3: Serious Games

GMF public in the plenary hall / photo: Cristina Viehmann, ISN
GMF public in the plenary hall / photo: Cristina Viehmann, ISN

Ever since the earliest of ages, the human being has been a player. The Dutch historian Johan Huizinga knew what he was writing when he entitled his 1938 book “Homo Ludens“.

Huizinga defines the conceptual space in which play occurs. And some of the serious games today create the virtual universe in which conflicts occur.

There is nothing you cannot make a game about. What is a game, after all? To create a game, you just need a topic and a virtual universe. You then put people in it and assign them tasks.

Combining virtual experiences with the act of reporting games can be a way of representation. Take Dafur is Dying as an example. And yes, Darfur is a special case because coverage is there, but we do not know why so very little has happened.

When it comes to serious conflict gaming, a big question remains open: How do we deal with the exposure offered by such interactive games?

International Relations Audio/Video

1948-1953: Psychology of Hope in Propaganda Films

In early May London’s Barbican Centre showed its audience the lost and re-discovered propaganda films of the Marshall Plan.

Produced between 1948 and 1953 these films taught the wider Western European public about democratic values and free trade market principles.

The Barbican screening was made possible through the Selling Democracy Project, curated by Sandra Schulberg and Ed Carter.

For all propaganda film nostalgics out there: Some of the films shown at the Barbican’s are also viewable online, via the Film Archive of the German Historical Museum. All available material comes with valuable English descriptions.

Air of Freedom is one of the propaganda films available in the German Historical Museum archive
Air of Freedom is one of the propaganda films available in the German Historical Museum archive

And yet another “vraie trouvaille”, free of charge: The German Newsreel Archives.
The archives are in the process of being set up, but so far 6044 items can be called up.

Screenshot: German Historical Museum Film Archive.

Journalism Audio/Video

One Thousand and One Nights Gone Wrong

Remember reading those fancy folk tales when you were little, commonly known as the “Arabian Nights,” about oriental princes, ghouls and magical wonder lamps? In The History of Gherib and His Brother Agib, things are getting a tad bit more gothic:

“So they seized the prince and binding his hands behind him, beat him till he lost his senses; after which the king imprisoned him in a chamber, where one might not know heaven from earth or length from breadth.”

Many Arabian nights later, in 2004, roles were reversed, as a very disturbing videotape recently smuggled out of the United Arab Emirates by Bassam Nabulsi and aired on ABC News suggests.

In this very sequel the prince is called Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al Nahyan.

Sheikh Issa torturing an Afghan merchant.
Spoiler warning: This time not the prince is beaten till he loses his senses.

He is the son of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, late president of the UAE, and the brother of current UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who also rules Abu Dhabi, as well as of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy commander of UAE’s armed forces.

The video shows Sheikh Issa, assisted by an obedient uniformed police officer, sadistically torturing an Afghan merchant by the cynical name of Mohammed Shah Poor half to death. Sheikh Issa “is seen stuffing sand in the Afghan’s mouth. As the grain dealer pleads and whimpers, he is beaten with a nailed board, burned in the genitals with a cigarette lighter, shocked with a cattle prod, and led to believe he would be shot. Salt is poured on his wounds. In the end, the victim can muster up only weak moans as an SUV is repeatedly driven over him.”

“The incidents depicted in the video tapes were not part of a pattern of behavior,” UAE’s Ministry of the Interior, presided by yet another of Sheikh Issa’s brothers, declared, at the same time officially acknowledging the prince’s involvement. “All rules, policies and procedures were followed correctly by the Police Department”, the statement concluded. O rule of law, where art thou?

After reviewing the tape once more, this time with eyes open obviously, another official statement hit the public: “The HRO [Human Rights Office] of the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department will conduct a comprehensive review of the matter immediately and make its findings public at the earliest opportunity.” In the meantime, the prince was set under house arrest, being the first senior member of the royal family ever to be publicly detained in Abu Dhabi.

It remains to be seen if the original tale might prove not-that-fictional, and the prince (who has lately been accused with at least 25 more cases of cinematic bestiality) will finally be imprisoned “in a chamber, where one might not know heaven from earth or length from breadth”. Insha’Allah.

Screenshot: ABC News

Government Audio/Video

Reding Says EU Not Ready for Cyberattack

Screenshot of Reding's site
Screenshot of Reding\’s site

Offering up the 2007 Estonia attacks as an example, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media Viviane Reding says in her video blog that the EU must do more to protect member states against cyberattacks.

According to Reding, a month-long internet interruption in the US or Europe would lead to “losses of at least 150 billion euro.”

The Luxemberger took no prisoners in scolding her own organization:

“So far, the EU’s 27 Member States have been quite negligent. Although the EU has created an agency for network and information security, called ENISA, this instrument remains mainly limited to being a platform to exchange information and is not, in the short term, going to become the European headquarters of defense against cyber attacks. I am not happy with that.”

Reding believes that Europe needs a “Mister Cyber Security” (hmmm…or a “Miss” maybe?), a go-to person for when an attack is underway. The person would also be in charge of enacting plans preclude attacks.

This call is somewhat a day late and a dollar short (the EU should have gotten the message with Estonia), but Reding is on the mark in stating that the EU’s efforts have fallen far, far short.

The full video blog can be found here along with a PDF transcript.

Screenshot: Site of Viviane Reding.

New Media Audio/Video

Kim Jong Il: Jack of all trades…

Just a tad bit late for Groundhog Day, North Korea leader Kim Jong Il, or one of his doubles, may have appeared during his ‘re-election’ to another five-year term as ‘eternal president.’

I don’t think they’re doubles. I think he’s re-spawning, hence the multiple re-elections as ‘eternal president.’

Kim’s been out of sight since having a stroke last August.

Or maybe he’s been taking a well-deserved break.

Being ‘The Great Athlete’ is a hard job:

‘Master of Creation’ is harder:

Oh, and we mustn’t forget, ‘The Fashion Designer’

He’s runway ready.