Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Gamers of the world...UNITE

Lets take a little break from politics for a while. I am going to describe videogaming in Iraq. This may not be up everyones alley, just to warn you.

Videogames are a huge part of our society. Almost everyone I know, regardless of their socioeconomic status, either owns a console or has regular access to one. Almost every neighbourhood in Baghdad has what you might call a 'videogame cafe' with several consoles where people can play for about a dollar an hour. You could also rent a console for the night and return it in the morning. This is very common. Friends have slumber parties during holidays or weekends, they rent a console with several games and spend the night playing. Iraqis are hardcore gamers. You would find people from 5 to 50 years old at these cafes.

The most popular console in Iraq is the Sony Playstation. Dreamcast and the PS2 also have their devoted fans. The Xbox and Gamecube aren't very popular here. We have a special gamers disctrict at Bab Al-Sharji at the heart of the city where you can find hundreds of videogame vendors. Of course all the games we get are copies and we rarely find originals. There are (thankfully!) no such things as copyrights in Iraq. Which means you are able to buy a PS game for half a dollar. These games reach us the moment they are released in neighbouring countries. Football games are favorites. Winning Eleven(Konami) is a classic in Iraq. First Person Shooters and Adventure games are also highly respected.

Another thing you would find in every neighbourhood is LAN cafes. About 10-20 computers are linked together and gamers play for hours. Sometimes in major streets in Baghdad there are many LAN cafes linked together which make a great source of fun for LAN gamers. Games played on LAN are: Red Alert, Empire Earth, Counter Strike, Unreal Tournament, Medal Of Honour, Fifa,..etc. Friends also meet regularly at someones house bringing their computers throwing in LAN parties. My brother and I have linked our computers and we play Unreal Tournament most of the time.

I remember owning an Atari when I was 4 or 5 back in UK. A little older I got an Acorn Electron, then a Sinclair. In Iraq I had an XT 8086 PC. At that time I had discovered Sierra Adventure games. I spent several hours a day playing games like King Quest, Police Quest, Leisure Suit Larry. I was fascinated with them. These games served a great educational effect on an 11 year old. I was such a geek at that time. I left PC games around 1995 and turned to videogames. About 2 years ago I returned to PC games. My all time favorite has to be Unreal Tournament. I am trying to start my own CTF clan here sometime. My console favorites are Survival Horror games, one game I worship is Silent Hill. I have beat it like 10 times and I never get bored of it. I wish they would make a Silent Hill movie one day.