Gaming and Islam20 Sep 2023
Gaming has a large impact on the youth of today and most possibly for generations to come with massive innovations in tech, such as the Apple Vision Pro. As gaming becomes more accessible the influence it has is immense, but what are the implications for Islam as a whole and the Muslim population.
To see the implications we must look and see which famous and popular games represent Muslims in any way. One of which is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 1, 2019 in the campaign mode Muslims are portrayed both positively and negatively. The first group of Muslims introduced in Modern warfare were AQ also known as Al Qatala, the killers in Arabic. This group is the main antagonist of the game as they are considered to be terrorists, they are first introduced in the second mission called Piccadilly. They are seen committing terrorist acts, attacking civilians and military personnel alike, their motive in the game is to expel Russian occupying forces from their fictional homeland called Urzikstan. They use the excuse of Jihad for their actions in the game.
However, on the other side of things, we meet a second Muslim portrayed group in the next Mission, named embedded, called the ULF or Urzikstan Liberation Front. This is a group of volunteer freedom fighters who are also against the invasion of Russia but also Al Qatala, as the main protagonist from this group called Farah considers them to be terrorists not freedom fighters. The ULF cooperates with western Special Forces such as the SAS, US Marines and CIA to expel the Russians and to fight against AQ.
The portrayal of 2 different groups Muslim groups shows that Activision was working to show that not all Muslims are terrorists and wish to cause the deaths of civilians, but rather show that most Muslims are peaceful and only wish to be free.
Another, great portrayal of Muslims that is much more recent is from FIFA 23 which added players that wear the hijab into the women’s division in the game. Gamers today can now play as the likes of , the defender for the Moroccan national team. This year’s FIFA game will be the first time since the incorporation of the women’s league in 2015 that a women which wears a hijab will be added to FIFA. This development combined with efforts to promote women’s football will be developing the inclusion of women in football. With an increase of 600,000 attendees to the women’s World Cup final from the previous record of 400,000 spectators. This development will be promoting girls to join football clubs and overall being more active, this will lead to lower or staggered rates of obesity from young ages and hopefully carry on into adulthood.
Lastly, I wish to mention the upcoming Assassin’s creed game by Ubisoft which will have players becoming Basim Ibn Ishaq in Baghdad, 861 AD. This next instalment of the Assassin’s Creed series will have them returning to the middle east, and the home of the inspiration for the series in general with an area being Alamut Castle. The Alamut Castle was one of the power bases of the historically accurate Order of the Assassins, also known as the Hashashin, we will hopefully be seeing references to the Islamic Golden Age, History of Baghdad and the Abbasids with its feature called History of Baghdad. Developers put massive work into researching and building the lost city of Baghdad in it’s golden age, the ambience will also be made with key sounds like the adhan and different language to emphasise the blending of cultures form the empire which stretched form the Maghrib (Modern day North Africa) and Sindh (modern day Pakistan). Moreover, it will include key historical figures such as Ali Ibn Muhammed, who led the Zanj Rebellion, and the Banu Musa who made large contributions to the field of mechanics. This game has many people in anticipation for its release and will hopefully open people’s eyes to Baghdad, Islam in the past and Muslim contributions to fields in science, maths, philosophy, and literature.
Overall, games are a large industry of entertainment which can teach many things to players and giving them a competitive edge in the real world as they would be inspired by these games and possibly making their own in a rapidly digitalising world. Moreover, the slow but steady introduction of Muslims being protagonist is positive as it could reduce islamophobia in the next generations and those who play the games.