London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Want to fight Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territory? Pretty soon, you’ll be able to do just that in Ramzi’s Rumble, a forthcoming Indie game that puts the player in the shoes of a young Palestinian who has to defend his land from illegal settlers. Throwing stones at construction workers and jumping over charging soldiers, young Ramzi tries to do everything in his power to stop illegal settlement building.
Ramzi’s Rumble, created by London-based game developers Paolo Carvajal and Vinay Chaudhri, passed its Kickstarter goal just one day after the Palestinians’ submitted a historic draft resolution to the UN Security Council setting a 2017 deadline for the end of Israel occupation.
“Like most people in the world, and like most of the members of the UN, we support an independent Palestinian state. The people of Palestine deserve the recognition and protection of the international community. The sooner the better,” game designer Paulo Carvajal told Asharq Al-Awsat.
“We haven’t discussed how a potential recognition [of the state of Palestine] will affect the game. We just hope that the Palestinian people get what they deserve and what was promised to them by the international community decades ago,” he added.
Carvajal said that one of the main reasons for deciding to develop a game featuring an Arab protagonist was due to frustration over the lack of positive Arab or Muslim characters in Western media, particularly games and movies.
“We were basically fed up with the stereotype of the Arab as a terrorist and wanted to create an Arab hero. Someone young Arab kids could aspire to. But also to present Westerners with the unknown concept of an ‘Arab hero’. We notice it makes them very uncomfortable if Arabs are not being portrayed as villains or victims,” he said.
Ramzi, wearing a 2-dimensional 64-bit keffiyah, is introduced as a “Palestinian kid who will not accept injustice, even if it means taking on a Goliath. This boy is willing to face any army to reclaim his home” according to the game’s official website. His greatest strength? His aim. The game features just three other characters: soldier, builder and settler. The Israeli soldier is dismissed as “not as tough as he looks” and “compensates stupidity with determination,” while the settlers—who increase in number if Ramzi’s aim is off—are “stubborn as a donkey.”
As for criticism that the game portrays the Israelis as villains, Carvajal told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Ramzi’s Rumble is our way of criticizing the construction of illegal settlements in occupied Palestine. It is not against Israel, or Israelis or Jews. The game draws attention to a policy that is being rejected by the UN, the EU, the US and I believe on some occasions even by the Supreme Court of Israel.”
However Ramzi’s Rumble is just the first step in a “master plan” by Chaudhri and Carvajal, not just to help raise awareness of the Palestinian cause and Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territory, but to grow it into an online platform that can raise funds structurally for the Palestinians.
“With the raised money we want to give Palestinian kids the knowledge and hardware to develop and produce their own games. And to eventually create and become amazing stereotypes that the West can no longer ignore,” the game makers say. Once the game is produced, it will be available for download for free, but any advertising revenue generated from the game will be used to buy computers and software for Palestinian children. “Teach them how to write code and how to develop apps and games. Now they can build their own future, develop their own games with Arab heroes.”
Carvajal told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Yes, Ramzi’s Rumble is provocative . . .But I honestly believe the game is very peaceful. Far more peaceful than anything we have seen from Hollywood and the many games that glorify the War on Terror. In Ramzi’s Rumble, nobody dies. Nobody gets hurt. Nobody is being blown up. In that sense, it is much more respectful to human life than any other game that takes place in the Middle East. Because little Ramzi does not want war. He just wants his home back.”