Video game inspired by Pakistan school massacre pulled

A gory video game set inside the Pakistani school where more than 130 children were massacred by Taliban gunmen has been withdrawn, weeks after it was released as part of an army-backed campaign to promote peace and tolerance in the country.

Players of Pakistan Army Retribution take the role of a soldier attempting to “protect precious lives from terrorists” who attacked the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar in December 2014.

There are various levels in the game, which features a rousing rendition of the national anthem, depicts events from the day of the attack and is branded with the logos of the Pakistan Army and the Punjab Information Technology Board.

The organisations jointly commissioned the game as part of a campaign to mark the one-year anniversary of the school killings.

Although it had been available to users of Android mobile devices for some time, it only attracted public attention on Monday when Dawn newspaper ran a review on its website that declared the game “failed on every front”.


Online readers were as unimpressed as the reviewer, with many lambasting it as disrespectful of the dead. “Making a game out of the nation’s most gruesome tragedy is adding salt to the injuries of not only the families of the martyred children but the entire nation,” one commentator wrote.

The attack by seven Pakistani Taliban gunmen on schoolchildren, supposedly to avenge army operations against militant sanctuaries, profoundly shocked a country where terrorism had become almost routine. The incident has been credited with pushing Pakistan into a long-delayed confrontation with domestic militant groups.

Umar Saif, who chairs the Punjab Information Technology Board, said the game was immediately pulled from the Google Play store after he became aware of it on Monday.

“It wasn’t very well done and it was in poor taste,” he said. “In hindsight, it was not a good thing to do.”

Saif said Pakistan Army Retribution was just one of dozens of videos, jingles and social media items commissioned as part of a Peaceful Pakistan campaign intended to build on national revulsion over the APS attack.

“APS was a watershed for Pakistan so we had the idea of using it as a theme to promote peace, tolerance and harmony,” he said.

“The plan was to show children that the best weapons are the pen and the book.”

The game was produced by an independent company that had “misunderstood the brief”, Saif said.

“We tried to use the campaign to galvanise support for Peaceful Pakistan but I guess we messed up with this particular game.” – © Guardian News & Media 2016

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

India and China border conflict intensifies

A frontier dispute between the two Asian giants turned deadly for the first time in 45 years. Observers argue the skirmish was exacerbated by Delhi’s annexation of Kashmir and Ladakh

The blankest spot on Trump’s world map

In his new book of his time in the Trump White House, former US National Security Adviser John Bolton shares Trump’s very few thoughts on Africa

Censorship, surveillance could be the biggest rights challenges post Covid-19

The impacts of these infringements could last well beyond the life of the Covid-19 pandemic

Surviving Covid-19 — and Modi

A religious and nationalist agenda has replaced the promise of development and left India ill-equipped to manage the pandemic

Terrorism used as excuse to suppress Kashmir

Within India, the Bharatiya Janata Party government is stoking Islamophobia by using religion as an instrument of identity politics

Kashmir: Modi’s threat to India’s democracy

The revocation of the contested territory’s special status marks a dangerous Hindu-nationalist shift
Advertising

Treasury presents Covid-19 corruption action plan

Reports of corruption, over-pricing and the delivery of sub-standard PPE have become the norm over the past five months as the country grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic

Metro cops, SAPS clash over control

Tensions between the City of Cape Town and the police service over responsibilities mirrors the strain between national and local government
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday