An Army Public School massacre game? Really Punjab IT board?
No, no, I’m not joking. I swear, it’s true.
It’s no longer available on Google Play store (Gosh! I wonder why?) but people have seen it, played it, reviewed it and are all asking the same question, what were you thinking Punjab IT Board?
The answer is, probably nothing.
A video game of APS school attack? WTF is the Punjab IT Board smoking? Are they out of their freaking minds?
— Sahrish Iftikhar (@shadesofsunrise) January 18, 2016
Some great premises for the Punjab IT Board to mine for games: Malala’s shooting, the sex abuse scandal in Kasur, Mukhtar Mai’s gang rape.
— Fasih Ahmed (@therealfasih) January 18, 2016
I wonder why no one questioned this entire idea from the moment it was pitched (probably by someone who spends far too much time playing Call of Duty and not enough time hanging out with real people) to the final stages of testing and launching.
There are endless first person shooter games that centre around the theme of the armed forces taking out the bad guys, so why should this be any different?
Simply because no other game developer was stupid enough to turn a real life heart wrenching massacre into a game. Even if any game developer did do so, the Punjab IT board should have known better and not followed suit.
Cast your mind back to Homeland season 4. Things got really specific and ugly. We were outraged because nothing was vague any more. Islamabad was a war-torn hell hole and Pakistanis apparently made a habit of mobbing visiting foreigners like a horde of mindless zombies.
This wasn’t some generic camel covered desert with banners in Arabic, this was personal. We were shocked and we let the world know. It made no difference (the makers probably welcomed the publicity) but the public’s reaction to the show ought to have given some indication of why the APS game would have been a bad idea.
The APS massacre speaks to us on a much more personal level than anything in living memory. Why was it trivialised in this way? The answer is not very far, but it’s also not obvious. We let this happen.
It’s simple; cast your mind back to the tragedy’s first anniversary. The media milked it like anything. Morning shows, evening shows, news shows, talk shows, special segments; all of which could have been handled with a bit more sensitivity. We allowed the parents and survivors to be paraded up and down, we allowed anchors to make them relive those terrible moments, speak about their despair as the cameras zoomed in to get us a closer look at their tears, complete with sad music and special effects.
“It was their choice!” you counter.
“No one made them come on television and do all of that.”
True, but they did those things so that their loved ones and their sacrifice would not be forgotten. Most importantly they did it for justice, for their voice to be heard. They have still not received the closure they deserve. The media is quick to set up a stage so we can see them cry, but there is very little follow-up on whether the concerns of these parents have been addressed.
Zarb-e-Azb is on-going and we have the National Action Plan, but people still think they can get away with posting racial slurs on shop windows. Killers are still greeted at court with a rain of rose petals, scum like Abdul Aziz continue to chair rallies, make demands and brag about being ‘untouchable’. Not to mention the stream of absolutely ridiculous fatwas and the madrassas which continue to be open for business despite teaching nothing but hate.
Eight-year-olds have serious discussions about the validity of the faith (and the nefarious intentions) of people of the ‘other’ sects in private school classrooms, politicians continue to ask for negotiations with ‘our misguided brothers’, job advertisements for menial positions continue to specify how applicants of a certain faith would be preferable and educational institutes continue to be unsafe.
In retrospect, the Punjab IT Boards decision doesn’t appear strange at all. We, the people, have proved time and time again, that to us, it’s all just a game.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.