Game industry struggles to react to growing Palestinian death toll

As casualties have mounted with the Israeli government's assault on the Gaza Strip, the impact of the violence has had fallout in the world of game development and media.

There’s no untangling the Israeli government’s assault on the Palestinian people from the world of video games this week. As casualties have mounted with the Israeli’s government’s assault on the Gaza Strip, the impact of the violence has had fallout in the world of video games.

As of this writing, the Washington Post lists 200 Palestinians killed in a barrage of missile and artillery attacks by the Israeli Defense Force, and 10 Israelis slain by Hamas-launched rockets.

The exponentially disproportionate death toll doesn’t include any accounting of the street-level violence that began after Israeli settlers and police forces began the process of evicting Palestinian residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem. Protests and counter-protests escalated into a police raid on the Al-Aqsa mosque during Ramadan prayers last week.

(For more on how Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories impacts game developers from the area, you can see developer Rasheed Abueideh’s 2017 #1ReasonToBe presentation in the video above. He's the creator of Liyla and the Shadows of War, a mobile game drawn directly from his lived experiences.)

In the light of the disproportionate impact on Palestinian people across the region, individual game developers and journalists began speaking out and attempting to raise funds for non-governmental organizations providing aid in the area. That’s where things got complicated.

Both IGN and Game Informer ran stories last week with links to charities working to respond to the growing human rights crisis Palestinians face. Those stories vanished over the weekend, seemingly due to intervention from both outlets’ corporate managers.

A statement appeared on the IGN Twitter feed that appeared to take issue with the IGN team’s decision to include charities specifically aiding Palestinians, offering instead to make a donation to Save the Children.

These are the organizations that IGN and Game Informer originally shared with their readers:

The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund


The United Nations Relief and Works Agency

Medical Aid for Palestinians

Doctors Without Borders

Game Informer additionally shared links to Friends of Al-Aqsa and a Just Giving fundraising page run by UK organization Muslim Relief.

The rhetoric of Israeli national security and a right to self defense against Hamas carries so much weight that it's forced two video game outlets to pull links to charities supporting medical and financial in the region. It's also been used to justify stringent restrictions on Palestinians that deny them the same human rights that the rest of us enjoy.

As the death toll continues to rise, it feels worth remembering stories like Abueideh's to remember the ordinary people this rhetoric impacts--or risk being so blind to human suffering that continued deaths leave us numb.

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