Kill Bin Laden Yourself: First Video Game Rushed to Market
Kuma Games CEO tells THR, "Bin Laden was a bad man, and people feel relieved that he is gone. To be able to recreate his death is just an added bonus."
Less than a week after America's elite Navy SEALs assassinated Osama Bin Laden, gamers will be able to virtually experience the raid and pull the trigger to kill the al Qaeda leader. KumaWar Episode 107: Osama 2011 is the final mission of the long-running online video game franchise, which launched in 2004.
The new game mission, which launches on May 7, was developed by New York-based game studio Kuma Games, which makes online games for the History Channel, Animal Planet and Biography Channel. Over 20 million gamers have logged onto one of Kuma's 150 online game episodes over the years.
The free-to-play KumaWar franchise has been accurately recreating key battles and missions in the War on Terror for the past eight years, working with current and former military personnel to bring the interactive action to life.
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"We read the same published reports as everyone else, though I suspect with a different eye," said Kuma Games CEO Keith Halper. "Since we have to reproduce events in 3D we care deeply about esoteric details like distances, heights, vegetation, furniture and the like that have to be re-created in the game. Sounds -- dogs barking, helicopters orbits, pyrotechnics -- those are important too. It's all available in the public sources, and there was a tremendous amount of data released as you know, but the magic is in piecing together the details from the million little clues order to create a convincing 3D environment."
Halper expects a large amount of players to download the free ad-supported Episode 107, including those new to games. He believes many Americans want closure to the 10-year reign of terror, and with President Obama not releasing photos of Bin Laden's dead body, people will be able to kill the terrorist themselves.
"Bin Laden was a bad man, and people feel relieved that he is gone," Halper said. "To be able to recreate his death is just an added bonus."
Since this is a video game, the team at Kuma has designed the mission to be a dynamic experience that changes each time someone plays it. Bin Laden will always be in a different area of the compound. And al Qaeda will have weapons caches spread throughout the compound.
"The SEALs must have been quick, smart, lucky or all of the above to have al Qaeda not be able to reach their weapons," said Halper. "Additionally, we see that the final rush up the stairs must have been incredibly perilous. Finally, the SEALs didn't know where Osama was and neither will you; every corner is a potential death trap and each must be explored to find your target. Players will see all the key elements first-hand and gain a knowledge of the operation that would be difficult to obtain through traditional linear narratives."
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But there will be two videos connected to the new game level, which has been a running theme for KumaWarto utilize military experts and set up each mission in an authentic, TV news-style broadcast presentation. The first video is a visual poem set to the song "The Citizen" by Josh Freedman and overlays Obama's speech with images, music and words.
"The second video is a timeline of the mission built using the game footage as a kind of backlot," explained Halper. "The freedom of an interactive 3D space is that events will vary based on how you interact with it. It's important, however, for our mission that everyone is clear -- what happened really, and what represents 'what ifs' from this laboratory we're presenting. The movie lays out an account of the actual mission that is as accurate and detailed as our current knowledge allows. And if our understanding of the event changes, we'll update the movie and re-release it."
Halper said he woke up Monday morning with an in-box filled with e-mails from gamers asking when they would be able to play this mission. Unfortunately for gamers, this will be the final mission for the long-running war game series.
"There is a finality to the story arc that began with the invasion of Afghanistan (Operation Anaconda, our first episode) and ends with getting the guy we come for," said Halper. "Perhaps that's just optimism."
Kuma Games will continue to develop new interactive experiences, including projects tied to television series like Animal Planet's I, Predator. That January release allowed gamers to play as both the predator and the prey in a first-person perspective action game.