It's not an uncommon thing to have video games based on real life conflicts, and I can think of a good dozen games across consoles based on conflicts that have happened in the recent or distant past. From Call of Duty's World At War set in the 1940s Eastern Europe and Pacific fronts to the PC game This War of Mine, set in the 1992-96 Bosnian War. We humans love our conflict and conflict is usually an important part of most stories. Regardless of the time period or console, most of our war games all have one thing in common. They've waited until after the war has ended to make the game, usually as a sign of respect to those still fighting the war and suffering its effects. Not so Syrian Warfare, the game from Russian indie game developer Cats who Play. The game has just recently been approved for release on Steam, a major accomplishment for any game, I'm sure you'll agree, but it's actually been around for much longer and causing controversy for about as long.
The Daily Star wrote an article about the game and its potential effects on serving as a recruitment tool for the terrorist group known as the Islamic State on May 30th of this year while just yesterday a Steam user brought up the idea that this project might not be in good taste, as the Syrian Civil War is still very much relevant and still going on with one of the Developers firing back at the very bottom of the thread.
'Art, for example during The Great Patriotic War (as a part of WWII) in our country were created a lot of patriotic works of art (books, songs, cinema etc). And no one said that was a bad taste. It was a contribution of creative persons in the great victory. We develope the game not just for fun or money. We think we can do something for support Syrian people and our Russian soldiers. It is a drop in the ocean probably, but it is our contribution.'
In fact, the entire discussion section of the Syrian Warfare game has devolved into your standard internet arguments. One discussion was about how America and Saudi Arabia created ISIS, another wanted to know if Serbia was a playable faction because they wanted to 'remove Kebab' the usual, but there was quite a bit of interest in if you would be allowed to play as a terrorist group. The Devs had an answer to this question as well.
'You play start from simple policeman and see how civil war is rising up, after few mission you can get support from RF, and game finished in Palmira. Yes we know more battles is happening after Palmira and other anti-ISIS forces is fight in real life, but we not have so much time to present them all in the game just from start, but of course we planning develop new missions and continue storyline after steam release (like kurdish side or special mission from anti-ISIS coalition), there a big filed for develop. And last one thing, we not give to a player chance to fight on the side of terrorists, not in single, not in multiplayer when it comes. I think its strange thing when someone wonna play on this evil murders side, we not support it.'
The game doesn't have a confirmed release date yet besides Autumn 2016, which implies it's coming soon. The trailer (can be seen below) seems well put together, which gives me some hopes and the developers seem to be taking it seriously enough, given the gravity of the content and storyline. I hope that the developers handle the game with the care and attention that such a topic as the Syrian Civil War, an event which has left millions either dead or displaced, deserves and will be waiting to see what happens when it is released.
Check out the official trailer for Syrian Warfare below: