A game app about Mexico's drug war launched this week. It's called NarcoGuerra, and it challenges you to "end the never-ending war."
Narco Guerra developers argue that the whole point of this game, which is designed for mobile phones and tablets and costs .99 cents, is to make you think about how hard it is to stop the drug trade.
"Better that we are talking about this topic and why it is happening, whatever the medium being used, than we turn a blind eye and pretend it is not going on," Tomas Rawlings, the Narco Guerra developer, said in a recent press release.
"The War on Drugs has been going on for more than 40 years now, and we wanted to explore why that is," added Rawlings.
In NarcoGuerra, you are asked to act as Mexico's Police Chief. You get money, weapons, and troops, and must decide how to deploy these limited resources around Mexico, as you try to rid different parts of the country of cartel activity. Certain actions, like taking down a cartel leader in one area of Mexico, also generate reactions like the emergence of new cartels. This gives users an idea of what the real drug war is like.
Narco Guerra is mostly a strategy game, which makes it quite different from previous games about the drug war that focus on blasting your way through streets infested with criminals.
This new game is actually part of a British initiative called Game the News, which is attempting to use games to get people to think about current events.
Game the News has created games about the U.S. Elections, and one about the horse-meat scandal in Europe, which gets you to think about how quickly meat is processed in modern plants, and how hard it is to keep up the quality.
The company also made a game called EndGame Syria, which created controversy after Apple refused to sell it on its iTunes store because it was too explicit about the situation in that country. Game The News changed the title of the game and the place names that it uses. It's now available online as "EndGame Eurasia."
Game the News claims on its website, that its programmers are "the world's first news correspondents who cover global events as games."
"In reflecting the world around us a singer might write a song, a filmmaker produces a documentary and a journalist writes an article, as games developers we express our interest via games," said Rawlings. "This game aims to engage players in the issue and get them to think about why this war is still going on despite the billions spent on it."