Alleged Iranian Spy 'Confesses' That U.S. Video Game Company Is CIA Propaganda Tool

When Iranian state TV aired the alleged confession of a homegrown spy on Sunday night, Amir Mirza Hekmati's recitation of supposed wrongdoings included the standard claims of working as mole for the American Government along with a less common twist: that he'd supposedly worked for a video game company that was secretly trying to warp American perceptions of the Middle East.

"After (working for DARPA), I went to Kuma (Games Company)," Hekmati was quoted as saying by Iran's Tehran Times. "This computer company was receiving money from the CIA to (produce) and design and distribute for free special movies and games with the aim of manipulating public opinion in the Middle East. The goal of the company in question was to convince the people of Iran and the people of the entire world that whatever the U.S. does in other countries is a good measure."

New York-based Kuma games has, of course, never intimated that they are a propaganda tool for the CIA. The company has, however, made a computer game series called Kuma War. That series has consisted of military first-person shooter missions that re-create events in the Middle East and surrounding region, including missions that let players try to participate in a virtual recreation of the killing of Osama Bin Laden as well as the former leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Alleged spy Amir Mirza Hekmati, as he appeared on Iranian state television on Sunday.

Kuma officials told me in 2006 that the company has done contract work for the U.S. government, designing gaming technology to help train the armed forces. But it has primarily presented itself as a gaming company that caters to civilians. It has opened its studio doors to MTV and Kotaku, among other outlets. Kuma has not only done ripped-from-the-headlines military games. It has made video games about dinosaurs and mobsters. It has done contract work for major American cable TV networks. And its military games have strayed far from subject matter that could be accused of anti-Middle East propaganda with commercially-available missions made about Senator John Kerry's experience on a swiftboat during the Vietnam War and one about that war's Tet Offensive.

We've asked a Kuma spokesperson about the assertions in the supposed confession and will update this story when we hear back.

CIA spy: U.S. sought to prevent Iran from being a model in Mideast [Tehran Times]


Comments

    Shown on State TV it must be true!

    Dunno if anyone else is seeing it but the text is overlapping your picture, if you change the width in the tag to 300 it'll fix that (firefox 8 if your web guys are interested)

    I call bullshit on the following grounds:

    1. Such funding would NOT have been made public outside of the top-level of the company. There is no way anyone in the programming, art or creative staff, the areas where an ex-DARPA employee (if that is even true) would most likely have worked, would have been made aware of such contributions. Additionally, such contributions would have been made through a front company rather than directly from the CIA, making it impossible to determine from a direct observation of their financial records if for some reason he did obtain access to them.

    2. Kuma Games has made countless other war-based games, so it would be natural for them to do one based on the recent conflicts. No additional funding would have been necessary.

    3. Other game companies have also done games based on the recent conflicts as part of continuing series or as part of new IP. The current trend is towards middle-east based games as the games progress forward in time, so following that trend should not be grounds for suspicion.

    4. It is suspiciously convenient that such allegations come right after the Iran government launches complaints regarding a recently developed game based on conflicts with Iran.

    While on the surface it sounds moronically stupid, it's worth noting that the CIA did finance the production of movies through dummy companies in the eighties and nineties that made their organisation and the US military look good. They've certainly poured money into stupider projects over the years.

    This is an organisation that's jokingly referred to as Christians In Action by the rest of the worlds intelligence communities and methods are described as chequebook intelligence, as in they just buy information and bribe people to defect. Hence why they've had so much trouble adapting to deal with religous extremist organisations.

    Well one of the conspiracy theory is that the US government has been influencing developers and publishers to make video games that is clear propaganda that the US army is awesome and you should join and that all Middle Easterners, Russians and Chinese are all bad and evil.

    Tho it could be that, it sell to have the protagonist apart of the US army which is most recognizable and taps into the patroitism of the american people who is the biggest market, and that since the 40s have grown up being told Germans are nazi's so evil, Russians are communist, so evil, Chinese own everything, so are evil, and finally Middle Easterners are terrorist and therefore evil as well. So when picking who should be the bad guys you have basically a already defined set that you dont even have to explain why they are evil in the first place other than they are the bad guys.

    So I doubt the US government is influencing any games at all, because they dont have to.

      wtf am I reading?

        He's pointing out the fact that the western world has continually pointed out supposed 'evils' such as Communism, Nazis (not that I'm disputing this) and has now added 'Middle East' to the list. He's saying the American Government is most likely not funding such projects to promote anti-middle eastern sentiment because the schema is already ingrained into society.

    Well that kill Osama mission is a good example of propaganda.
    Seeing Osama went to a US Military base for medical treatement, while being wanted for embasy bombings and wasn't held for anything.
    He was anything but healthy and would have died had he not recieved treatement.

    But you put out a story that your soldiers finally capture the worlds best hide and seek champion and suddenly the presidents rating go up, this goes on all the time across all nations nothing new.

    American Army is a recruitment tool to get yourng people to join the army, so just another propaganda tool no different.

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