Salman Rushdie On How To Make Peace With Iran

Booker Prize-winning author and famous fatwa target Salman Rushdie has a simple solution for how one should liberate Iran, the country whose former Supreme Leader once issued a death sentence against the novelist. Rushdie puts his faith in Nintendo.

"I often think that the best way to liberate Iran is to just to drop Nintendo consoles from the air," Rushdie says, "and Big Macs." Rushdie (jokingly) explains his carpet bombing plan of smiles and sodium theory to web site Big Think in a new interview timed with the release of his recent novel, Luka and the Fire of Life.

Rushdie also offers his thoughts on the storytelling structure of video games, specifically open world Western Red Dead Redemption.

"I don't even pretend to understand what's going on really, but one of the things that's interesting about it to me is the much looser structure of the game and the much greater agency that the player has, to choose how he will explore and inhabit the world," Rushdie says. "That really interests me as a storyteller. I've always though that one of the things the internet and the gaming world permits as a narrative technique is to not tell a story from beginning to end [but]to tell a story sideways."

But Rushdie has his concerns about the medium, worrying that video games may be "eroding" people's appreciation of the printed story.

"There are legitimate concerns there and I worry also that there's a dumbing down factor," he says. "These games, they sometimes require lateral thinking , they sometimes require quite skilled hand eye coordination, but they're not in any sense intelligent in the way that you want your children to develop intelligence - to make the mind not just supple, but actually informed."

Salman Rushdie [BigThink]


    They said the same thing about television... and that hasn't made me any more dumberer.

      You got me in trouble for laughing at work.

        You get in trouble for laughing at work?! That's terrible!

    I think that's a fair comment- videogames typically aren't the best medium for dispensing information. sure, games can have setting and provide some information on unknown events- 15th century italian politics for one. But they're not great (in the main) for teaching or giving broader context.

      That's a pretty limiting statement - especially when you allude to one of the foremost examples of passive teaching in videogames, Assassin's Creed. The amount of information a player of AC soaks up about Crusades/Renaissance era architecture and politics is staggering, and the devs aren't even trying to teach - merely to entertain, to create a believable backdrop for their own little "Da Vinci Code" story (lol). Imagine what a team of archaeologists and historians could achieve with the same approach, given the same budget? And how good a teaching tool it could be if the player didn't need to pick out all the fictionalized "Templars v Assassins" stuff?

      'Screed really is the first interactive experience I can think of that has attempted to recreate a historical context with so much detail, and then had the guts to allow players to simply wander around in it. Sure, they embellish the truth for narrative effect, and this hurts the lessons learnt while playing, but the sheer immersiveness of the medium can't be dismissed as a teaching tool simply because it's only used for entertainment right now, can it?

        Completely agree with this. Especially the 'sheer immersiveness' part - the technology underlying video games can't be denigrated for not giving context when it allows the creation and maintenance of a very good likeness of historical 'reality'. The potential of interactive technology/simulation extends way beyond entertainment.

    It's a little unfair for a novelist with (as he says himself) virtually no experience with video games to compare them unfavourably with written stories. They're obviously different formats, and the lack of reading among yoof nowadays can't be blamed solely on gaming. It just strikes me as a populist, reactionary statement.

    That being said, I admire Salman Rushdie for his novels.

    I actually think he's pretty much right on target there. Keep in mind, he'll only be familiar with really mainstream games and those aren't 'intelligent' the way he's using the word. For someone who claims to not have any idea what's going on, he seems to be pretty clued-in. Telling a story sideways is a great metaphor.

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