There is the inevitable weight when you fall into the world Liyla and the shadows of war. You play the game as Liyla’s father, jumping through the rubble, hiding behind a garbage can and fleeing Israeli bombs hitting the Gaza Strip. Your goal is to protect your daughter. But you can’t – no matter how many times you play, whatever you do. Unlike your typical mobile game and similar to the war itself, there are no extra lives, no superpowers and no victory.
“I saw a picture of a father carrying the body of his dead daughter. And I wondered, what if I can’t protect my family? What if it happens to me? “For Rasheed Abueideh, a 37-year-old father of four, this was not an exercise of imagination, but a very realistic possibility.
In 2014, a Palestinian software engineer watched from his home in Nablus as Israeli ground bombs and air strikes hit the West Bank, just 130 kilometers from it. That sparked an idea that scared him, an idea that could cost him his freedom: making a video game about the war.
“I live in Palestine, and if you do something that makes noise, you risk your freedom.”
He started his business in secret, taking care not to share anything on his social media platforms. He gathered a team consisting mainly of international members – so as not to endanger anyone. That was the beginning Lilac, A 20-minute mobile platformer / choose your adventurous mobile game influenced by artistic style and gameplay Limbo and according to some stories The last of us.
But Abueideh did not want to use his game as mere escapism: “Palestinians in the mainstream media are always dehumanized. Their personal stories are not covered, they neglect to exist, to have feelings, to live under attack and to have no rights like everyone else in the world. I tried to do something to stop it, ”he told WIRED in an interview.
Starting things in motion
Abueideh tries to let you know that the game is based on real events. This is the first piece of information you face when you start playing, and you feel it all while playing.
Many, if not all elements of the world Lilac they were modeled on photographs taken during the war and distilled into a very minimalist art style that relies heavily on silhouettes and is completely colorless, except for rockets and blasts. For Abueideh, the probability of reality was an essential part of his developmental process.
“People were actually killed. This isn’t just a game. It has a much deeper meaning. So by connecting all these images, I wanted to reflect exactly what happened and be able to convey the exact emotion of the person into that situation.”
Ebueideh, this very attempt to reflect exactly what happened was the biggest challenge. For the two years he worked on the game he had to read and watch recordings of the war over and over again, “Sometimes I literally cried while writing code or designing the game. It was hard,” Abueideh says. “The war lasted 51 days, and I repeated it for 2 years.”
In 2016, the year of its release, Apple wanted to re-categorize Abueideh Lilac in the App Store in the “News” or “Reference” category, not under “Games,” because of what he considered political messages. This caused a wave of player support, which eventually forced Apple to give in and show off Lilac as a game.