Game set in Gaza Strip released despite controversy
Liyla and the Shadows of War, a game that tells the story of a Palestinian father and daughter in the Gaza Strip, is now available for Android and iOS.
Apple initially refused to categorize Liyla as a “game” arguing that the “news” or “reference” categories would be more appropriate.
The plot centers on a father who attempts to protect his daughter while journeying to a safer location in the war-torn Gaza Strip. Players must avoid bombs and drones and make life or death decisions in order to keep the pair alive. The game also depicts real-life events from the 2014 assault on Gaza, including the killing of four boys playing soccer on the beach. Liyla ends with informational text about the 2014 Gaza war.
Rasheed Abueideh, the game’s developer, told Palestine in America that he was not surprised by the controversy surrounding his game. In fact, he said that he had expected Apple to completely reject his app regardless of category.
However, only a few days after Abueideh was asked to revise the app category, Liyla was released on the App Store as a game. Abueideh credits the support of the gaming community for Apple’s change of heart.
“If the community did not help, I think they would have never changed that,” he said.
Gamers expressed their support for the game and their dissatisfaction with Apple’s initial decision on social media and gaming websites. Liyla was alsonominated for two awards in the Indie Prize Casual Connect before the game was available on the App Store.
For Abueideh, a Palestinian father of two, Liyla is a deeply personal game that he hopes will help players around the world understand the plight of Palestinians. He purposely made the game short and free to encourage as many people as possible to download the app.
“I’m a father of two kids, so when I see another father carrying his dead child between his arms I get emotional. So I decided to do this, to do this game, to share these feelings to other people around the world because they do not hear or see what we experience here in Palestine because of the control in the media. So I tried to send this message to everybody,” Abueideh said.
So far, the game has high ratings on both the App Store and Google Play. Abueideh is encouraged by the reception that Liyla has received worldwide.
“I have very positive feedback from all over the world, from China, from Japan, from Europe, from America. All of them are crying after playing the game. This is exactly what I needed to hear. This is the feedback that I needed to hear because all of us were crying after this war. So I tried to put the player in the position of the father who lost his kids. So, the feedback was a gift to me, and I hope more players can try this experience,” he said.