Iraq Laser Game Sculpted As Educator On Ancient Civilizations

Iraq Laser Game Sculpted As Educator On Ancient Civilizations

In a novel merging of the modern and the ancient, an Iraqi engineer has designed a new laser game around the country's rich history stretching back through millennia.

In the recently launched Basra Laser Tag, players fire infrared beams at each other with the aim of hitting laser-sensitive targets worn on opponents' body suits, in a game popular around the world and inspired by a United States Army combat training system that dates back nearly 40 years.

The laser game features images inspired by Iraq's ancient civilization designed to reach a young generation suffering from a lack of proper education, said its creator and civil engineer, Hassan Ali.

"My generation, I was born in 1994, let's say the post former regime generation, my young peers who are now 24 years old do not know anything about Iraqi history and they are not to be blamed for that. The reason is that they live in a state of chaos, let's call it defined by a deterioration of education and lack of cultural events and symposiums and a deterioration of the Iraqi archaeological and tourism sector. You rarely see a trip by young people in Basra or in Iraq in general to an archaeological site and there is hardly an archaeological Iraqi site that attracts tourist visitors," Ali said.

The walls of the game maze are also decorated with the wedge-shaped letter of the cuneiform script, one of the earliest systems of writing which was invented by the Sumerians. It also depicts drawings of the Sumerian harp and ancient hunting tools and techniques used by the early people of Mesopotamia.

"We intend to present Iraq's history to the people targeted by the game, those aged 10 and above, including all adventure-loving people, even if they are 60 years old. We provide an atmosphere where they can play and we present to them, as much as we can, glimpses from Iraq's history starting with the prehistoric Shanidar Cave and ending with the Islamic civilization. All these periods were represented in this hall, which is dubbed the Mesopotamia Hall and which is part of the Basra Bowling Centre," Ali said.

The 318 square meter game arena boasts images of important historical leaders including the Sargon of Akkad, who established the Akkadian Empire over 4,000 years ago, Hammurabi, who established the Old Babylonian state a few hundred years later, and Nebuchadnezzar, the famous Babylonian king whose rule dates back nearly 3,000 years.

"These are all part of Iraqi history and also Hulagu Khan, of course, to include kings who have impacted Iraq negatively. I did not want to deal only with the good part of Iraq's history and leave the bad part. We have to accept history as it is," Ali added.

Alongside the great leaders of Iraq's past, the game's walls show famous landmarks like the spiral minaret of Samarra Mosque, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Ishtar Gate and the Ziggurat of Ur, all designed to spark the imagination and inspire curiosity.

"Each player plays for 13 minutes, and after 13 minutes they will walk out with some knowledge of these (historical) figures, after standing beside it and firing at someone who hid behind. They will then start asking about names, and be told that this character is Nebuchadnezzar, and that one is Hammurabi, and then they keep that in mind and when they come back -- and definitely they will because it is a challenge game, and the player, be they a winner or a loser, will come back to play again, and if they do -- they will know more about Iraqi history."

The laser tag game is part of the newly developed Basra Bowling Centre, a $1.2 million project which houses a six-lane luxury bowling alley alongside a cafe and restaurant.