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Can Video Game Makers Make Bin Laden's Death Fun?

Osama bin Laden: Would you buy a video game from him?
Video game makers are already rushing out games linked to the killing of Osama bin Laden. But in their rush to wring gold from blood they seem to have forgotten that games are supposed to be fun.

Which is odd given how much the raid that killed the world's most wanted terrorist played out like a first-person shooter: Navy SEALS flying stealth helicopters deep behind enemy lines, then rappelling into the super villain's compound for a battle to the death. Early press reports (later disavowed) that the President was watching a video feed of the entire attack as it happened just gave it more of a Counter-Strike feel to the whole thing.

Got there first... with the least
Kuma Games has so far been the most successful in its attempt to imitate life imitating video game imitating life. It's KumaWar Episode 107: Osama 2011 does indeed go all FPS. And for game play's sake KumaWar's bin Laden is much more spry than his real-life counterpart was purported to be. Still the "you are there" experience was somewhat blunted by having to watch an ad for Johnson's Baby Shampoo while the game loaded ... and loaded ... and loaded ... and ...

Maybe all that time is an homage to the 10 year hunt for Red bin Laden.

Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest said that the key to winning a battle was "to get there the first with the most." Despite releasing the game less than a week after the raid, Kuma still wasn't able to do the former and it doesn't seem anyone has done the latter.

A suicide-attack game... bombs
Six hours after the president's announcement, a Flash game called Mujahedin was uploaded to Newgrounds, a site featuring user-generated games and art, and for a while became the site's most popular game. Mujahadin lets you play as a suicide bomber recruited by a certain now-deceased terrorist leader. The game news site Kotaku said, it "appears to be a satire, making jokes about Bin Laden's commitment to Islam and the idea that Islamic fundamentalist terrorists believe their suicide attacks would merit them the company of virgins in the afterlife."
Probably the best way to go is to add bin Laden death-related content to already available games. To that end Counter-Strike now offers gamers the opportunity to play virtual soldier at bin Laden's compound in Pakistan.

While this rush to market may get most of these games a fleeting "bin Laden boost" similar to the one President Obama is enjoying, it's unlikely to last. (Kuma reports it has already gotten two million unique visitors since the launch last Saturday.) While notoriety can help sales a bit, you still need a good game to succeed.

Some ways to do it right
"Controversy did help Activision's Call of Duty franchise, particularly the games that involve current American wars, become a behemoth, setting record sales pace with each launch after starting off pretty modestly before 2007," said Jacob Mazel,a senior analyst for, which researches game sales. "The Tom Clancy games from Ubisoft, and the Medal of Honor / Battlefield series from EA are also somewhat tied to current events but the performance for each game is far more related to quality."

Which explains why Mujahedin's time at the top of the charts ended quickly. By the afternoon of its release, it had been bumped from Newground's Number 1 slot by an infantile cartoon video submitted by another user called Osama is Dead.

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