Kuma Games designer sentenced to death in Iran

A U.S.-born game designer has been sentenced to death in Iran, reports Gamasutra. According to a taped confession that aired on Iranian television last Sunday, Amir Mirza-Hekmati admitted to spying on Iran and contributing to games designed to sway public opinion in the Middle East about U.S. policy.

According to the excerpts, Mirza-Hekmati said, “After [working for DARPA], I went to Kuma [Games Company]. This computer company was receiving money from the CIA to [produce] and design and distribute for free special movies and games with the aim of manipulating public opinion in the Middle East. The goal of the company in question was to convince the people of Iran and the people of the entire world that whatever the U.S. does in other countries is a good measure.”

White House officials are still working on verifying accounts regarding Mirza-Hekmati’s death sentence, reports The New York Times. “If true, we strongly condemn such a verdict and will work with our partners to convey our condemnation to the Iranian government,” said National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor. “Allegations that Mr. Hekmati either worked for, or was sent to Iran by the CIA are false. The Iranian regime has a history of falsely accusing people of being spies, eliciting forced confessions, and of holding innocent Americans for political reasons. We call upon the Iranian government to grant the Swiss protecting power immediate access to Mr. Hekmati, grant Mr. Hekmati access to legal counsel, and release him without delay.”

Although Kuma Games has created less controversial titles, like The Dinohunters, or The History Channel’s Dogfights and ShoutOut! series, the development studio is best known for its free Kuma\War shooter series. In addition to the games being in English, the episodic content is also available in Arabic, Persian, and Urdu and are known for featuring more politically charged content. Most notable, is the "Assault on Iran" scenario, which charges players with destroying Iran’s nuclear arms capabilities.

Source: Gamasutra, Tehran Times, NYT