By Kaamil Ahmed
JERUSALEM (AA) – A building is torn down by a missile, a drone strike hits and white phosphorus fills the air within moments of starting “Liyla and The Shadows of War”, a mobile game by a Palestinian programmer who wants to let players know what war feels like.
The game caused a stir last week when Rasheed Abueideh, from the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, was told by Apple that it would not authorize “Liyla” in its App Store as long as it was categorized as a game, because of its political content.
After criticism on social media, Apple reversed its decision and allowed the game to be published, but Abueideh told Anadolu Agency that he believed the company was trying to control the content and would have featured the game more prominently if the story was not about Palestinians.
“Liyla is a game about our life in Palestine and how much we suffer to protect our families,” said Abueideh, a father of two who makes games in his spare time.
Many of the scenes in the game emulate famous photos and events from the 2014 Gaza War, including when four Palestinian boys playing on a beach were killed by an Israeli missile -- one of the stories that inspired Abueideh to create the game.
He said he was shocked by the images he saw during the war and wanted to spread awareness by making the game “short, free and beautiful to make it playable by anyone”.
The frenetically-paced game thrusts players into the position of Liyla, a Gazan girl dodging bullets, missiles and crumbling buildings as she and her family run for safety.
“It will open the eyes [of the players], create awareness about the war. Many people do not think of us Palestinians as humans because of the mass control of the media in our world and I thought this is my chance to show that,” Abueideh said.