Endgame: Syria

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Endgame: Syria Game Poster Image
Political events play out in one-sided, provocative game.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about the 2013 Syrian conflict and the challenges the Syrian rebels face in taking on the country's existing regime. Its virtual playing cards contain information regarding the sorts of sanctions, defections, donations, and political maneuvers that help keep the rebel movement alive. Other cards provide details on both sides' military assets, including militias, armored vehicles, and air units. Game events -- presented in text form -- describe the losses to civilian life, culture, and rebel support resulting from the player's actions. Outcomes are realistic, and players are never guaranteed a successful rebellion.

Positive Messages

This game is designed to teach players about the civil war in Syria as seen from the side of the rebels. Players learn about the challenges involved in achieving any sort of satisfying, lasting peace.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The game's rebels are an abstraction, depicted as groups of units on a card, making their capacity to act as behavioral models fuzzy at best. Their implied courage and resolve may be praiseworthy, depending on your politics and thoughts on war, but it also puts them in grave danger.       

Ease of Play

The mechanics are simple. Players simply pick cards and slide them over to the play area. However, picking the right cards to achieve a desired outcome can be extremely challenging. There is no way to completely avoid casualties, and the chances of an unsatisfying ending -- or even defeat -- are high.

Violence

The game describes violence in general terms. Text messages discuss military assets, assassins, and civilian tragedies, but no imagery is shown. That said, these words may have a powerful impact given that they describe events much like those currently taking place in Syria. 

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Endgame: Syria is a "news game" that attempts to help players better understand a current event through interactivity. Presented from the side of the rebels in the current Syrian conflict, the game's card-based action involves political and military movements, with players choosing whether to earn support from sources such as foreign diplomats and exiles and how to deal with attacks by the country's regime. Violence is described in general terms ("civilian tragedy!") rather than depicted via imagery, but the ideas at play here are fairly mature and best suited for older kids with a basic grasp of world politics.

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What's it about?

ENDGAME: SYRIA is a browser-based virtual card game based on events that are, at the time of this writing, currently taking place in Syria. Designed as a \"news game,\" it draws information from reputable news sources to create a simulation of the challenges faced by Syrian rebels as they attempt to topple the Assad Regime. There are two phases: Political and Military. During the former, players attempt to gain support by playing cards that represent actions such as foreign diplomats speaking out against the regime, exiles donating cash to their cause, and high-level government defections. In the military phase, players deploy cards depicting militia, civilian vehicles equipped for war, assassins, and other war assets. Each turn sees support for the cause grow or wane, as well as showing the effect an occurrence has on events, such as civilian tragedies and loss of the country's culture and heritage. The goal is to either depose Assad or reach a satisfying peace, but defeat or a tenuous peace are quite possible, too.

Is it any good?

Endgame: Syria isn't fun so much as it is informative. There are a few too many numerical card statistics to try to understand and keep track of, especially for a game that lasts under half an hour from beginning to end. Plus, it's often difficult to discern why some events and changes in support happen.

However, the game achieves its objective of giving players a better understanding of what the Syrian rebels are up against. Each turn, players read descriptions of cards and events that inform them of the ways in which Syrian rebels achieve and lose support, such as satellite intelligence and diplomatic maneuvers, as well as how regime and rebel forces stack up against each other. And with multiple possible outcomes -- many of them less than optimal -- players will come to understand what's at stake in this conflict.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about world affairs. What's happening in the world right now that interests you? Is there anything going on that especially concerns you, or a cause you'd like to become part of in some way?

  • Families can also discuss Syria in particular. What do you think of what is happening in this war-torn country? Did playing this game help you to understand what is happening?

Game details

For kids who love history and civics

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