Azeri Video Game Promotes Killing of Armenians

In the video game “İşgal Altında: Şuşa” (Under Occupation: Shusha) a player fights as an Azerbaijani soldier. (Screen grab from official game trailer)

Video Game Revisits Nagorno-Karabakh War


The first-person-shooter video game “İşgal Altında: Şuşa” (Under Occupation: Shusha) was developed by 19-year-old student Farid Hagverdiev. The game, in which the shooter must free the town of Shusha from Armenian and Nagorno Karabakhi forces, is being promoted by the Azerbaijani government.

Just over 20 years ago, during the spring of 1992, Armenian forces captured the city of Shushi in Nagorno-Karabakh, marking the turning point in the armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan for control of the territory.

Today, youngsters in Azerbaijan have the opportunity to alter history via a video game called “Under Occupation.” The objective is to recapture Shushi from Armenian forces. Gamers assume the role of an Azerbaijani soldier who engages in virtual firefights with Armenian soldiers in house-to-house combat. The game is the brainchild of Farid Hagverdiev, a 19-year-old student at Baku’s State Oil Academy.

Hagverdiev based Under Occupation on popular first-person, shoot-‘em-up games, such as Call of Duty and Counter-Strike. Working with a team of developers recruited from among his classmates at the oil academy, he said the game took two years to go from rough concept to finished product. Hagverdiev added that the development team relied on self-financing (with generous parental subsidies), used home computers, and relied on a trial-and-error creative process. It is reportedly the first video game developed solely by Azerbaijani citizens.

Hagverdiev acknowledged that the motivation for developing the game went beyond a simple desire to entertain. There was also a political element to the project. “By creating the game we wanted to support the patriotic spirit in our youth, which I hope we accomplished successfully,” he told The game, which can be downloaded for free, has gotten a successful reception from Azerbaijani gamers.

While the video game may have been an independent initiative, government officials have latched onto it, viewing it as a means of raising awareness about the Nagorno-Karabakh issue among Azerbaijani young people, and of mobilizing support for ongoing governmental efforts to recover the territory.

In a sign that the game enjoys the full approval of President Ilham Aliyev’s administration, the Ministry of Youth and Sports organized a formal presentation of Under Occupation. The event, which occurred earlier this summer, was held at the Hyatt Regency, one of Baku’s swankiest hotels.

Talks on a political settlement for Nagorno-Karabakh have long been stalemated. In recent years, Azerbaijani rhetoric concerning the territory has grown increasingly bellicose. The video game dovetails with the government’s effort to keep the patriotic mood at a slow boil.

Under Occupation is not for the faint of heart: there’s lots of killing and computer-generated gore. To a great extent, it’s a celebration of violence: to advance, players must handle a variety of tasks, including shooting lots of Armenian enemies, rescuing a wounded Azerbaijani soldier, retrieving a document and blowing up a building in the town of Shushi.

The game’s scenery closely resembles to Shushi’s actual appearance. Prominent landmarks, including the House of Culture, the Govhar Agha Mosque, Vafig Mausoleum and the city gate, all make an appearance. Although born after the city’s capture by Armenian troops, and the subsequent expulsion of Azerbaijani residents, Hagverdiev managed to recreate the city by relying on old photographs.

Whether or not the video game can have a tangible effect on the Karabakh peace process is the subject of debate. Some experts doubt that a video game can cause a substantive spike in aggressive sentiment in Azerbaijan. “Not enough research is available to suggest that shooter games promote any more active hostility than the current events themselves,” said Tom Parker, a former policy director at Amnesty International.

Hagverdiev and his fellow developers, meanwhile, are now contemplating a new game-related venture, one that would aim to make them some money. “We’re graduating college soon, and we do not wish to mooch off our parents forever,” he said.


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  1. Avery said:

    {including shooting lots of Armenian enemies,}: how nice. Who wouldn’t want to live under the benevolent stewardship of the Terrorist State of Azerbaijan, currently under the benevolent dictatorship of Sultan Aliyev the Second.

    And yes, Azerbaijan is a Terrorist State: what else do you call a State whose official aviation minister threatens – more than once – to shoot down civilian airplanes that might fly between Yerevan and Stepanakert. Right – civilian airplanes.

    And if young Farid Hagverdiev wants to make his Armenian-killing video game realistic, he needs to incorporate Chechen volunteers, instead of Azeri troops, . Chechen fighters were the last to leave Shushi. Azeri troops had long ago ran away like rabbits, while Chechens fighters were still retreating under the blows of the Armenian Dashnak battalion, as they were liberating our Shushi from the invaders.

  2. Kevork said:

    Azeris lie about their absent nationality, their absent history, their absent culture, and now even the video game they make is a lie, since its end result is the opposite of what happened in real life. Go figure.

    I guess since you don’t have the huevos in real life, you can take to a video game and live out your fantasy of being valid in a computer.

    One wonders if this video game is even worse for an Azeri’s self-esteem, since they are killing Armenians in the computer and capturing a land which they are no longer a part of in real life.

    On another note, the Atlantic also published an article about this game, and in my opinion it should be ashamed of itself. Check this:

    It is titled as if they are promoting it, and it is normal to kill Armenians. The ANCA should do something about this. This is like alqaeda making a video game about suicide bombing Americans, or neo-Nazis making a game about wiping out Jews. Of course we know that the editor of the Atlantic is a Jew himself, and probably a racist one at that, which explains the publication. Leave it to a terrorist country like Azerbaijan and their clownish racist supporters to promote this type of primitive, lowly behavior.

  3. said:

    Why do we need to help spreading this Azeri Turk propaganda by reprinting a Gurdgistani biased source? The Turks are getting smarter and inserting their garbage propaganda via “neutral” media.

    Armenian forces did not “capture” Shushi – they LIBERATED this ancient Armenian capital from Turkish army that shelled Stepanakert and the surrounding Armenian villages with Grads!

    The conflict was NOT between Armenia and Azerbaijan for the control of this “territory” – it was a fight for survival and freedom by Artsakh citizens against the Azeri Turk yoke!

    As for this pathetic privileged boy whose parents could afford to get him into the most expensive university and away from the horrors of Azeri Turk army – dream on, loser!

  4. Hrant K. said:

    Shushi and Aghri have become their nightmare, next stop is Barda, Nakhichevan, Kantzag,
    SungHayutian (“Sumgait”) and their artificial Capital Bahagakount…!

  5. DW said:

    This is just a video game guys. Take it easy guys. I can understand why the people of Azerbaijan are mad. Your people pulled of a sneak attack on Azerbaijani territory (Nagorno Karabagh), expelled 1 million Non-Armenian inhabitants and massacred 1000 people via the Khojaly and Armenian warmongers have endless plans to wipe off their neighbors because they think since their neighbors are Muslims and Armenians are the quote on quote “1st Christians”, Armenia has a right to bully their neighbors, satanicze everything Turkish, Azeri, or even some cases, Georgian (despite common religion), and manipulate other nations via the ANCA to plot to snitch more lands from 2 or 3 neighbors. Endless Armenian warmongering territorial demands : A FACT. BOTTOM LINE.

    • Avery said:

      Your mind is trapped in a video game pal.

      NKR is not Azerbaijani territory: it is historic Armenian land, previously occupied by the fake
      state of ‘Azerbaijan’ (a name stolen from Iran),

      Azerbaijan militarily invaded NKR in 1991. NKR’s indigenous Armenians threw out the invaders and liberated historic Armenian lands.

      There are no 1 million Azeri refugees: the number is 600,000 IDPs: including 200,000 children born to IDPs in 20 years. We feel for the Azeri civilians: but your leaders started the war, with the intention of ethnically cleansing and exterminating the 75% Armenian population of NKR. (used to be 95%: Azerbaijan SSR ethnically cleansed Armenians down to 75% in 70 years)

      500,000 Armenians in Azerbaijan fled with nothing. 170,000 Azeris living in Armenia left for Azerbaijan. They took their wealth with them. RoA Gov compensated about half for their real estate.

      In Sumgait (1988), Kirovabad (1988), Baku (1990) your Azeri government organized massacres of Armenian civilians: hundreds were murdered. Women were gang raped and mutilated.

      Khojali: Azeri official figures are about 600 killed (highly suspect number). Some were killed when they were caught in crossfire between fleeing cowardly Azeri troops who used Azeri civilians as human shields and Armenian troops. Some were killed by mistake by Azeri troops. There was no massacre.

      Siege of Stepanakert: Azerbaijan military completely sealed off Stepanakert and bombarded civilian targets for months: a war crime. About 2000 Armenian civilians were killed. Including hundreds of children.

      And finally: we Armenians have been in the South Caucasus for about 5000 years. Your Oghuz Turk ancestors left their homeland in East and Central Asia and invaded the homeland of my ancestors about 1000 years ago. Ethnically cleansed indigenous Armenians and other indigenous peoples (e.g. Tats, Talishes, Udins, Lezgins, Zakhors, Luitsis, Avars)

      • bigmoustache said:

        he knows what really happened, why bother correcting him…these people only understand strenght and force.
        with neighbors like this just remember, keep your gun clean and ready at all times. thats what it means to be an armenian living among turks

    • Setta said:

      Your “bottom line” is ludicrously absent any “fact.”

      Until Stalin gave those lands to the Azeris in the 1930s in one of his ethnic-on-ethnic manipulations, they had been part of historical Armenia for millenia – as was Nakhichevan.

      The Armenians peacefully demonstrated and subsequently voted for independence from Azerbaijan which had for 50 years engaged in egregious discrimination against the indigenous population. Before the war began – during the pogroms against the Armenians that occurred in Sumgait and Baku – an Armenian in Baku killed two Azerbaijanis in self-defense – an act that in any other country would have resulted in the perpetrator being arrested and held for trial. The Azeri response was to expel 300,000 Armenians from Azerbaijan and invade Artsakh to take by force that to which they never had any right in the first place.

      The Khojaly “massacre” is an urban myth. The Armenian military consistently left open a civilian corridor for the Azeri population to flee from areas of continuous fighting. The Khojaly villagers themselves testified originally that the Armenians left them a way out of the village. What actually occurred is the villagers panicked and spread out into two different directions – both of which were in the line of fire. As many if not more civilians were killed by Azeri soldiers as by Armenian soldiers. It was a tragedy born from confusion in the firestorm of a battle – not a massacre. The former President of Azerbaijan confirmed the villagers’ testimony – a revelation for which he was rewarded by being overthrown and expelled from Azerbaijan by Heydar Aliev. Two Azeri journalists who investigated and also confirmed the above facts were both assassinated by agents of the both the elder and younger Aliev governments.

      Your nonsensical insinuation that Armenians have antipathy towards Muslims ignores the fact that until the recent sectarian violence, the Armenians – who live in Iran, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Syria, and Iraq – have never had any problems with Muslims – Sunni or Shia. We co-exited peacefully with the Muslims in their villages and city neighborhoods.

      What is obvious from the inaccuracies in your comments is your own antipathy towards the Armenian people. The US is the only government the ANCA lobbies as is their Constitutional right as American citizens to do so. Our relations with Georgia are normal – for comparison, please note the recent comments made by the Belgians and Spaniards towards the Germans. Your assertion that three million Armenians are bullying 70 million Turks – with the second largest military in the world, including a stockpile of 50 NATO nukes – and the Azeris – for whose petroleum and gas reserves the US and UK governments are willing to sell their national souls – is laughable.

      The only warmongering has come from Ilham Aliev, for which he has been criticized or condemned in varying degrees by the international community – including Secretary Clinton.

  6. Zareh said:

    Where is the Western “liberal” media, where is CNN condemning this type of hate games. Where is Hillary, where is Obama.
    I feel so deceived for having voted for Obama four years ago.
    If Satan was running against Obama I would vote for the Satan.

    • said:

      Be careful or you’ll get what you are asking for. He IS running…

      Seriously, fellow Armenians, I wish we all realized way earlier – there is ONE party running America. This is the party of the super rich and privileged, and smart… they figured out that if the “split” into two different camps and pretend there are “liberal” and “conservative” wings, they can fool you forever.

      It is all run by big corporations, sorry, “persons” according to their new laws. And you are meant to be their slaves and play this game of “rats” vs. “repubs” while they are laughing their heads off on their private islands and arranging royal weddings for their children.

      Since Armenia is in the way of their plans to transport “their” Caspian oil, all Armenians are their enemies. CNN, Fox, Obama, Hilary, etc. are their SERVANTS.

  7. Hrant K. said:

    DW or Dum from Waco or Deli Wahshi(from Turkey): Who started the Pogroms in Sumgait, Baku, Kantzag and the rest of Bazarbaijan? And who expelled 600,000 Armenians out of their homes. There is no azeri territoty called Nagorno Karbagh , it was, and is, and will remain an Armenian Enclave named Artzakh, in this case an Independent
    Republic. Besides your cheap accusations and attempts to create communal and inter-religious hatred are far too obsolete. And the satanic try to create conflict with our northern neighbor is useless. It is you, who are fanatic, and think or assume,that everyone else should be alike! We have been over it, even after the Genocide DW!!!

  8. Ray said:

    Has anyone complained to Hyatt for holding such an event? I did. The name of the CEO is Mark S. Hoplamazian.

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