“I’m a hard-core believer that games can have the greatest impact. There are actual studies that the impact of games go further than films, documentaries or even books,” Khonsari told Al-Monitor. “We saw there’s not one video game based on real events. We saw an opportunity to help the entire media, to create a new genre.”
Besides being an educational tool, “Black Friday” has a lot of personal touches. You can find footage taken by Khonsari’s grandfather on a Super 8 mm camera dating back to the 1950s through 1980. “So when you’re doing an exploration of the house in the game, you come across the projector and you’ll see home movies that my grandfather shot. My first day of school, even my mom swimming in Shomal before they put the fences in.” After the revolution, the beach on Iran’s northern Caspian Sea coast was divided to separate the sexes.
One would think a game capturing the fervor of the 1979 Islamic Revolution would be well received in Iran, but it’s viewed with profound suspicion since it was designed in the West and doesn’t stick to the Islamic Republic’s version of events.
Fear and censorship
To develop the game’s storyline, Khonsari conducted over 40 interviews with a variety of Iranians both inside and outside of Iran who experienced the revolution firsthand. Some interviewees went so far as to provide personal photos of the events in 1978 and 1979. “They remain anonymous because of the concerns they might have for their own safety and the safety of their families,” Khonsari explained.