Navid Khonsari wants to make honest video games. Not just games that say something about the world, but games that draw on real events and bring a documentary approach to an interactive experience. 1979 Revolution: Black Friday, the first title from his studio, iNK Stories, distills what was a pivotal event for the world and for Khonsari into a short, emotionally resonant game. “The 1979 Iranian Revolution is a defining moment in the twentieth century,” he says. “The rifts it started define what the Middle East is now and what the West is. At the same time, nobody’s actually talking about the experience of the people during those times. The moral decisions: who do you protect, who don’t you protect?”

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1979's inside look at the Iranian Revolution is but the tip of the iceberg in terms of what developer Ink Stories is doing here. It wants to use the medium of video games as a vessel to teach people about under-represented cultural histories, while remaining entertaining on a more basic level. Can a video game function as an educational tool without seeming like a pandering piece of "edutainment?" Can the medium's interactivity add anything to a piece of history usually told via film documentaries, photographs and non-fiction prose? Can it hook players who enter the title with limited knowledge of its subject matter? Based on 1979 Revolution, the answer's positive.

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Dork Shelf

Eric of The Whalecast and Navid discuss the challenges of making a video game that documents a specific era and the gameplay decisions that encourage players to engage with history. They also talk about the game’s re-release for iOS, as well as the reception of the game in North America and in Iran and how incorporating personal elements helps humanize the story.

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Shortly after its release in Iran, the country's government banned the sale of 1979 Revolution, a game that allows players to witness the unrest as a photojournalist. Created by former Rockstar Games developer Navid Khonsari, the title combines video games and documentary filmmaker for a first-hand look at the events in Tehran in the late 1970s. The Iranian government didn't think too highly of the project, as the National Foundation for Computer Games (NFCG) announced a place to block sites like Steam and others that were selling the game less two days after its April release.

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The Sebie

iNK Stories unravels the explosive political change during the 1979 Iranian Revolution through the eyes of a civilian photographer.

When the word Iran appears, what do you think of? Shallow references to Islam, the Middle East, or perhaps even terrorism? Many of us will never know and likely will never care about a country so distant and faraway. However, let’s not live under a rock and presume that the Middle East is as simple and contrived as mainstream media portrays.

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The Iranian revolution, which deposed the Shah, the nation’s monarch and turned the country into a religious Republic, broke out when Navid Khonsari was a young boy. During the early peaceful protests, he would accompany his grandfather in the streets, but as the confrontations grew more and more violent, he found himself confined to his home. A martial law was declared, curfews were imposed and schools were shut down. In the matter of a few months, he saw hope for change transform into chaos and violence. “Though I didn’t have the maturity to understand the politics of it, I could appreciate the emotions behind it,” he recalls. Eventually his family fled to Canada.

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Boston Globe

I’ve had my eye on “1979 Revolution: Black Friday” for a while. In 2014, I interviewed Navid Khonsari, the game’s Canadian-Iranian creator, about his desire to pull off an unlikely feat: a fun, deep, playable adventure game about Iran’s 1979 revolution, in which the US-installed shah was toppled by Ayatollah Khomeini.

The game came out in April, and I’m pleased to report that Khonsari and his studio, inkStories, mostly pulled it off. There are some rough edges, but “1979” definitely nudges narrative-driven gaming forward.

As the game’s promo materials put it, “1979 Revolution: Black Friday” brings players “into the brooding world of a nation on the verge of collapse. Play as Reza, an aspiring photojournalist, and make life and death decisions as you survive the gritty streets of Iran in the late 1970s.”

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International Bussiness Time

Iran has blocked the sale of 1979 Revolution: Black Friday in its native region after alleging that the choice-driven PC game presents "false and distorted information" regarding the 1979 revolution.

The narrative-based title from independent studio Ink Stories puts players in the shoes of a photojournalist and claims to present a "historically accurate" realisation of the uprising in Tehran.

Despite widespread praise for its depiction of the Iranian revolution, the country's video game supervising board – the Iran National Foundation for Computer Games (NFCG) – took action to block the game's sale from online retailers, such as Steam, due to what it described as "anti-Iranian" sentiments.

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Sky News

Iran has banned the sale of a video game which gives players the chance to take a first-hand role in the 1979 revolution.

1979 Revolution: Black Friday was created by an Iranian-born game designer Navid Khonsari and his wife, and has been praised for being historically accurate.

But it has been banned by officials in Tehran for being "Anti-Iranian" and "pro-American propaganda".

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Fox News

The Iranian regime has banned the sale of a video-game that gives players a first-person perspective of the 1979 Iranian revolution.

"1979 Revolution: Black Friday", which was created by an Iranian-born game designer and his wife and released back in April to acclaim for its historically accurate depiction of the Iranian revolution, has been banned by officials in Tehran for being “Anti-Iranian” and “pro-American propaganda.”

Navid Khonsari -- a former Rockstar Games designer who helped develop the popular “Grand Theft Auto” series says they will look for another way to get the games to the masses.

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Touch Arcade

1979 Revolution: Black Friday is set to release on iOS soon. The game is a unique experience as it's a narrative-driven experience taking place in the midst of the Iranian Revolution. You play as Reza Shirazi, a photojournalist who returns to Iran as the revolution against the Shah breaks out. You wind up having to make difficult decisions as the revolution goes on and you become involved with various participants in it. It's a unique setup for a game, and it's the first of similar projects that inK Stories Studio wants to work on.

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Pocket Tactics

I was a pretty small kid in 1979, so my recollection of the Iranian Revolution consists of hearing about hostages on the news and wondering where, exactly, Iran was. Nearly 40 years later, we can try to experience what happened on the streets of Tehran via a new adventure-style/interactive fiction title, 1979 Revolution: Black Friday. The game has been available for a couple months on Steam, but is coming to iOS in just a few weeks.

When iNK Stories first sent me the trailer for 1979, I thought I was looking at a new adventure game from Telltale. It has that vibe, although I didn't notice any annoying QTE buttons in the video. The game puts you in the shoes of a photojournalist on the streets of Tehran when the shit went down, as they say. Throughout the game you'll make choices just trying to survive on the streets. It looks gritty and harrowing, both in the action on the streets as well as in interrogation rooms.

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Game Informer

As long as I’ve been playing games, I’ve found those that take place in real-life historical periods to be among the most interesting. As a child, I lost many hours to the likes of Age of Empires and Titanic: Adventure Out of Time because they were magical doorways to epochs that had come before. They didn’t really educate me about the specifics of their respective time periods, but they got me to open history books and learn more about the past.

As the credits rolled for 1979 Revolution: Black Friday, an interactive adventure set during the Iranian revolution, I felt that same old urge stirring within me, and spent an hour reading up on the revolution that forms the context for the game. Black Friday is not edutainment or an interactive documentary, but is an adventure game centered around fictional characters in a real-life event. You play a photographer named Reza who returns to Iran after some time in Germany to find his homeland engulfed in political strife. Soon Reza is drawn into the conflict by friends and family and is forced to choose allegiances and determine the role he is to play in the revolution.

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Indie Haven

One of my favorite things about Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption is the feeling of history that surrounds it. Unlike so many games, you don’t have a stake in history or the ability to manipulate its future, instead the unyielding approach of the future feels like it is inevitably closing in around you. John Marston feels like a man out of time. With the railroads, winchester rifles, and the threat of the industrial revolution looming in the east, you get the sense that Marston is existing in an age of great change, even though he has little to do with that change. That is how most people experience history: they aren’t part of the game, or even on the sidelines; they’re simply spectators in the stands, watching the inevitable come for them. That is what 1979 Revolution: Black Friday does so well.

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Is it possible to keep your virtues in a time of crisis? Do you succumb to your innate anger in a snap decision, or stay defiant in the face of certain death? Who do you trust in a time where everyone is untrustworthy? Welcome to the questions you have to answer, sometimes in a few seconds, in 1979 Revolution: Black Friday.

Following in the footsteps of Telltale Games, indie developer iNK Stories offers something different, something grounded in harsh reality instead of focusing on zombies or Handsome Jack. Partially spearheaded by iNK Stories founder Navid Khonsari, an Iranian-Canadian former Rockstar Games developer, 1979 Revolution: Black Friday is a very personal project, one that Khonsari has dubbed a “vérité game,” an interactive documentary based on real life stories and anecdotes from the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The premise itself is promising, and has not been without controversy- Khonsari and most of his production team were banned from ever entering Iran for example, making the game have real-life consequences for its own developers.

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Paste Magazine

I. Videogames are always screaming about politics. Every Call of Duty game comes screeching out of the caves of Activision with a weird mix of heroic individualist libertarianism and a love of the military-industrial complex unparalleled in media. The Metal Gear Solid series is basically military fan fiction, pointing backward and forward in time to construct what could have been and what is to come with equal measure. Even our fantasies, be they of Witcher or Warcraftvarieties, are deeply embedded in a framework of watching political machinery function. If we take a long enough view of most game franchises, it all starts to look like different valences of The West Wing. Just like that beloved television show, these games all wear their political biases on their sleeves.

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Game Grin

Choices -- this is something that is touted in lots of adventure games these days, thanks to the Telltale System. You punch someone, it comes up saying “They’ll remember that”, and an episode or so later they will huff about that time you belted them. Usually that’s it.

So when I saw 1979 Revolution: Black Friday would require you to make life and death decisions, I was intrigued. What was more intriguing was the fact that it isn’t just the name of the game. In 1979, the country of Iran was in turmoil as the populace rose up against the Shah -- the ruling royal family. By all accounts, the country was being run similarly to a dictatorship: and speaking of all accounts…

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Lakeshore Records will release 1979 Revolution: Black Friday – Original Video Game Soundtrack digitally onMay 13, 2016. The album features the game's original score by Nima Fakhrara.

Called "A truly revolutionary video game," by The New Yorker. BuzzFeed says, "You're Going to Love This."1979 Revolution: Black Friday has already been featured in both videogame and mainstream press including NPR, BBC, Washington Post, and Time Magazine.

"The beauty of this game is that it has different points of views, the player chooses and explorers these views, its the players perspective not the game itself," explained Fakhrara. "The game itself has no political agenda, it's more as a platform to be a storyteller and also in some ways an educational avenue. My background of being an Iranian American brought a different approach to the musical ideas of this game. Been brought up in an Iranian family but being raised in an American culture allowed me to capture both worlds."

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National Post

I’ve learned a surprising amount about history from the video games I play.

Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed games have expanded my knowledge of famous ancient cities, including their architecture and cultures. Sid Meier’s Civilization series, with its expansive Civilopedia, has helped me to better understand the role of ancient technologies and political doctrines in the evolution of human society. Valiant Hearts: The Great War gave me a sense of what life was like during the First World War, from the terror of the trenches to the toll the war took on families who lived through it.

And now 1979 Revolution: Black Friday has taught me much I didn’t know about one of the most important and world-changing events of the second half of the 20th century: The Iranian Revolution. Chiefly, that it was complicated, involved an array of unavoidably conflicted factions, and was bound to end with the rejection of Western ideals.

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Gamereactor Spain

Debemos admitir que antes de escribir este análisis apenas sabíamos nada de la revolución que tuvo lugar en Irán a finales de los años 70. No aprendimos prácticamente nada al respecto en el colegio, a pesar de que algunos de nuestros compañeros hubieran tenido que huir de este país a consecuencia de la inquietud y los cambios que esta revolución trajo consigo. Aunque han pasado casi 40 años, se trata de un suceso histórico que aún afecta a la región, y sus efectos siguen teniendo consecuencias hoy en día.

Jugar al juego acabó por hacernos buscar más información y unir algunos puntos que antes se nos escapaban sobre la zona. Y es que, aunque el juego no te muestre el panorama completo, sí que despierta tu apetito por averiguar más.

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