Gamers familiar with the extremely popular video game series “Grand Theft Auto” will be very happy to know that one of the directors of the series is creating a new game. These same gamers might then be very confused to find out that the game is not set in Vice City or San Andreas, but is in fact placed in Tehran, Iran, in 1979.
Navid Khonsari once directed and helped to create some of the bestselling games of the early 2000s when he worked at Rockstar Games. There he brought his passion for cinema into the virtual worlds, which many believe one can attribute the success of games like GTA and Max Payne. Now, Khonsari is hoping to bring his own heritage to the forefront of gaming by presenting a story wrapped up in the Iranian Islamic Revolution. For now the game is titled “1979” and the tagline is simply, “There are no good guys.”
Khonsari grew up during Iran’s Islamic Revolution, where in 1979 a hostage crisis broke out at the US embassy, and dictator Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was overthrown. Khonsari and his family fled to Canada after the fall of the shah. Later Khonsari moved to the West Coast to explore his passion for filmmaking which led him to Rockstar Games.
Now he has branched out on his own, creating the company iNKstories which has already produced two popular games; “1979” will be the third. Khonsari explains that at first players enter this world as an American/Iranian translator trying to save the embassy hostages. Once inside Tehran, however, the player changes to a student who has opposed the shah in protest, but does not like the way things are going. Now you must try to get a small militant group into Tehran.
Throughout the game the player is shifted between different characters with different gameplay styles and different motives. Many times a character must make a difficult choice which tests their morals, mirroring the good and bad that Khonsari witnessed while growing up during this treacherous time. Khonsari aims to bring the stylization and game techniques that made games like GTA so successful and mix it with history, and a new spin on what history even means.
Doubting to please everyone, Khonsari still believes creating such a historically significant game can not only be educational, but could force audiences to be alert to what the headlines say is the truth and what actually is. He even believes that “1979” could be the first of a series, which could go on to portray the goings on in Panama and Libya in the 70s and 80s as well.