The European Games just began, and this video game makes the host country look terrible

Screen Shot 2015 06 12 at 3.33.51 PMFIDHAn image from the game Real Baku 2015

Azerbaijan is hosting the first ever European Games in its capital city of Baku, and activists have used that spotlight to shine on Azerbaijan’s paltry human rights abuses.

According to Amnesty International, the Azerbaijani government is guilty of persecuting activists, journalists, lawyers, and anybody else who speaks out in opposition to President Ilham Aliyev and the government.

AI claims that “at least 22 prisoners of conscience are currently languishing in prison or in detention in Azerbaijan awaiting trial following trumped up charges ranging from fraud and embezzlement to abuse of drugs and even treason.”

These allegations have inspired designer and academic Pippin Barr along with the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) to create their own game that they hope will spread awareness about the environment in which the inaugural games are taking place, according to the website

The game is called Real Baku 2015, and according to Leigh Alexander of, it works like this:

“You decide whether you’re playing as a lawyer, a journalist or an activist, and against the bleak and simple palette, you select a competitive sporting event you’d like to perform. You must then attempt it inside a jail cell. The message is instantaneous and clear: to a political prisoner, these games are an insult.”

Screen Shot 2015 06 12 at 3.33.37 PMFIDHAn image from the game Real Baku 2015

Alexander explains that in every game you are given the simple task of either tapping your mouse or clicking your keyboard to make your “athlete” compete. But no matter how rapidly you click, your efforts are in vain.

“The game interfaces, timing you and counting your meager ‘points’, highlights the inevitable futility of your performance,” writes Alexander.

“For example, if you choose to compete in ‘swimming’ you’ll be splashing in your jail cell sink, the game always chortling DISTANCE: 0.0 at you no matter how frantically you click. Choose to compete in ‘boxing,’ and watch the game count up all your punches that never land.”

At the end, after you have thrown the shot put against the wall or sprinted around your cell a few times, the game invites you to share it with your friends on social media. It is a unique and effective way to communicate the injustice being experienced right now in Azerbaijan.

Click here to play the game.

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