In a war-torn city thousands of miles away, children who don’t share your language, religion, culture, or race are immersed in the same games you’ve played countless times in your own home, like Tekken, Mortal Kombat, and Super Mario Bros. The world these kids hope to escape, though, is much more harrowing than our daily annoyances.
Photojournalist Iason Athanasiadis visited an arcade in Kabul, Afghanistan to learn about the youths who have taken refuge in one of the capital’s dilapidated gaming centers, a small room with two rows of battered cabinets — some setups consisting of little more than computers attached to large CRT monitors and arcade sticks.
Athanasiadis gave us permission to share two photos that aren’t included in his profile of the makeshift arcade for The Christian Science Monitor. We’ve posted the images after the break with excerpts from the article:
“Tucked off a side street from the bazaar, the row of video game arcades is advertised by chugging generators pumping in power to an otherwise darkened neighborhood. Electronic music and raw sound effects fill the air.”
“‘We come here to play games and relax from street-begging,’ said Ubaydollah Sharafian, a 14-year-old street urchin too young to remember the reign of the Taliban, when all forms of visual entertainment were banned.”
“‘These are beautiful machines,’ said his friend, who claimed not to know his own name.”
“‘I don’t want this game to finish, I want to keep on playing forever,’ one young customer whispered as he stared at the screen.”
[First photograph and excerpts taken from this Christian Science Monitor article]