Spanish Civil War, This Time Fought in Pixels

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A new video game that invites players to rewrite the course of Spain’s devastating civil war has touched a nerve in a country that is often reluctant to revisit its past, let alone play with it.

“Shadows of War” bills itself as the first video game based on the 1936-39 war, which erupted after right-wing forces loyal to Gen. Francisco Franco staged a coup against the elected Republican government. General Franco’s subsequent dictatorship lasted 40 years until his death in 1975.

The game went on sale in Spain on Thursday in the midst of a bitter debate about how to deal with the country’s past, prompted by a new law that would authorize reparations to civil war victims and ban monuments to Franco.Even before it hit the stores, the game drew criticism from both sides of the political spectrum as a divisive trivialization of a war whose wounds, for many Spaniards, have yet to heal.

Manuel Contreras, a columnist for the conservative newspaper ABC, said in an editorial that the game will “fuel political conflict and reinforce the split between the two Spains.”

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