A New Israeli Video Game Turns Bureacratic Hurdles Into a Quest

Two Bezalel graduates have made an Israeli student's quest to get a discount on his municipal property tax debt into a game.

Igal Shtukelman was having a rough few days. His girlfriend broke up with him, he failed his university exams, and his roommate Tzachi beat him 0-7 at Teken. So he did something any good Israeli student would do: he went to India for two months to clean his head and come back to finish his university degree in the right way.

On his return, however, he discovered that his lazy roommate had not left the Playstation since Igal went on his trip, and the pair now owed NIS 8,000 in property tax to the local municipality.

Igals tricky situation is the starting point for The Arnona Race (The Property Tax Race) a new Israeli quest game, which is the fruit of the labors of Alon Simon and Oren Rubin , two graduates of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem.

The day that the hero of the game finds out about the property tax debt, he goes to the local municipality and discovers that he is eligible for a student discount on the tax. In order to get the discount, however, he must present a number of documents and permits to the Municipality that very same day.

But the solution, which at first seems simple, turns out to be a nearly impossible task.

Rubin says that the game was initially the two graduates final project at Bezalel, but it is only now, two and a half years after the two finished their studies, that the pair managed to complete the game.

We wanted to make something very local, something that came out of Israeli experience, about experiences that everyone goes through, he says. We tried to include all sorts of characters of people that we had met in our lives.

The hero of the game has to pass the obstacles that all a number of colorful characters present him with, in order to get the documents and permissions he needs for the student discount. He also has to carry out various tasks taken from everyday life, which will be familiar to anyone who has ever rented an apartment in Israel.

Basically, its a kind of dream, Rubin says. As a child we played classic quests. We made this game kind of with the fragrance of games from the past. The golden age of quest games was in the 1980s and 90s, since then the genre has lost out in popularity to others genres, and to the increasing popularity of games on Facebook and iphone such as Farmville.

This new game is proof that there are still some fans of the genre out there.

Read this article in Hebrew

A still of the video game.