Video games represent a true luxury for most North Koreans living in a country where even the elite have only hours of electricity each day. That has not stopped a Western company in the capital city of Pyonyang from creating what may be the first North Korean game widely available online.
The game, called "Pyongyang Racer," is a simple Web browser game that allows players to drive a car around North Korea's capitol city of Pyongyang, according to Beijing Cream. Players must avoid hitting cars and collect gasoline in the form of petrol barrels to keep their run going as long as possible — all while getting warnings from one of Pyongyang's famously picturesque traffic girls.
"Pyongyang Racer" has an unusual development history as a video game. The North Korean programmers who made the game work for Nosotek, a Western company that describes itself as the "first western IT venture" in North Korea.
Nosotek's North Korean programmers previously made mobile-phone games based on the Hollywood films "The Big Lebowski" and "Men in Black." Those games ended up getting published through a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp (owner of Fox News), according to Bloomberg News.
Nosotek claims to have "attracted the cream of local talent as the only company in Pyongyang offering Western working conditions and Internet access." That would likely be true in North Korea, given the nuclear-armed country's pariah status among Western countries and businesses.
The Nosotek website also praises the advantages of working in North Korea because "IP secrecy and minimum employee churn rate are structurally guaranteed." Translation: North Korean programmers would likely never leave Nosotek with the company's intellectual property secrets because they have practically no other employment options.
Nosotek built the game for Koryo Tours, a company based in Beijing, China, to distribute "Pyongyang Racer" through the Koryo Tours website. Koryo Tours is currently the leading company that runs tours of secretive North Korea for Westerners and other foreigners.
"This game was developed in 2012 and is not intended to be a high-end technological wonder hit game of the 21st century, but more a fun race game (arcade style) where you drive around in Pyongyang and learn more about the sites and get a glimpse of Pyongyang," Koryo Tours said on the game's website.