Focused Series »

Indo-European Origins
Northern California
The Caucasus
Imaginary Geography
Home » Cartography, Imaginary Geography, Self-Declared States, Southwest Asia and North Africa

Future Islamic State Mapping and Computer-Game Cartography

Submitted by on September 20, 2014 – 11:41 am 3 Comments |  
Future Islamic State Map?As mentioned in the previous post, several maps purporting to show plans for an enlarged caliphate by the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL) have been circulating on the Internet. The oddest of such maps has ben posted here. As noted by Media Matters, this map “was reported on, a website run by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, … [and] appears to have originated in part from a video game called Victoria 2.”

Victoria 2 MapIn actuality, the map undoubtedly originated from a Victoria 2 base-map, as it is structured around the same idiosyncratic regional divisions used in the game; this can be seem by examining an actual map connected with the game, posted here. Apparently, an amateur cartographer has simply taken a Victoria 2 map and blackened in all of the regions that he (or, unlikely, she) envisages as future portions of an enlarged Islamic State. In doing so, the mapmaker reveals his own ignorance of the geography of Islam, as a number of important Muslim areas are excluded from the realm (such as Xinjiang in northwestern China), while a number of non-Muslim (and never-Muslim) areas are included, such as Burma.

Little is anything can be inferred about the visions of ISIS and its supporters from this map. Alex Jones, after all, is “often described as America’s leading conspiracy theorist,” according to the Wikipedia, and thus there is no telling where the map actually originated. I find the map interesting, however, because it shows the significance of game-oriented fantasy geography for perception of the actual world.

In general, I strongly support geography- and history-based games, as they can be a fantastic way for students to learn the basic structures of the world. Pedagogical scolds often tells us that learning basic facts is intellectually stultifying, as it relies on “rote memorization,” but the process can just as easily be accomplished from playing games, as long as the games in question are adequately connected to the real world. From what I have seen of Victoria 2, the historical mapping used in the game is sophisticated and relatively accurate. But that still does make it a serviceable base-map for geopolitical aspirations or fantasies. In the end, it is best to reserve gaming maps for gaming purposes.


Previous Post
Next Post

Subscribe For Updates

It would be a pleasure to have you back on GeoCurrents in the future. You can sign up for email updates or follow our RSS Feed, Facebook, or Twitter for notifications of each new post:

Commenting Guidelines: GeoCurrents is a forum for the respectful exchange of ideas, and loaded political commentary can detract from that. We ask that you as a reader keep this in mind when sharing your thoughts in the comments below.

  • SirBedevere

    Oh, this one is just so much fun. Are we to assume from this that ISIS is only interested in half of Istanbul, but that it is dedicated to the restoration of the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy? Those pedagogical scolds are the bane of my professional and parental existence. I am just glad that my daughter has been required to label maps and, I hope, will be required to do so again this year in her Human Geography class.

    • Yes, fun indeed. Glad to hear that your daughter is studying geography and labeling maps. Many students enjoy doing that.

  • JXMcKie

    The moron that made that map, the future extent of Islamic state, is sorely lacking in knowledge of islam, political geography and a lot of other things…Iran is shown (together with Yemen, Southern Iraq, all of Syria) as part of the SUNNI-muslim “nightmare caliphate” of IS, but those areas are strongholds of SHIA islam (which are regarded as heretics by IS and IS is regarded as heretics by the Shia´s). Also India and Burma are included…strange…more than 1 billion hindus (which happen to hate muslims) are just going to convert to Islam, just like that ? This nonsemap only serves to show, that just as some on the muslim side are moronic religious fanatics filled with conspiracy nonsense (its the western World and the Jews who are to blame for large part of the islamic World being povertystricken – eh, maybe it is muslims only fault – spending too much time fighting each other and the rest of the World – destroying instead of Building something up), we also have “our” conspiracy infatuated morons on the western side…! (and yes, you are so right…I like the Word moron to describe all those religious fundamentalist, though admittedly it is really an offense to truly mentally retarded people…they are a plus to humanity compared to religious zealots and conspiracy nutcases…!