Konami's Six Days in Fallujah is a new, documentary-style video game set in the Iraq War. Developed by Atomic Games, the title is reportedly a commentary-free "game-amentary."
Set against the backdrop of the Second Battle of Fallujah, Six Days in Fallujah has gamers grapple with the weighty issues of war and difficult decisions it entails.
Not even out, the game is already sending mixed signals. While the developer says, "For us, games are not just toys," Konami states, "At the end of the day, it's just a game." Konami's VP of marketing, Anthony Crouts told The Wall Street Journal, "We're not trying to make social commentary. We're not pro-war. We're not trying to make people feel uncomfortable. We just want to bring a compelling entertainment experience."
Hence the quandary. Some of those directly touched by the Iraq War appear extremely sensitive. Former Colonel Tim Collins, a decorated Iraq War vet, stated, "It's much too soon to start making video games about a war that's still going on, and an extremely flippant response to one of the most important events in modern history. It's particularly insensitive given what happened in Fallujah, and I will certainly oppose the release of this game."
From a gamer's point of view, another Iraq War vet, Dan Rosenthal, who served in the U.S. Infantry, is critical of the desire to make a "realistic" war game. According to Rosenthal, "A 'realistic' war game is not going to be fun — who wants to play a game where you sit around doing nothing, punctuated by raiding the wrong house and tearing apart the home of an irate Iraqi family, or sitting around on a convoy until your vehicle gets hit by an IED and your character dies, with no clear enemy in sight? Who wants to play that?"
Continuing, Rosenthal adds, "I have worries that Konami, whose war game track record includes Boot Camp, Top Gun, Rush'n Attack/Green Beret, and of course, the wonderfully inaccurate Metal Gear series, cannot give the game the level of respect that it deserves." The Iraq War, he continues, is an extremely complex issue, and the Middle East is an extremely complex location." The war in Iraq is an incredibly complex topic; the Middle East is an incredibly complex location.
"I have major doubts that a company like Konami understands it enough to honour the memories of the soldiers around the world who have fought and died in Iraq," Rosenthal says. "It's not a great start that the Creative Director at Atomic Games is on the one hand talking about trying to "present the horrors of war" and on the other hand make 'entertainment'."
That's not to say Rosenthal is against making video games or even hoping to censor this Konami title. He's not. One of the things he thinks Call of Duty 4 did really well was using war as a backdrop. "It didn't reference the actual Iraq war, and didn't need to get into the politics behind it, and Infinity Ward was able to tell a story without getting bogged down," he says. This isn't possible in Six Days. "The game isn't set in some unnamed country, it's in Iraq, and it's not some 'unnamed city', it's Fallujah," he adds. "There's no way for them to avoid that they chose to place this game in a location where 20,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, reportedly over 6,000 civilians were killed, and over 150,000 displaced. Who is going to tell those stories?"
"One thing I'd like to make clear is that this is NOT an issue of censorship," Rosenthal says. "I will fight to the death to defend Konami's right to make this game... At the same time, I strongly protest their decision to actually do it. I think it is foolish, I think it's inappropriate, and I don't have very high hopes that they're going to do a good job of it. I'd love to be proven wrong."
All valid points from Rosenthal. Certainly it's only fair that whose connected to the actual War voice their support is disapproval of this game. Though, to also be fair to both Konami and Atomic Games, we haven't seen the game yet. All we've got is a few screens and miscommunication in a newspaper article. While we obviously don't have experience in the Iraq War and our relationship with it is largely indirect, let's wait until the game's out.