Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will Dishonor Those Who Served in Iraq

April 8, 2009 -

Just announced on Monday, Konami's upcoming Iraq War game Six Days in Fallujah is already into its third day of controversy.

Yesterday, GamePolitics reported on concerns expressed by several critics in the U.K., including a decorated former army colonel and the father of a Royal Marine who was killed in Iraq.

Today's interview with Dan Rosenthal is a little closer to home. Actually, make that a lot closer to home.

Dan (left) is a veteran of the Iraq War. He's a longtime gamer. He's also a law student and edits the excellent gameslaw.net blog, which we cite with regularity here on GamePolitics. I first met Dan at PAX 08. He attended GDC last month on on IGDA scholarship. So when he speaks from the heart about his war experience and his feelings about Six Days in Fallujah, I listen. As it happened, yesterday Dan and I interacted on Twitter about Konami's controversial game. Afterward, Dan was gracious enough to consent to this interview:

GP: Dan, when were you in Iraq? What unit did you serve with?

DR: I served in the U.S. Army, 3rd Battalion 124th Infantry Regiment... Our unit was based out of Florida with the Florida National Guard, but during our time in Iraq we were attached to several units... I arrived in Kuwait in February 2003, participated in the invasion of Iraq in March, and left around a year later.

GP: Where were you stationed for the bulk of your Iraq tour?

DR: During the invasion, we drove upwards through southern Iraq, helped secure the area around Nasiriyah, then moved northward and conducted operations out of Baghdad for the remainder of the time... If you've ever seen the movie Gunner Palace, that base was a few hundred meters away from our compound, a former Republican Guard general officer's quarters.  

GP: Did you see any combat?



DR: Well, we were an infantry unit, so that's pretty much what we were designed for. During the invasion we were assigned as security for various elements... and helped to screen and cover the advance northward.  Once we were in Baghdad, we did security patrols in the city, as well as provided escort security for other units as needed. So, as you can expect, we found ourselves in trouble a fair bit of the time.

GP: When did you return from Iraq?

DR: March 2004. When I left, I was midway through my sophomore year at Florida State University, and when I returned, I found that the university had removed us from the university roster, and that we'd all have to re-take the SAT and reapply in order to come back. I had to fight with the university, all the way up to the president and the Adjutant General of the state, before we were allowed back. That's when I first became involved with the Iraq War Veterans Organization, which I was a board member of for several years.

GP: And you jumped into law school when? Which school?

DR: Not until after I graduated and was out of the military, at American University, Washington College of Law in D.C.

GP: What are your gaming preferences? Have they changed since your tour?

DR: My gaming preferences have always been FPS games. I was a member of the development team for the Firearms mod for Half-Life, which eventually was acquired by Valve. I've always liked RTS games but I'm god-awful at them because I like to turtle and tech up, which never wins. I also like flight sims... and the Ace Combat series are still some of my favorite games. Since my tour in Iraq, I don't think my preferences have changed much, except for hating the Metal Gear Solid series, especially the 4th installment which I feel paints PMCs [private military contractors] in an unrealistically negative light.

GP: What are your thoughts on Six Days in Fallujah?
 
DR: 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? In order to make the game fun (it's a "game" after all), it simply has to sacrifice some amount of realism for fun factor.  When you do that with a war game based on a real war, with real people, you run the risk of dishonoring their memories and sacrifices, and I think that this game has a dangerous potential to do that.

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 war in Iraq is an incredibly complex topic; the Middle East is an incredibly complex location, and I have major doubts that a company like Konami understands it enough to honor the memories of the soldiers around the world who have fought and died in Iraq.  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". His own words. Or that the VP of marketing thinks that soldiers weren't "men" before the war.

Will this game recreate what I felt watching one of my close friends die less than 10 feet away from me? Will this game recreate my experience of being shot at by children? Will this game recreate the positive experiences of Iraq, the endless hours spent with community leaders to rebuild schools and hospitals?  ...The questioning of the reasons for getting into the war? Probably not. And let's be honest, who would want to play that anyway, even if you could?

But for a developer who claims to want to "tell the stories" of soldiers, there's a lot that they're going to leave out. They're certainly not telling my story. They're not telling the background to the story. They're not talking about how we got into Fallujah in the first place. They're not talking about Scott Helvenston, who was pulled from his car, beaten, lit on fire, and his corpse hung from a bridge, which prompted the first battle of Fallujah. So what stories are they telling? Just another war game?

One of the things COD 4 did really well, is it used war as a backdrop. The real story in COD 4 was the hunt for Zakhaev... 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. This issue is unavoidable 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. 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. 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. I'd love for this game to be a Medal of Honor, or Call of Duty. Hey, I'd even love for it to be Operation Flashpoint or Armed Assault (two of my favorite games). But I'm not holding out hope.

GP: Thanks, Dan.


Comments

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

People, people. This is a GAME. A video game created by Konami and Atomic Games for ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES. Everyone needs to understand that the story of our troops sacrifice in Fallujah is a good story. Reading a book, watching a documentary, or even playing a game about the events of the battle for Fallujah gives a person an insight to the actual battle. Whether or not it is completely accurate is irrelevant, if the person finds the book, movie, game interesting enough. Then they will go look into it for themselves to get the truth. Now. First, it would be very difficult for any game developer to tell ALL the stories revolving around the events of Fallujah. Second, as an avid hater of Blckwater, I will say that Scott Helvenston was a private military contractor and former Navy SEAL, the youngest in history, may I add. He was in an unarmored SUV without a light or heavy machine gun, anyway I don't want to go into the whole story because it is too long. My point is his story, as well as the other Blackwater contractors killed in this event, is irrelevant to the Maines story. Third, the Metal Gear  Sold series is an amazing GAME series. Thank you for your time.

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

In contrast, when I was confronted (multiple times) with the decision to shoot at a kid shooting at me, the decision had life-or-death ramifications for the kid, but also critical moral and spiritual decisions for me as a human being. "Is this OK? Should I be doing this? Will I go to hell if this happens? Is my life worth this? What about the lives of people around me?" None of these questions are raised in the game environment, because it's simply not real.

I won't debate there is a vast divide between really deciding to shoot a child and doing so in game, and some people will automatically think "game = fine = shoot".

Some people would have a problem.  Think harvesting little sisters in Bioshock as opposed to saving them.

 

The concept that this game will give insight into the kind of choice that will drive a person to kill themselves in grief and agony is misleading at best. Due to the medium, it CANNOT give that kind of insight. If the game didn't pretend that it could, it would be a lot less objectionable.

You are conflating "insight" with "full and detailed knowledge of every facet of the experience", something which does you little credit.

Saving Private Ryan, the beach scene, gave me an insight in to how it would be to try and charge up a beach with an entire army trying to stop you.  It certainly didn't equip me to do it, and I can't say "I have done it", and I don't know exactly what it's like to have half my head blown off, but I have an insight in to what those poor bastards had to do, what they went through.

I never said that it will give you the full experience including the emotional aftershock, but that isn't what insight means anyway.

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will Dishonor

This doesn't surprise me in the slightest, as it has gone on for years. M*A*S*H* for example was considered offensive because it was considered too soon. So was platoon, jarheads, etc.

It's not the message, or the medium, but the timing.

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

As were a few steve irwin jokes on South Park

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will Dishonor

Metal Gear Solid has never claimed to be a realistic military game.

It's basically a sci-fi espionage game with a war back drop.

I think nitpicking about "negative" view of the PMC's in a gamer where the world is brought to it's knees by an A.I., is a little unfair I think.

I mean, I respect his opinions and his service to our country. Godbless him.

 

I just find it odd that realism doesn't matter, but MGS is bad for not being realistic. I dunno. Ehh.

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

Critic #1: "Video games are just kids' toys and can't be taken as a serious form of creative expression."

Critic #2: "Video games are supposed to be educational and serious, otherwise they are just trivializing the matter."

Stick to one, already.

GameSnooper

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will Dishonor

Let's simple it down to two words;

 

Too soon.

 

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

Am I the only person thinking that they could do a really good game of this type if they just planned it properly, dumped the "shoot everything that moves" mentality and make it more of an RPG? 

 

As Dan said, much of the stress on soldiers was psychological, why not include a farenheit (indigo prophecy) style psychology system? You shoot a child (armed or otherwise) and you'd take a hit, you shoot an innocent & you take a hit, you take too long in enclosed and dangerous spaces and you take a hit. Take too many and you could get PTSD of some other form of psychological condition.

You could have various ways to relieve the stress, music, conversation with other soldiers, sleep, alcohol/medicine, prayer, having a wank, even something like playing an FPS in game. Enough of the good things and you feel human again, enough of the bad and you get nasty side effects that could make it much harder to survive the next firefight (like hairy palms if you've been wanking too much, makes the gun harder to hold & could promote weapon jams)

Hell making a custom character from the start could fiddle with the system a bit. For example someone who didn't care about killing children would take little or no penalty from shooting one but might lose the conversation with soldiers option because they all think he's a psycho. Likewise claustrophobia might make indoor fighting pretty interesting. Athiest soldiers wouldn't have the option to pray as a psych healing technique & religious soldiers might not be able to wank.

 

Seems like plenty of opportunity for a really interesting and at least semi-realistic portrayal.

 

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

I like where you were going with about the first half of your post, with the game tracking your pychological health, likely along with your physical health. Also, I like the way you tried to include some of the more mundane things that people might do to relieve stress.

I'm hoping that the guys working on this game are brainstorming similar ideas right now, and working to downplay the more action-oriented parts of gameplay.

However, I'm going to have to say that I'm joing Dan Rosenthal in not holding my breath, waiting for them to do so.

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will Dishonor

I think this pretty much explains what I might say:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TooSoon

 

And that people are just worried that it will portray the troops in a less than favorable light.

Personally, I just care about the game's release date.

 

 

--------------------

-------------------- Making sure I retain my INSANITY

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

Unfortunately our games are not treated with the respect that something this politically charged deserves. There are no games that I know of that will make a player have to shoot a child, nor any games that show pregnant women detonating IEDs to try to kill the player.

I will not buy securom games. http://www.wolvenmoon.com/sharedfiles/message1.jpg and http://www.wolvenmoon.com/sharedfiles/message2.jpg

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will Dishonor

I think what's ironic is probably everyone who complains that this game is in poor taste is probably a fan of World War II shooters, or other war based games.  It's kind of a slipperly slope, opposing games based on one war while consuming seemingly hundreds of games based on another.

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

 Hmm, I think I can agree with this interview for the most part. Although I can say what I would like to see in this game. I would want it to be sort of like Half Life 2, but taken even more to the extreme. From what I understand, there are actually very few firefights when you look at the ratio of a soldiers downtime to actually being involved in an active gunfight.

So less firing a gun, and more of the interactive story bits. There were similar bits in GRAW2 where you were in a convoy and it was ambushed and stuff like that. I can see the possibility of them doing something like COD4 where it's generally constant gunfire, but I really wish they would do something more like what I described.

Such as busting into an Iraqi families house, and as you leave you can have some dialogue between squad members discussing the ethics and whatnot.

I believe there was a recent article that had some discussion about 'fun' being a requirement for a game. I really don't think it is. I really really want a game where you are seriously questioning what you are doing, where you don't get the happy ending.

How awesome would it have been if at the end of COD4, you didn't get Zakhaev and you utterly failed? Sometimes things really are futile, and I can't think of a game where the ending is you completely failing the whole objective of the game.

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

So, is it perfectly alright to portray WWII "unrealistically" in games, but not Iraq?

What about all the millions who died in WWII and yet whose grand children happily fry Bonsai screaming Japanese with flamethrowers on COD:WAW?

You can't be upset about a game about the Iraq war and NOT about other wars because games aren't realistic - that makes you a hypocrite.

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will Dishonor

While I can understand why some people would be upset about the portrayal of PMCs in MGS4, I think it's important to remember that what's being depicted is a worst-case-scenario future, and the potential dangers of them.

That said, I think the Metal Gear series is awesome, and a great example of how to tell an amazing story through video games. I love its anti-war, anti-nuclear weapons themes, and the stealth nature of its gameplay.

As for "Six Days," I think due to the nature of a video game, it's very hard, if not impossible, to convey the true horrors of war through gameplay. The best game developers can do is add a moral system, like Bioware often does with its games. It will be interesting to see if the developers of this game try and do that in their own unique way, but somehow I doubt it.

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

Yeah this game will totally glamorise the whole affair, and consequently will be insensitive, offensive and all that jazz.

Also am I the only one who found the whole COD4 setting /story just kinda dumb and pro-war. Even though it wasnt based on a real war I just found the whole fight the com-arab-terrorist group thing so stupidly pro american in the redneck sense. I really hate to say things like pro-american but that game 's single just really ticks me off.

 

Fun Multiplayer though.

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

You do realize that you play the majority of COD4 as a British SAS soldier right, and that the Americans fail miserably and are mostly blown up in a nuclear bomb? I think that really is showing that America isn't invincible by any means.

-----------------------------------------

Managing Editor at TheBestGameSiteEver.com

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

yeah point taken. I was more meaning pro-american ideals, policy etc. rather than pro-America per say. You know I just mean the whole enemies being commie-arab-terrorists just felt like such a sterotypical American world view.... communism= evil, arab = evil, terroism = evil..... Western capatalist style democracy = good.

 

Mostly it was that awful enemie flag...... can't find a pic of it. but the one which was like a combination of the communist flag with the arab swords instead of the hammer and sickle. Just instantly reminded me of that McBane where he fights the Com-Nazis.

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

Actually part of the game, during a flashback...you did see the Sickle and Hammer. It was in the Ukraine in the Soviet Union, just after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. So yes...that was the old Soviet Flag.

The enemies never really were pro-Communist as much as they were Anti-western influence. In fact they were backing the Ultra Nationalists ( scary bunch. Right wing nuts. ) in modern Russia. Hell the game didn't even really protray the Arabs as the bad guys. I remember it as a militant leader seizing power with an army...and with the blessing and backing of an arms dealer/political manipulator associated with the Ultra-Nationalists in Russia. All on a gambit to drive out the west in a horrific attrocity.

Never really mentions Western Capitialists are good either. In the game: Marines screwed the pooch, and the SAS look like scary thugs (along with an epic moustache from Capt Price). Actually it was pretty damning towards everyone. Everyone acts like idiots and it is the SAS that cleans everything up :P

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

You cannot dishonour someone who has not done something to dishonour themselves.  You can slander them, shame them and bring them low in the court of public opinion, but you cannot take away their honour...

If the game is realistic, mebbe it tells a few too many tales that cut a bit too close to the bone.  Maybe it won't shine the brightest light on the forces of "goodness" as it were...  Seems a far more likely reason why everyone is up in arms about this but no one seems to have a problem with endless shooters where you get to plink away at German's, Japanese, Vietnamese or other "Middle Eastern Country guys".

The only other reason to fear these games is if they misrepresent what happened.  Remember the visceral feeling when the bomb went off in CoD modern war.  It was gritty, in your face, jaw dropping (almost literally) and your character actually expires.  People aren't afraid of in your face entertainment, your characters mortality dragged out and executed in front of your unbelieving eyes.  If you play a game where kids shoot at you, do you hesitate to shoot back because the are kids?

It's a confronting game and it's supposed to be.  It could give insight in to a lot of hard choices soldiers make in the field that people criticise while they are safe in their homes.  It's art.

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

You say "People aren't afraid of in your face entertainment, your characters mortality dragged out and executed in front of your unbelieving eyes.  If you play a game where kids shoot at you, do you hesitate to shoot back because the are kids?"

The point is, the inherent virtuality in games prevents that hesitation or decision from meaning anything. In contrast, when I was confronted (multiple times) with the decision to shoot at a kid shooting at me, the decision had life-or-death ramifications for the kid, but also critical moral and spiritual decisions for me as a human being. "Is this OK? Should I be doing this? Will I go to hell if this happens? Is my life worth this? What about the lives of people around me?" None of these questions are raised in the game environment, because it's simply not real. But for the soldiers who had to experience them, these questions linger for years and years, in some cases causing immense trauma and, in at least once case I was personally involved in, suicide.

The concept that this game will give insight into the kind of choice that will drive a person to kill themselves in grief and agony is misleading at best. Due to the medium, it CANNOT give that kind of insight. If the game didn't pretend that it could, it would be a lot less objectionable.

-- Dan "SWATJester" Rosenthal; Executive Director, http://www.gameslaw.net

-- Dan Rosenthal

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

But isn't that what the "games as art" movement wants? For games to be able to give that kind of insight? I agree with your points on Atomic Games sending mixed messages on the content of the game (is it a realistic portrayal or is it entertainment?), but I'm not sure that it can't be done. Sure, it hasn't happened yet, but there's a first time for everything. The medium has evolved so much since it's started, and it's still relatively young. Will Six Days be that game? Who knows.

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

You bring up a great point, and I think that's the point that Dan is trying to make that so many people are missing here.

I'm getting the impression here that if Konami is going to be portraying the horrors of the war, which involves kids shooting at you, there won't be a "Have a moral crisis" button. All you can do is either shoot or not shoot. If you shoot, it's going to look like Iraqi soldiers didn't think twice about it and just did it. If you don't shoot, I would imagine that makes the game a hell of a lot harder but again, it's not about living or dying for the soldiers, it was about what was morally right.

So hell yeah, I agree with Dan. If Konami expects to realistically portray some of the terrible moral crises these soldiers went through every day without portraying them as brutal children killers, it's a little questionable.

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

"You bring up a great point, and I think that's the point that Dan is trying to make that so many people are missing here."

That IS Dan you're responding to ;)

Well said.  Making a game set in the Iraq War, as opposed to WWII, Vietnam, Korea, etc.?  Alright, we use real world conflicts as the settings for our games all the time.  Claiming it will accurately relay the experience of the people involved in that conflict?  No, you're simply not going to be able to do that, and to claim such is disingenuous at best.

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

I think it can be done. I also think it won't be done, cause while it award worthy, it ultimately won't sell well, and would probably take alot more work (and time) that publishers wouldn't be willing to give the developers.

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

That IS Dan you're responding to ;)

Haha, oops... Now that you've replied I can't edit my post so as not to look stupid. Thanks.

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will Dishonor

Dan is a personal friend of mine, as he along with Awol and myself share the responsibility of running the ECA's DC/Baltimore chapter.  He's one of the greatest guys I have ever met and I consider it a pleasure to know him.  He's related to me a few of his experiences in Iraq, so considering all of that along with this interview and what Konami's game is supposed to be like, I have to agree with him on this.

The only thing I have to question, and Dan if you're reading this, please enlighten me, is why he takes exception to the negative portrayal of Private Military Contractors, which I'm assuming is the polite name for Mercenaries.  Having never played MGS4, I don't have any idea how exactly they were depicted in that game that he felt put them in a bad light, and I don't want to be talking out of my ass about something I haven't seen or played.  However, if it's anything like how action movies and TV shows have portrayed them, mercs have almost always been depicted as the bad guys.  When you have a group of people who owe no particular allegiance to any country or anything other than the almighty dollar, who follow their own moral code which can be seen as murky at best, and as such are largely prevented from being held accountable for their actions beyond their own agency, it's easy to have them viewed as the bad guys.  The character of Johns from Pitch Black and the mercenary outfit Ravenswood from Jericho (which was said to have been based on Blackwater itself) are just a couple of example off the top of my head.  Even games like the self-titled Mercenaries where they're the main characters depict them as amoral and unprincipled.  And real-life mercenary outfits like Blackwater do nothing to diminish that perception. 

So I'm a bit puzzled as to what Dan's saying here.  Are we to believe, then that outfits like Blackwater are being misunderstood and unfairly demonized and that they're not resposible for some of the things they're accused of doing?  That mercenaries aren't all bad and unscrupulous?  Because by and large that's the reputation they have.

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will Dishonor

Well, to start, you already have the wrong portrayal of PMCs. 99% of what PMCs do is logistical: repairing planes and trucks, driving supplies from point to point, cooking food. Most of my meals I ate during my second half of the tour were cooked by a PMC.

PMCs also do security. For instance, the base at Camp Doha in Kuwait, is guarded by DynCorp. PMCs do medical patrols. They do all sorts of things.

The concept that they are slaves to the almighty dollar is a blatant myth. Most PMCs are staffed by professional soldiers, largely from the US, who are sick of being paid paupers wages to do dangerous work. Blackwater, for instance, is largely staffed from former U.S. Army. Triple Canopy, one of the most elite of the PMCs, recruits almost exclusively from those who wear a "triple canopy", i.e. Special Forces, Ranger, and Airborne scrolls on their left arm.

These men are highly patriotic. All of them have volunteered at least twice for their country: once to join the military, again to join the infantry (a requirement for PMC recruitment). Then, typically again to join Rangers, SF, or some other special operations unit. And now they continue to serve, AT THE DIRECTION OF DOD, (extremely important to note), except instead of being paid $40,000 per year, the get $100K+. When you're putting your life on the line daily, that seems a fair wage.

Then again, I've worked with these people closely. I've been recruited for Blackwater (though school prevented me from joining). I know what these people are like, and it's NOT what Kojima portrays them as.

 

-- Dan "SWATJester" Rosenthal; Executive Director, http://www.gameslaw.net

-- Dan Rosenthal

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

Just a heads-up, if you're not watching it already...

The current season of 24 would make you pretty upset :(

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

I think you're missing the point of MGS4. PMCs weren't really potrayed all that badly in MGS4. With the exception of two incidents throughout the entire game they were potrayed as being no different from any solider and the game mentions the other roles of the PMCs that you yourself stated.. Hell Snake fights along two PMCs in the game, while the antagonists aren't members of PMCs themselves.

MGS4 doesn't potray PMCs negatively, it potrays the idea of having War as the pillar of the global economy as being a bad idea. And Kojima didn't come up with said idea. He just used it.

You don't the MGS series, fair enough. But don't go accusing it of something it didn't do.

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

Blackwater, in an attempt to clean up its tarnished image, is now calling itself Xe. 

Did you ever work with any of the folks involved with the Nisour Square incident? The one where 17 Iraqi civilians were killed by Blackwater operatives? Seemingly without provocation and while attempting to flee? If so, I'd love to hear your opinions on what working with those particular persons was like. 

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

I know the incident, but I did not work with anyone involved in that paricular incident. I've heard conflicting stories, though I think the consensus is that evidence shows that Blackwater was clearly in the wrong.

-- Dan "SWATJester" Rosenthal; Executive Director, http://www.gameslaw.net

-- Dan Rosenthal

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

This is strange to me, as I know of plenty of soldiers, some of which hate and others who love Metal Gear Solid. I think it has to do with your interpretation of the series' main theme. Either MGS can be viewed as a sympathetic look at the plight of soldiers in the modern world, or a heavy-handed, slightly anti-american protest of the atrocities of war. I disagree with his "inaccurate" comment, though. Kojima has even admitted that MGS4 doesn't accurately convey what real PMC's are doing in the Middle East. The point was to show how things could go wrong in the future, similar to 1984 or Brave New World.

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will Dishonor

This guy hates on metal gear, and I'm suposed to take his opinion seriously?

He says "games shouldn't be realistic"

"I dont like metal gear because its unrealistic"

ummmm.... right. Moving on.

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

He said pretty clearly he didn't like Metal Gear because it was negatively unrealistic, not just normal unrealistic.  And he highlighted the fourth one more than the others.

 

-- Obi

-- Obi

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

I didn’t miss the context, I am aware of what he said. I shall quote:

"Since my tour in Iraq, I don't think my preferences have changed much, except for hating the Metal Gear Solid series, especially the 4th installment which I feel paints PMCs [private military contractors] in an unrealistically negative light."

"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."

"A 'realistic' war game is not going to be fun"

Allow me to clarify: (Metal Gear 4 Spoilers below)

1. The Metal Gear Solid series is one of the greatest epic stories ever told in the video game medium. I will refrain from listing the reasons here, but suffice to say Hideo Kojima has created a form of art that cannot be replicated in film or on paper. He has created a definitive video game.

While this game is excellent, it does play a neat trick on you by mixing the plausible with the inexplicable. During the course of the game this makes for excellent story telling. It makes things that would otherwise seem completely alien much more feasible (such as the gecko or the Metal Gear its self).

Metal Gear portrays a near future where the PMCs are controlled by the Patriots and by Liquid Snake's group. The negative light they are portrayed in is a result of them being controlled by the 2 (completely fictional) antagonist groups in the game. I think you will all agree that games, in general, require antagonists. The PMCs in MGS are also completely fictional, they use armored robots, they control war across all countries, and obey an overlord skynet style computer AI which perpetuates war in order to generate revenue. What part of that is realistic? At what point am I supposed to say "Well all this other stuff about PMCs is fiction, but I believe the part where they are all jerks"?

To be blunt: I truly don’t understand how we can say "OK giant robots, that’s fine, its fiction no problem!" and then turn around and say "Hey that guy tried to kill me and he’s in a PMC! They are portraying PMCs in a negative way!"

This problem is not Mr. Rosenthal's alone, but rather a problem we all face constantly from every direction. This is the same problem people have with RE5 and any number of other games: The inability to separate fact from fiction.

2. The wall of text above is only to prove one small point. If you can dismiss such an excellent piece of art as the Metal Gear series because it paints the line between realism and fantasy, in such an eloquent way, then I have a problem taking your opinion seriously on games. Specifically, I can’t take your opinion seriously on a game that has not come out yet, that will probably feature a mix of realism and fantasy, and will probably portray someone as the antagonist.

 

EDIT: Let me also add this: If the primary concern is that this game will suck, and therefore do a disservice to the people who fought in the battle, then I am completely with you. Chances are it will suck; most games now days do. However, if it does, I simply won’t buy it. (I probably won’t buy it anyway)

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

I have a hard time determining if you seriously can't see the difference between "a negative portrayal of giant robots" and "a negative portrayal of PMCs". 

One is real, the other is not. 

No one is going to play the game and say "wow, giant robots suck, look at this shit they're pulling here!", but it's far more conceivable for someone with no exposure to PMCs (read: most gamers) to play MGS4 and say "wow, PMCs suck, look at this shit they're pulling here!"

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

I am serious; and you do make a good point. However, you have to consider the difference between rational people and idiots.

You and I can tell the difference between PMCs and Giant Robots. We can also tell the difference between real PMCs and Metal Gear PMCs.

We can tell the difference in a game about a battle and an actual battle.

I think that I understand your point, and I agree with you. People could be given a negative idea of PMCs or Giant Robots or police or whatever by playing a video game.

My point is that if you take what happens in a fictional game as fact, then you need a reality check.

Mr. Rosenthal is completely correct that some people will form a negative opinion of PMCs based on MGS. However, those people are fantastically uninformed and willing to base their opinions on nonsense. These people cannot be helped. You cannot make a video game that will cater to the lowest denominator; that game would be complete mush.

Or are you telling me that you would like publishers to only make mush games that offend no one, have no antagonists based on real groups, and never step on anyone’s toes?

Or is it just you don’t want the publisher to step on your toes?

I have to disagree with Mr. Rosenthal's dismissal of "Six Days." Even though I agree that it will probably be tasteless and sucky. The merits of a fictional game should not be determined by how it portrays groups of real people. Let the fiction stand on its own. Does it tell an interesting story, are the characters well developed and motivated, is the soundtrack compelling, is the cinematography clean, etc.? If the game is indeed tasteless and sucky then people will not buy it (or at least they shouldn't).

I appreciate that Mr. Rosenthal has not cried “Ban!” Clearly he has thought about his position and realizes that it is not his place to inflict his opinions on others through legislation. However, protesting its release is still implying that your feelings should be placed above those of the consumers. Just because you don't look to the government for assistance does not change that you are seeking to bypass capitalism and enforce your feelings on the market.

Please just consider if you are saying: "Never offend anyone with the games you make" or "Never offend me with the games you make"

Edited for typos =)

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

"Mr. Rosenthal is completely correct that some people will form a negative opinion of PMCs based on MGS. However, those people are fantastically uninformed and willing to base their opinions on nonsense. These people cannot be helped. You cannot make a video game that will cater to the lowest denominator; that game would be complete mush."

No, those people are not "beyond help", and they're not "willing to base their opinions on nonsense"; they're willing to base their opinions on the only information they're given.  PMCs aren't exactly something that the average person is exposed to in their daily lives.  In fact, of the few instances I can think of where PMCs have been depicted at all, in my experience, it has been negatively (stereotypical "mercs").

The average person knows that PMCs are real...and that's about it.  So in the absence of any other information, it's not illogical for them to believe the only information they're given.  They know giant robots are fake, but that doesn't mean everything in the game is, or that nothing in the game is based on real-world sources (which, of course, they are).  How is the average player supposed to know "this is the part of the game that is accurate, and this is the part that isn't"?

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

The average person knows that PMCs are real...and that's about it.  So in the absence of any other information, it's not illogical for them to believe the only information they're given.  They know giant robots are fake, but that doesn't mean everything in the game is, or that nothing in the game is based on real-world sources (which, of course, they are).  How is the average player supposed to know "this is the part of the game that is accurate, and this is the part that isn't"?

 

You have restated your previous argument but have not addressed my questions:

Even if I grant that average people may be negatively misled by the content of a game that does not address the crux of the issue as I stated before:

 

You cannot make a video game that will cater to the lowest denominator; that game would be complete mush.

Or are you telling me that you would like publishers to only make mush games that offend no one, have no antagonists based on real groups, and never step on anyone’s toes?

Or is it just you don’t want the publisher to step on your toes?

 

 

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

I addressed a statement you made that I believe to be false =P

As for your question, you're treating the situation as if it's completely black and white.  There is a whole spectrum between flatly demonizing a real group of people in the name of producing "edgy" antagonists, and making a completely "mush" game, as you call it.

Believe me, I am totally in favor of reducing publisher influence on developers, especially in the name of being politically correct.  But I also understand how someone who has had first-hand experience with a particular group or demographic (PMCs, in this case) being upset when a game (or a movie, or a book, or a song, etc.) portrays them in an unrealistic (or unrealistically negative) light.

Did I say MGS4 shouldn't have been made?  No, not once did I say that or anything like it.  I think games that upset people aren't automatically devoid of worth.  But just as we ask that developers be given the right to make any kind of game we want, we have to allow that any particular person in the audience have the right to be offended by the content of said game.

I think it's reasonable for him to be offended in this case.  I don't think the game should necessarily care if it offends him.  No one's calling for anything to be banned, just stating opinions...

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

I addressed a statement you made that I believe to be false =P

As for your question, you're treating the situation as if it's completely black and white.  There is a whole spectrum between flatly demonizing a real group of people in the name of producing "edgy" antagonists, and making a completely "mush" game, as you call it.

Believe me, I am totally in favor of reducing publisher influence on developers, especially in the name of being politically correct.  But I also understand how someone who has had first-hand experience with a particular group or demographic (PMCs, in this case) being upset when a game (or a movie, or a book, or a song, etc.) portrays them in an unrealistic (or unrealistically negative) light.

Did I say MGS4 shouldn't have been made?  No, not once did I say that or anything like it.  I think games that upset people aren't automatically devoid of worth.  But just as we ask that developers be given the right to make any kind of game we want, we have to allow that any particular person in the audience have the right to be offended by the content of said game.

I think it's reasonable for him to be offended in this case.  I don't think the game should necessarily care if it offends him.  No one's calling for anything to be banned, just stating opinions...

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

stupid double post argh >_<

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will Dishonor

You missed the context completely. He said a completely realistic game on the Iraq War wouldn't be fun because the reality of the war was the farthest thing from "fun".

www.gameslaw.net

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

I've put a great deal of thought into why WWII games work so well and games about Vietnam, for example, don't. I don't think time is the main factor. I think it helps, but it is still not what makes WWII playable.

WWII has several turning points that can be done in video games. They can be expressed fairly clearly in levels such as "storming the beaches of Normandy," "storming the beaches of Pelelieu," "Operation Market Garden" or even "The Battle of Stalingrad." Many of the aspects of WWII that were seen through the eyes of most soldiers are really hard to convey in a video game, such as sitting in the rain, in a foxhole on Okinawa, in the dark, covered in mud and surrounded by rotting corpses. ("With the Old Breed" by E.B. Sledge). Those are hard to show, but can be overlooked since that is not what nearly every soldier saw and there were often times that can translate into gaming.

WWII was fought in so many different places with so many different things going on that we can find smaller conflicts that are very unique and can be shown fairly easily.

Think about other wars and what you would do in a game:

WWI: Sit in a muddy foxhole, get gassed, then charge blidly into no-mans-land and get shot.

Korean War: Sit on a hill and aim artillary at other hills to blow them up. Try to retreat when the Chinese hurl wave after wave of soldiers at your hill in vain attempts to make you run out of bullets.

Vietnam: Trudge through the jungle, get ambushed.

Desert Storms: Bomb everything that looks Iraqi or is making a run for the border.

Iraq War: Break doors down, demand guns or other weapons, apologize for breaking the door, leave. Do it again until you leave in a jeep and your jeep is blown up by an IED.

 

Other than in the first several months of the war when we were still fighting the Iraqi military, the Iraq war was confusing, frustrating, and had few objectives, goals or other clear ways to show conflict or give a sense of achievement. Marine snipers were faced with difficult situations where they were not allowed to shoot someone who was obviosly an enemy, simply because they didn't have a gun at the time. Soldiers walked through destroyed neighborhoods for hours before suddenly being in firefight that ends almost as quickly and unceremoniously as it began.

Maybe they could do a game about the Battle of Falujah, but like Rosenthal said, "I don't have very high hopes that they're going to do a good job of it."

-----------------------------------------

Managing Editor at TheBestGameSiteEver.com

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will Dishonor

It'll dishonor the soldiers who killed 17 and injured 70 unarmed civilians for wanting a school reopened? the soldiers who lied about the use of WP?

Yeah, it's a game that'll dishonor the soldiers who served in Iraq, not the dishonorable actions of the soldiers themselves.

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will ...

That's not his point. He's offended that a company is claiming to portray the battle in a realistic manner, from the soldiers' point of view, which he feels is impossible to do in a game.

Will the game even address the issue you're talking about? Not from what I've heard it isn't. Then this would be a completely different discussion.

But war is war. People do awful, terrible things to each other in every war. Blame the assholes who put the soldiers in that position in the first place, not the soldiers themselves.

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will Dishonor

So basically just because it's "a game" it's dishonorable?

BIAS MUCH?

I've watched movies and read books that dishonor war more than any of the Americas Army, Call of Duty, Medal of Honor games.

Is he actually implying that he has more respect for an Oliver Stone movie on the Vietnam War that the respect he would give to lets say Call of Duty 1 which handled three different countries soldiers in a very respectful manner?

Sorry, I'm calling BIAS against games.

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will Dishonor

"Sorry, I'm calling BIAS against games."

Then you're calling it wrong. Learn to read.

www.gameslaw.net

Re: Gamer War Vet Fears That Six Days in Fallujah Will Dishonor

What's disrespectful about an Oliver Stone Vietnam movie? Criticism does not equate to disrespect; in fact it can be the highest form of respect.

-- Dan "SWATJester" Rosenthal; Executive Director, http://www.gameslaw.net

-- Dan Rosenthal
 
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MaskedPixelantehttps://hmv.ca/en/Search/Details?sku=763440 Real life Metroidvania.11/28/2014 - 8:33pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/nov/25/lee-rigby-report-internet-firms-safe-haven-terrorists-pm wow... come on uk really?11/28/2014 - 2:39pm
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.nintendolife.com/news/2014/11/two_tetris_downloads_to_be_removed_from_the_3ds_eshop_in_europe Tetris to be removed from the 3DS VC at the end of the year in Europe. Other regions unknown, but will probably all happen too.11/28/2014 - 9:16am
Andrew EisenThe story you just linked to? The story you asked if anyone had seen? Yes, THAT obnoxiousness. I've heard it parroted for nearly two years now.11/27/2014 - 7:57pm
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Matthew Wilsonthere is vertical fov, not just horizontal fov11/27/2014 - 6:38pm
Andrew EisenWell, you can widen it to 3:1 or even 10:1 but I don't know why you'd want to. From what I understand it's the missing visual info at the top and bottom that some object to, not that there isn't enough on either side.11/27/2014 - 6:36pm
Matthew WilsonI think it widenss the fov, so you get to see more.11/27/2014 - 6:31pm
Andrew EisenI don't see how as doing so would not add any visual information to the top or bottom of the screen.11/27/2014 - 6:04pm
Matthew Wilsonfrom what I read, getting rid of the black bars and stretching it out made for a better play experience.11/27/2014 - 5:59pm
Andrew EisenFrom what I hear, there's a ton of "look up and shoot at the guys above you" stuff in the game that the wider frame doesn't accommodate such actions well.11/27/2014 - 5:55pm
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Matthew WilsonI kinda hope this is not true. http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2014/11/nintendo_might_not_be_making_more_gamecube_controller_adapters_at_the_moment11/27/2014 - 1:34pm
Matthew WilsonI saw that. I wish people would stop preording, but sadly that will never happen.11/27/2014 - 1:26pm
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