Truman National Security Project Offers Web Game Exploring the Ramifications of a U.S. War with Iran

October 18, 2012 -

The Truman National Security Project plans to launch a browser-based game this week that explores the United States' political and military involvement with Iran, according to a report in Defense News. The group describes itself as an institute that recruits and trains progressives to lead on national security issues.

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Former Rockstar Developer Working on 1979: The Game

February 17, 2011 -

Navid Khonsari, a former writer and director for Rockstar Games, is working on an interesting game that retells the real story of the 1979 U.S. Embassy takeover in Tehran, Iran. Khonsari is responsible for the "cinematic feel" introduced in Rockstar's breakout hit, Grand Theft Auto 3, and for his work on Remedy's Max Payne series and Alan Wake. After leaving Rockstar, Khonsari formed Ink Stories with his wife in New York City.

Speaking to Russia Today (interview on the left), Khonsari said that he wants to tell the story of the Iranian Revolution with a focus on the U.S. Embassy takeover that ultimately led to the Iran Hostage Crisis. Khonsari wants to tell a deep story based on different perspectives from a multitude of playable characters:

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Could Games Actually Help Avert Civilian Causalities?

April 7, 2010 -

In response to this week’s leak of a video that appears to show U.S. troops in Iraq shooting civilians, an article on Slate examines how videogames could possibly assist in preventing such tragedies from happening in the future.

WikiLeaks spokesperson Julian Assange said about the video, “The behavior of the pilots is like they're playing a video game. It's like they want to get high-scores in that computer game.” And indeed, the Slate piece notes the similarities between the leaked footage and missions in both Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (pictured) and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

Slate offers the following interpretation of Assange’s quote:

To be fair, Assange's point is more subtle than that. He's not saying American gunners mistakenly shoot innocent men because they grew up playing video games. He's suggesting they do so because the killing itself feels like a game.

The author then assesses his own assessment:

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Video of U.S. Troops in Iraq Draws Comparison to Games

April 6, 2010 -

Leaked video of U.S. troops in Iraq shooting civilians that were mistaken for insurgents caused a WikiLeaks spokesperson to compare the footage to a videogame.

The footage in question, which can be viewed here if you have yet to see it (warning, it is graphic) shows a pair of Apache helicopters circling a group of people on the streets of New Baghdad in July of 2007. A Fox News report states that the choppers were responding to reports of AK-47 fire in the area. The group of 9-12 people included a pair of Reuters journalists.

U.S. troops apparently mistook cameras and photography equipment for weapons and eventually open-fired, killing an undetermined amount of people, including the two Reuters photographers. A Pentagon spokesperson called the attacks justified and told Fox News that, “The individuals who were killed, apart from the Reuters journalists, were involved in hostile activity.”

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Six Days in Fallujah Completed

March 3, 2010 -

Atomic Games President Peter Tamte indicated late last year that his company was “committed” to finishing the controversial Six Days in Fallujah videogame and it appears he has remained true to his word.

A story on IGN, citing a “source close to the game’s development,” reports that the game has been completed, though a release date for the game, or publisher, was not disclosed.

Konami had initially backed the project and was going to serve as its publisher before a series of negative public reactions to the game became public. The families of military personnel wounded or killed in the Iraqi war, and even some soldiers themselves, believed that it was too soon for such a game to be released, as the war was still ongoing (and indeed still is today) at the time of the announcement.

Other groups expressed dismay over the project due to heavy civilian losses reported in the real fight over Fallujah. Additional reports that insurgents may have helped contribute to the game’s development did nothing to lessen the controversy surrounding the title.

Konami eventually bailed on Atomic Games and Six days in Fallujah in April of last year, citing negative reactions to the game.
 

Thanks Andrew!

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Iraq War Vet, Halo Gamer Succumbs to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

September 1, 2009 -

…another in an occasional series of reports about gamers who gave their all:

Jacob Blaylock wasn't killed during his tour in Iraq, but a pair of his close buddies were. After he rotated back home, Blaylock, like so many other combat veterans, struggled with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. In a moving report, the Indianapolis Star chronicles Blaylock's troubles and eventual suicide:

Blaylock was known as a more than competent soldier in Iraq, a popular guy who smoked three packs of Marlboros a day and played the video game "Halo" to relax between the many missions logged.

After his death, family members came across a blog entry written by Blaylock:

I am well past gone. I don't care what anyone says, cause they just don't know. They don't understand, and I can't expect them to. I want to remember. I want peace. I want to be happy. All I want to do is live.

The New York Times has a much more detailed report on Blaylock's downward spiral, including gut-wrenching video footage.

GP: Why do we cover these stories? Because this generation of gamers has suffered war like none before it. We hope to honor their sacrifice.

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Surveying the Use of Video Games as Propaganda

August 24, 2009 -

Bruce on Games takes a look at the video game as propaganda.

While blogger Bruce Everiss concludes that games have generally been ignored for propaganda purposes, he argues this is because government officials are basically old school types:

The reason we have been left alone is quite obvious. Games are just another media, albeit a technically superior media. But the people with all the power, the politicians and journalists, don’t realise this because mostly they just don’t understand video games at all. We see this in the way they blame video games for violence in society when the opposite is true. And now that ignorance is protecting video game players from propaganda.

GP: we're not so sure we agree, given that a new issue-oriented Flash game pops up about once a week on the web.

At any rate, Bruce has identified a list of propaganda games. Among others they include several PC mods produced by Islamic extremists, the Religious Right's Left Behind, and the Defense Department's controversial America's Army, of which Bruce is clearly not a fan:

America’s Army is the big one. A series of games designed to foster the American Army view of the world on an unsuspecting public and also to work as a recruitment tool. This has been a remarkable success at promoting gung ho American militarism.

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Six Days in Fallujah Publisher: "We're Surrounded"

August 6, 2009 -

"We're surrounded... We have been badly wounded..."

Those were among comments released by Six Days in Fallujah developer Atomic Games as it announced layoffs today. The company is apparently in financial distress due to the game industry downturn as well as its inability to secure a publishing deal for the controversial Iraq War game.

Gamasutra has more from Atomic's press release:

In the words of Marine officer Chesty Puller, 'We're surrounded. That simplifies the problem...

We wish to assure the dozens of Marine veterans who have collectively invested hundreds of hours in this project that, while we have been badly wounded, we will fight on. The stories of your brothers' courage and sacrifice in Fallujah must be shared with the world.

So far, it is unknown how many of Atomic's 75 staffers were let go.

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Xbox Live's Major Nelson Visiting Troops in Baghdad

June 13, 2009 -

Larry Hyrb, aka Major Nelson, is currently in Baghdad.

The Director of Programming for Xbox Live tipped readers to the surprise 10-day trip in a blog post on June 7th:

I am a few hours away from stepping on a plane for the first leg of my journey to Baghdad, Iraq for the Iroq-Band competition taking place next week. I am honored to be asked to support the event, and I am looking forward to meeting many of service men and women that are Xbox LIVE members...

 

With all of the travel and security involved in this trip, my online time... will be extremely limited... I want to warn you that I’ll be unusually quiet (which I am sure won’t bother some of you) during my radio silence. 

Major Nelson arrived in Iraq on Wednesday. Despite the heavy security of a war zone, he has been providing numerous updates via Twitter. Some of his recent tweets give the flavor of the experience:

It takes you back when the staff where we are staying have sidearms and automatic weapons.

 

Taking a scenic tour of downtown Baghdad aboard a Blackhawk heli.

 

Apparently I slept through a mortar attack last night. No one was injured.

 

Seems like Xbox 360 is everywhere on this base. The only thing they don't have is LIVE due to the poor connectivity.

 

Most popular games on the base? Rock Band, Halo, COD (any of 'em) and all sports games.

The pic at left is from the Major's ride-along with a Blackhawk sortie over Baghdad.

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Six Days in Fallujah Debated on Fox News

June 11, 2009 -

On Fox and Friends this morning the debate over Six Days in Fallujah is back in the news.

Joining host Gretchen Carlson are Atomic Games president Peter Tamte, retired USMC Capt. Read Omohundro, an advisor on the project and Tracy Miller, who lost a son in the Fallujah fighting.

Via: Kotaku

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City Sued Over Shutdown of Controversial Video Game Exhibit

June 9, 2009 -

The New York Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the city of Troy, New York and its Public Works Commissioner suppressed free speech by shutting down a controversial video game exhibit in March, 2008.

GamePolitics readers may recall our extensive coverage of the politically-charged situation surrounding Iraqi-born artist Wafaa Bilal. His Virtual Jihadi exhibit employed a modded PC game which included a mission to blow up then-President George W. Bush. Bilal said that the exhibit was intended to express his view that U.S. policy in Iraq helped create terrorists.

Bilal, a U.S. citizen and a faculty member at the Art Institute of Chicago, was invited to display his work at Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute in Troy but was abruptly ordered off campus after the school's College Republican Club raised objections to the game. Bilal was then offered space to display Virtual Jihadi at a nearby gallery, the Sanctuary for Independent Media.

The gallery, however, was suddenly shut down for building code violations by Troy's Public Works Commissioner, Robert Mirch (left). Mirch, who is named as a defendant in the suit, had earlier led a demonstration protesting the exhibit. He called the suit politically motivated.

The Albany Times-Union offers comment on the suit from Melanie Trimble of the NYCLU's Capital Region Chapter:

City officials cannot selectively enforce building codes to shut down an art exhibition they find distasteful. Mr. Mirch abused his authority to suppress the free speech rights of people he disagree with, an unconstitutional act that must be challenged.

According to the Times-Union report, the NYCLU seeks a court order to block the city from using its building code to infringe on civil rights. The suit also seeks damages on behalf of the non-profit which owns the Sanctuary for Independent Media as well as for the gallery's executive director. The NYCLU has posted a press release on the suit.

DOCUMENT DUMP: Grab a copy of the complaint from the NYCLU website...

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Politically-influenced Clover Launches on XBL

May 11, 2009 -

Clover, an Xbox Live Community Game being developed by Binary Tweed has now launched. As GamePolitics reported recently, the story which unfolds in Clover was heavily influenced by the run-up to the Iraq War.

In fact, Binary Tweed calls the game a "watercolour political platform puzzler," and those are four words you don't hear strung together very often.

From the Clover press release:

Already in the hands of some early-bird gamers, the true nature of Clover's political plot is becoming clear. “It's been great to read emails from gamers who have picked up on the historical and political references - if Clover has one objective, it's to make people think.” commented Binary Tweed's Deejay. Heavily inspired by the events preceding the 2003 Iraq war, the game invites players to draw their own conclusions from unfurling events.

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Does Six Days in Fallujah Timeline Nix Claims That War Vets Brought Game Idea to Developer?

April 28, 2009 -

By now everyone knows that Konami has dropped Six Days in Fallujah like it was radioactive.

But One Last Continue has assembled a remarkable time line on the IP, indicating that the idea for the game was submitted for trademark less than four months after the battle ended. According to Austin Walker of OLC, Destineer - which later acquired Six Days developer Atomic Games - applied for the mark on February 4, 2005. There's no mention of Konami until April 5, 2009 - more than four years later - when the company was announced as the pubilsher of Six Days.

What we find fascinating about these bits of info are their contrast to claims that veterans of the battle came to Atomic, essentially demanding that they create a game based on their Fallujah experiences. Such claims were used to some extent to buttress Six Days against charges that it was insensitive to Iraq War veterans and their families. Moreover, claiming that real combatants were behind the game would surely be a marketing plus as well.

For instance, in the very first article on the game - just before the controversy exploded - the Los Angeles Times reported:

The idea for the game... came from U.S. Marines who returned from the battle with video, photos and diaries of their experiences. Instead of dialing up Steven Spielberg to make a movie version of their stories, they turned to Atomic Games, a company in Raleigh, N.C., that makes combat simulation software for the military...

Today's warriors are more likely to pick up a game controller than a paperback. "The soldiers wanted to tell their stories through a game because that's what they grew up playing," said John Choon, senior brand manager for the game at Konami Digital Entertainment in El Segundo, the publisher of Six Days in Fallujah.

But if the game was already in the planning stage shortly after the battle concluded on December 23rd, 2004 who's kidding who?

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Troubled by Controversy, Konami Drops Six Days in Fallujah

April 27, 2009 -

News has come from Japan that Konami is dropping plans to publish Six Days in Fallujah, the controversial Iraq War game based on the bloody 2004 battle.

Quoting an unnamed P.R. rep, Asahi Shimbun reports that negative reaction to the game in the United States drove Konami's decision:

After seeing the reaction to the videogame in the United States and hearing opinions sent through phone calls and e-mail, we decided several days ago not to sell it. We had intended to convey the reality of the battles to players so that they could feel what it was like to be there.

North Carolina-based Atomic Games is developing Six Days in Fallujah in association with some veterans of the war. It seems likely that the firm will now seek a deal with a new publishing partner.

Six Days in Fallujah was plagued by negative publicity from the moment that it was announced last month. Family members of war dead denounced the game in both the U.S. and U.K. And while some gamers who are Iraq War veterans expressed an interest in playing Six Days, others were outraged. Dan Rosenthal, who publishes the GamesLaw blog and who fought in Iraq, told GamePolitics:

In order to make the game fun... 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.

Perhaps the most damning piece of news about Six Days in Fallujah, however, was a developer's cryptic comment that Iraqi insurgents were contributing to the project.

Via: VG247

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Six Days in Fallujah Reminds Writer of GoW... Euro Release in Question

April 15, 2009 -

The controversy over Konami's Six Days in Fallujah rages on...

Nick Breckon of Shacknews attended Konami's recent Gamer's Night and offers some observations about the much-discussed Iraq War game:

It was apparent that Six Days is not aiming for a very realistic take on modern warfare... considering the extensive marketing on the point of realism, I certainly didn't expect to see soldiers running out into the middle of the street during a firefight, taking a half-dozen bullets in the chest, and then regenerating their health safely behind cover...

 

In fact, from what Konami showed us, Six Days is far closer to Gears of War than America's Army. It has the same Gears D-pad weapon selection, the same style of cover system, and the same action-oriented gameplay...

Meanwhile, Joystiq reports that the flap over Six Days in Fallujah may keep it from being released in Europe:

During Konami's Gamer's Day in Frankfurt last week, unnamed representatives for the publisher told GamePro.de that they were waiting to see how Atomic Games would portray the brutal battle for Fallujah before deciding if the game would see a European release. Representatives also told De Telegraaf that it was unclear what the level of violence would be in the "documentary-style" shooter.

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Insurgents Contributing to "Six Days in Fallujah" Says Developer

April 14, 2009 -

Just when you thought Six Days in Fallujah couldn't get any more controversial...

The developer of Six Days in Fallujah told attendees at Konami's recent Gamers' Night event that Iraqi insurgents are contributing to the project along with U.S. Marines and Iraqi civilians.

Joystiq's Randy Nelson has a detailed report, including the startling remarks by Atomic Games president Peter Tamte:

It's important for us to say, you know, that there are actually three communities that are very affected by the battle for Fallujah. Certainly the Marines. Certainly the Iraqi civilians within Fallujah, and the insurgents as well. We are actually getting contributions from all three of those communities so that we can get the kind of insight we're trying to get.

I need to be careful about the specifics that I give... I think all of us are curious to know why [insurgents] were there. The insurgents [came from] different countries. And I think we're all kind of curious about you know - they went there knowing that they were going to die... And I think that that's a perspective that we should all understand.

[Insurgents are] involved in the creation of the game as well, as are Iraqi civilians. That's important to us. It's true. The game -- the influences for the game came from the Marines that returned from Fallujah. But quite frankly in talking with them, it's um, many people would just like this to be a recreation and we can't recreate that without getting the perspectives of all the people who were involved.

Although Tamte doesn't give a straightforward answer to whether or not Atomic has actually communicated with insurgents, his comments indicate that some type of input has taken place. It's unclear whether that input was direct or indirect.

The news that there is an insurgent perspective is likely to provoke renewed outrage among some Iraq War veterans as well as families of military personnel killed and wounded in the conflict. Dan Rosenthal, a veteran of the war who now operates the gameslaw.net site, reacted strongly to word of Six Days in Fallujah's insurgent perspective:

Absolutely unbelievable that Peter Tamte and [creative director] Juan Benito would try to make an "entertainment" experience about a war that we're actively fighting, while soliciting advice and input on how to best kill Marines in game, from people who have worked to kill Marines in real life. The hypocrisy and double-speak coming out of Atomic's leadership is beyond unbelievable. 

 

The game is a "communications tool".....a communications tool for who? The insurgency? And then out of the other corner of their mouths, they try to pass the game off as a "telling of stories"; but that's a rude slap in the face to the approximately 100 Marines who died in the battles of Fallujah when the "story-telling" game includes Halo-style health regeneration. I'm pretty sure I don't remember that being standard issue when I was in Iraq.

GP: We're struggling to recall another game that generated this much controversy this early in its development cycle.

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Video Game Press Reacts to "Six Days in Fallujah" Controversy

April 11, 2009 -

Since the controversy over Six Days in Fallujah broke earlier this week, GamePolitics has reported on reaction from military veterans as well as from family members of soldiers killed in the Iraq War.

But the video game press has begun to weigh in as well. U.K-based gamesindustry.biz spanks coverage of the game by British tabloids, but reserves some criticism for Konami's VP of marketing, Anthony Crouts:

Crouts [told the] Wall Street Journal... "We're not trying to make a 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. At the end of the day, it's just a game."

What a thoroughly depressing attitude for a senior executive... At its most basic level, it raises questions about how well some people in this market actually understand the concept of a "compelling entertainment experience". Compelling entertainment is compelling exactly because it does make people uncomfortable - because it challenges their perceptions in intelligent ways, because it makes them think...

At Sector Earth, scribe Mike Antonucci writes:

There is an obvious tone that is dismissive about a video game in a way that we'd be unlikely to hear if "Six Days in Falljuh'' were going to be a movie, play or even, say, a graphic novel... much of the criticism of video games comes on two levels: There's always a specific flash point -- in this case, the Iraq factor -- and then there's also an underlying (and wrongheaded) contempt for video games as being without artistic or social value.

The Raleigh News & Observer quotes Alexander Macris, who heads the group which publishes The Escapist:

I think games are entitled to the same level of respect as other entertainment media. [Developer] Atomic is driving the dialogue forward by creating a game like this. It is showing that games can be relevant. The fact is, the consumer of this is not a young kid. The consumer for something like this is going to be someone interested in current events and interested in realistic military war gaming.

 

I don't think Atomic is engaging in exploitation. I think it is a serious attempt to cover the fighting in Fallujah through a game.

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Iraq War Vets Express Support For Konami's Six Days in Fallujah

April 10, 2009 -

Thus far, reaction to Konami's just-announced Six Days in Fallujah has been largely negative.

But G4 spoke to several Iraq War veterans who are also gamers. These military men were optimistic about the game, which will be based on the controversial 2004 battle.

Sgt. Casey J. McGeorge, who spent 36 months in Iraq, told G4:

As a combat veteran and as a gamer, I have no problem whatsoever with the game... As long as it's made as realistically as possibly, I believe that this could be a good thing for both combat veterans and for the war in general.

Former Army Sgt. Kevin Smith:

Hopefully it will bolster support for military veterans by giving civilians insight into what this war was actually like for them... I really hope that this title receives positive press and encourages more empathy towards veterans after gamers have 'experienced' what they have gone through. On a side note, I really hope this game includes co-op!

USMC Gunnery Sergeant John Mundy:

You will have your group of idiots that try to be the terrorists and kill Americans and shout obscenities through the TV, damning American military personnel. But hey, those individuals can make fools of themselves all because of the protection that we military people give them each day... If someone doesn't agree with the game, they can spend their money elsewhere."

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Families of U.S. War Dead Join Outcry Against Konami's Six Days in Fallujah

April 9, 2009 -

A group representing the families of U.S. military personnel who died in Iraq and Afghanistan has expressed its dismay over Konami's upcoming Six Days in Fallujah.

Via press release, Gold Star Families Speak Out suggested that the war game will cause additional pain for those who lost loved ones in the conflict:

We question how anyone can trivialize a war that continues to kill and maim members of the military and Iraqi civilians to this day.

The war is not a game and neither was the Battle of Fallujah. For Konami and [developer] Atomic Games to minimize the reality of an ongoing war and at the same time profit off the deaths of people close to us by making it 'entertaining' is despicable.

GSFSO member Joanna Polisena, whose brother was killed in Iraq in 2004, said:

When our loved one's 'health meter' dropped to '0', they didn't get to 'retry' the mission. When they took a bullet, they didn't just get to pick up a health pack and keep 'playing'...they suffered, they cried, they died. We - their parents, siblings, spouses, children and friends - absolutely find it disgusting and repulsive that those so far detached (and clinging to denial of reality) find it so easy to poke fun at such a thing.

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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?

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Outrage Over Konami's "Six Days in Fallujah"

April 7, 2009 -

It has been only a day since the news broke of Konami's plan to publish Six Days in Fallujah, but the game is already sparking anger as well as calls for a ban.

To be sure, releasing a video game based on one of the bloodiest and most controversial actions of the Iraq War is a public relations gamble for Konami and developer Atomic Games - especially since the war is still going on.

Early negative reactions to Six Days in Fallujah have been both sharp and diverse, with a decorated British Army officer and a representative of a U.K. peace group both expressing outrage over the game.

The U.K.'s Daily Mail reports complaints about Six Days in Fallujah by the father of a Royal Marine who died in the Iraq War. Reg Keys, whose son Thomas was killed in 2003, said:

Considering the enormous loss of life in the Iraq War, glorifying it in a video game demonstrates very poor judgement and bad taste... These horrific events should be confined to the annals of history, not trivialised and rendered for thrill-seekers to play out...

It's entirely possible that Muslim families will buy the game, and for them it may prove particularly harrowing. Even worse, it could end up in the hands of a fanatical young Muslim and incite him to consider some form of retaliation or retribution...

I will be calling for this game to be banned, if not worldwide then certainly in the UK.

Meanwhile, former colonel Tim Collins OBE, a decorated Iraq War veteran, was equally aghast:

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.

Tech Radar offers withering comments from Tansy Hoskins of Stop The War Coalition, a U.K. peace group:

The massacre carried out by American and British forces in Fallujah in 2004 is amongst the worst of the war crimes carried out in an illegal and immoral war. It is estimated that up to 1,000 civilians died in the bombardment and house to house raids...

The American led assault on Fallujah pretended there were no civilians left in the city [but]  over 50,000 people remained in their homes and took the brunt of the violence and chemical weapons...

To make a game out of a war crime and to capitalise on the death and injury of thousands is sick... The massacre in Fallujah should be remembered with shame and horror not glamorised and glossed over for entertainment.

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Konami Announces Game Based on 2004 Fallujah Battle

April 6, 2009 -

In a somewhat unusual move for a top-tier video game publisher, Konami has announced a game based on the war in Iraq - while U.S. troops are still deployed there.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Six Days in Fallujah will be published in 2010. North Carolina-based Atomic Games is handling the development chores. The company is experienced with military game designs.

Of Six Days in Fallujah, Atomic Games President Peter Tamte told the L.A. Times:

For us, the challenge was how do you present the horrors of war in a game that is also entertaining, but also gives people insight into a historical situation in a way that only a video game can provide? Our goal is to give people that insight, of what it's like to be a Marine during that event, what it's like to be a civilian in the city and what it's like to be an insurgent...

GP: Not many details seem to be available at this point. A Wikipedia entry which relies heavily on the May issue of GamePro indicates that the game will be available for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. A multiplayer component appears to be included. It's unclear at this time whether online games will require players to fight as insurgents against U.S. forces.

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Apple Blocks Obama Trampoline iPhone Game

February 9, 2009 -

Apple, it appears, takes a rather dim view of political satire - at least where iPhone apps are concerned.

TechCrunch reports that Apple has nixed a seemingly harmless game in which depictions of President Barack Obama and other U.S. political figures jump on a virtual trampoline.

The news comes on the heels of Apple's recent rejection of another would-be iPhone game which parodies December's hurling of a shoe at then-President Bush. That well-known incident was widely satirized via online Flash games.

TechCrunch questions Apple's censorship of Obama Trampoline:

Developer Swamiware was surprised to see its latest iPhone app rejected by Apple, and so are we. The application was a harmless game that let you select a known U.S. politician (both republicans and democrats) and have him/her jump a virtual trampoline...

 

Does the Obama Trampoline app actually ridicule public figures? It’s not obscene or pornographic of nature, so why was it deemed either offensive or defamatory?

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Young Soldier Uses Xbox Skillz to Become Ace Drone Pilot in Iraq

February 7, 2009 -

An 18-year-old soldier parlayed hand-eye coordination skills he gained playing Xbox into a key asssignment with the Army's drone aircraft section, says author P.W. Singer.

Democracy Now! has posted an interview with Singer, whose latest book is Wired For War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century. Of the young gamer-soldier, Singer said:

AMY GOODMAN: The relationship with games? You write that the best pilot is an eighteen-year-old kid who trained on an [Xbox] video game...?

P.W. SINGER: Yeah. He was actually a high school dropout who wanted to join the military to make his father proud. He wanted to be a helicopter mechanic. And they said, “Well, you failed your high school English course, so you’re not qualified to be a mechanic. But would you like to be a drone pilot?” And he said, “Sure.” And it turned out, because of playing on video games, he was already good at it. He was naturally trained up. And he turned out to be so good that they brought him back from Iraq and made him an instructor in the training academy, even though he’s an enlisted man and he’s still—he was nineteen.

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More Online Games Based on the Iraqi Shoe Toss

December 18, 2008 -

In recent days GamePolitics has reported on the Net's reaction to the recent incident in which an Iraqi journalist flung his shoes at President Bush.

GP reported on Bush's Boot Camp from T-Enterprise as well as some pretty clever game-themed animated GIF parodies.

Over at Water Cooler Games, Ian Bogost has collected a few more Flash games based on the now-famous shoe toss:

- SockAndAwe (screen shot at left)

- Flying Babush

- Can You Throw a Shoe at Bush?

To be sure, none are great art. But the sudden influx of games and graphics demonstrates the intense global reaction sparked by Muntazer al-Zaidi and his flying footwear.

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Iraqi Shoe Toss Inspires Multiple Game-themed Parodies

December 16, 2008 -

boingboing reports that the Net is rapidly spawning animated GIF parodies of the now-infamous Presidential shoe tossing incident.

Among those posted at the site are several with game themes, including World of Warcraft (left), Pokemon, and what appears to be Mortal Kombat.

The detail in the WoW parody is impressive. Bush is depicted as an elite boss. Shoe-tossing journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi is depicted as the player.Iraqi President Maliki is tagged as AFK.

The animation features authenthic WoW-like combat results as well. Bush is credited with a Dodge for ducking the shoes and al-Zaidi suffers a <Knockdown> when he is tackled.

There are also parody animations based on The Matrix, Monty Python and the Three Stooges.

43 comments

Gamer Army Wife Keeps Combat Troops Supplied with Video Games

November 10, 2008 -

As we look forward to Veteran's Day tomorrow, we're reminded that serving with the military in Iraq or Afghanistan must be very difficult, indeed. Our troops face constant danger and are far removed from their families and the things they enjoyed at home.

But a Philadelphia-area woman, Stefanie Doctor Shea, works hard to bring at least one of the comforts of home to the front lines: video games.

As GamePolitics first reported on Veteran's Day, 2007, Stefanie takes a very personal interest in how our military personnel are faring overseas. That's because her husband, Sgt. Michael Shea, spent the last year with the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq before returning home recently (Stefanie and Michael are pictured at left).

But while Stefanie's hubby may be back, the nonprofit organization she founded, Fun For Our Troops, is still engaged in its mission. A just-issued press release offers Stefanie's thoughts:

In our first year we were able to provide gaming relief to over 200 deployed troops and several Morale, Wellness, and Recreation (MWR) stations in Iraq and Afghanistan. We hope to continue the momentum this Veteran’s Day and in 2009.

SPC Joseph Burris adds:

As a soldier, I just wanted to say thanks for Fun for Our Troops. Words cannot describe the feelings I get when I see people like you selflessly donate time, money, and energy just to make our lives a little better. Something as simple as a videogame can mean a lot to a soldier who has nothing more to look forward to than another dusty day on convoy.

The Sheas are gamers themselves. While waiting for Michael to be deployed last fall, the couple spent a good deal of time playing the Wii. Stefanie attended PAX for the first time in August of this year.

Fun for our Troops is seeking tax-deductible donations of new or gently used game systems, video games, PC games or MP3 players as well as gift cards for distributors of games and gaming systems. The organization can also make use of monetary donations which are used primarily toward shipping costs and purchasing used gaming systems.  

Donations can be sent to:

Fun for our Troops, Inc.
506 Corporate Drive West
Langhorne, PA 19047

...or via PayPal.

18 comments

Report: Can't Play PS3 Games with Military Friends in Iraq & Afghanistan

October 14, 2008 -

We don't have much detail on this one, but a brief story on MaxConsole indicates that gamers in the U.S. are unable to use the PlayStation Network to play PS3 games online with friends and relatives serving with military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan:

A writer over at Sony Insider is asking Sony why he cannot play PS3 games over the PSN with his friends who are serving abroad the United States military.

 

According to the report: If you have a friend who lives in a different country, then its likely you will not be able to add them as a friend on your PS3. The reason why is that if you register your PS3 in a specific country, your Playstation Network is limited to that region. So, if my friend from the United States registers his/her Playstation 3 while they are on tour in Iraq/Afghanistan, then I will never be able to add them as long as I’m a US resident.

 

The writer says it is time Sony removed the restrictions of the Playstation Network and made it truly global.

The original post is not showing up at Sony Insider. It's unclear whether it was removed for some reason. MaxConsole does mention a work-around:

There is a workaround, but it is weak - if you purchased your PS3 in the USA, registered it there, and then brought it to another country you can still play your friends.

GP: It's ironic that this situation has become an issue, especially since the SOCOM commercial at left suggests that U.S. gamers could play via PS2 with overseas military gamers.

10 comments

 
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MaskedPixelanteI'm just saying, they're giving us an F-Zero kart and an F-Zero track, but their crossover representative is Link?08/27/2014 - 8:00am
ZenMasked, not really sure what your are talking about lol. They will be giving a total of 6 characters, 8 vehicles, and 16 tracks...plus the Yoshi and Shy Guy sets if you get both packs. Not bad for about the price of a single CoD map pack lol.08/27/2014 - 7:02am
MaskedPixelanteSee the flaw here. Blue Falcon car, F-Zero themed track, and Link as a playable character.08/27/2014 - 6:46am
IanCNext Level Games would like to say hi.08/27/2014 - 6:32am
Uncharted NEShttp://kotaku.com/zelda-f-zero-coming-to-mario-kart-8-162715073008/26/2014 - 11:17pm
Uncharted NESAlso $8 for each or $12 for both.08/26/2014 - 11:16pm
Uncharted NESZelda, Animal Crossing Coming To Mario Kart 8.08/26/2014 - 11:15pm
Andrew EisenNintendo has worked with plenty of western or non-Japan devs. It partners more often with devs in its own country but I wouldn't say it doesn't like western devs.08/26/2014 - 7:36pm
Matthew WilsonOr... give it to the studio that just formed from the old Darksiders guys. yeah I know outside of Retro they do not like working with western devs.08/26/2014 - 6:46pm
MechaTama31They should have just handed the Zelda reins to the team responsible for Okami, because they out-Zelda-ed Zelda.08/26/2014 - 6:08pm
Uncharted NESI miss Nintendo-Capcom Zelda games. ALTTP on the GBA was my first real time really playing through that game. And you know what, it was fun. :P08/26/2014 - 5:42pm
IanC3 and a half amazing games, since Capcom did the A Link to the Past port, and the Four Swords game that was on the cart. So thats 4 games then, id guess.08/26/2014 - 5:03pm
MaskedPixelanteDepends on who's teaming up with what. Zelda plus Capcom gave us three amazing games. Zelda plus Phillips gave us Youtube Poop.08/26/2014 - 3:25pm
E. Zachary KnightNintendo has had a fairly decent track record with teaming up with external development houses to make games based on their IP, at least recently. I hope they keep it up.08/26/2014 - 3:14pm
IanCThe idea of the Tekken team making a Pokémon fighting game is A: funny and B: clever.08/26/2014 - 2:39pm
IanCBlizzard took the Act 4 ending cut scene out of Diablo 3 Ultimate Evil Edition. So if you want to see the final cut scene from the base game better go look on youtube or something.08/26/2014 - 2:38pm
Andrew EisenI hope Magikarp is playable!08/26/2014 - 11:14am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/08/26/psa-psn-gets-knocked-down-again/ Hey, guess what happened again.08/26/2014 - 9:51am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/08/26/tekken-style-pokemon-fighter-unveiled-for-arcades-in-2015/ Continuing Nintendo's plan of letting other devs take a stab at their IPs, NB is doing a Pokemon fighting game based on Tekken.08/26/2014 - 9:41am
MaskedPixelantehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsB1e-1BB4Y John Oliver talks about the wage gap between women and men.08/26/2014 - 7:07am
 

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