Atomic Games seems to have a penchant for creating drama, even though this time the Six Days in Fallujah developer was clearly a victim.
Joystiq carries word that an attendee at last weekend’s PAX East show allegedly tried to make off with code for Atomic’s latest game, Breach. The suspected thief apparently made the mistake of telling Atomic Games personnel of his desire to steal the game, even as he was in the midst of downloading it.
Atomic President Peter Tamte told Joystiq that the man had succeeded in downloading only 14MB of the game before the theft-in-progress was noticed. The man then took off into the crowd before eventually being detained by security. The suspect claims that he was only trying to get online in the convention center.
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.
Developer Destineer Games, sister company to Atomic Games (the group behind the ill-fated Six Days in Fallujah), is about to release a Wii-game based on Marine activity in modern-day Beirut.
Marines: Modern Urban Combat is due out on November 10 according to the Marine Corps Times, but “is far removed from the realism that would be portrayed in Six Days in Fallujah, should that project ever move forward.”
Termed a “small-budget” game designed to be “family-friendly,” the new title is based on a Marine Corps simulator Destineer created back in 2005 and will have players attempt to stop Syrian and Iranian factions from inciting a civil war in Beirut.
Peter Tamte, President of both Destineer and Atomic Games offered:
We as a society tend to glorify heroes from 50 years ago, as we should, but there are individuals whose sacrifice and courage and commitment is just as strong who are walking around with us right now.
Tamte added that his company “remains committed” to making Six Days in Fallujah and is seeking out new partners in the wake of Konami bailing out on the project.
"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.
Now DeLappe and machinima artist J. Joshua Diltz have collaborated on 6 Days in Call of Duty 4. The anti-war video project combines a static view of CoD4 multiplayer action with a mobile cam. The kill count scrolls in a separate window. Diltz describes the project, which incorporates the recent Six Days in Fallujah controversy in its title:
"6 Days" is an experimental documentary that examines the consequences of a military conflict that rages over a period of six consecutive days in a virtual game world. Through the lens of both a static and roaming ground camera, the movie captures both visceral action and a sobering body count.
Based in the game "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare", the film pays homage to the lives, both military and civilian lost during the Second War of Fallujah.
Download a copy here...
Partially via: Kotaku
ABC News has posted a web feature on controversial games, listing nine titles "that went too far." The games chosen by ABC's Ki Mae Huessner are:
Although Ki Mae interviewed me for the piece, I'm not clear as to the criteria she used to narrow her final list down to nine. Still, it's a thought-provoking article and should serve as a good starting point to discuss what makes a game controversial.
The controversial Six Days in Fallujah video game project has drawn reactions from military veterans, families of war dead, peace groups, and pundits. But EALA's Borut Pfeifer is the first actual game developer to weigh in on the Six Days flap.
Writing for his Plush Apocalypse blog, Pfeifer, whose credits include Scarface: The World is Yours and Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom, questions a Konami exec's claim that, "We’re not trying to make social commentary. We’re not pro-war. We’re not trying to make people feel uncomfortable. We just want to bring a compelling entertainment experience.”
The notion that you can make a game set in modern day Iraq without making a political statement is complete nonsense...
If you set out to avoid commenting on the war, in the best case you’d end up with a theme closer to Black Hawk Down, that the horrors of war are survived only through the brotherhood shared between the men fighting...
Such a theme can still influence someone’s political opinion. Perhaps people interpret it as highlighting the need to support our troops more... Or perhaps it is interpreted that the toll on human lives is unacceptable and must be stopped no matter the ramifications...
If you set out to be as unbiased as possible and truly include all perspectives, that is also making a hefty statement in American political culture...
Via: GameBiz Blog
It has only been a few days since publisher Konami bailed on the controversial Six Days in Fallujah, but the CEO of developer Atomic Games discussed the situation at the Triangle Game Conference in North Carolina this week.
As reported by the Raleigh News & Observer, Peter Tamte (left) said:
Every form of media has grown by producing content about current events, content that's powerful because it's relevant. Movies, music and TV have helped people make sense of the complex issues of our times.
Are we really just high-tech toymakers, or are we media companies capable of producing content that is as relevant as movies, music and television?
This is what brought us close to many of the Marines who fought in Fallujah. After they got back from Fallujah, these Marines asked us to tell their story. They asked us to tell their story through the most relevant medium of the day -- a medium they use the most -- and that is the video game.
'Six Days in Fallujah' is not about whether the U.S. and its allies should have invaded Iraq. It's an opportunity for the world to experience the true stories of the people who fought in one of the world's largest urban battles of the past half-century.
GP: Setting aside the issue of whether it's too soon for a Fallujah game, frankly, the P.R. surrounding Six Days was incredibly bungled from day one. There is no precedent for a game project to crater with such velocity. A mere three weeks passed from the initial article about the game in the L.A. Times to Konami's sudden withdrawal from the project.
Here are a few questions I'd like to see Peter Tamte to address:
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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?
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.
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.