The Potential Perils of Basing War Games on Modern Conflicts

May 14, 2010 -

One member of the gaming press recently attended an Electronic Arts media briefing for the next entry in the Medal of Honor series and came away with a lot of questions.

NoAddedSugar’s Mark Cullinane attended the event in London last week, which included a question and answer session with the game’s Executive Producer Greg Goodrich. As Cullinane sat watching the admittedly impressive visuals of the game, he found himself feeling uncomfortable due to, “the simple fact that one nation’s moment of misery was being turned into an entertainment experience. And there were we, eating our danishes and supping our cranberry juice, discussing the finer points of dismembering Afghanis.”

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Cutting Edge “Battle Lab” Opens at U.S. Naval Base

May 4, 2010 -

The Yokosuka Naval Base in Yokosuka, Japan is the center of operations for the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet and is also now home to a brand new, $6.0 million state-of-the-art “battle lab.”

Set in a formerly abandoned bunker dug into the side of a hill, the facility was launched on Monday according to Stars and Stripes. The inaugural simulation, dubbed Operation Coral Dagger, involved American and Australian forces maneuvering against a fictional foe called the Kamarians, an opposing force used in Australian military training.

The military publication called the exercise “a far more complex game than multinational forces had ever been able to play in Japan before Monday.” The simulator allows multi-national forces from all over the world to participate, whether they are on a ship, sitting in a flight simulator or parked in front of a computer.

The “battle lab” allows training to continue even when ships are docked for maintenance. Japan and other U.S. allies will be able to take part alongside the U.S. in future simulations.

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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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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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Columnist: War Games Glorify Combat, Manipulate Youth

February 4, 2010 -

War-themed videogames are just one part of “the man’s” plan to promote the glory of war among today’s youth, helping to ensure that young minds are distracted so that the war machine may continue to keep filling the coiffeurs of big government.

This thought process is put forth in an editorial on the Orangeville Citizen website, in a column penned by Constance Scrafield- Danby, who hinges some of her argument on the current popularity of war games, such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (though the author refers to the older Call of Duty: World at War).

She writes:

Other really popular video games are about wars in space, wars in mediaeval times, killing dragons and monsters, killing aliens, killing scary animals, killing.

… the best, most loved, most played video games in the world are the ones about killing.

Scrafield- Danby argues that the U.S. economy cannot afford peace, and that “our leaders make a show of struggling among themselves with their own sticky determination not to change anything.” She expands her thoughts to additional areas were change is fought tooth and nail, concluding that changes biggest enemy is greed.

She asks:

But what if young people suddenly woke up to this? What if they suddenly realised what is actually happening to their world and to them? What if they suddenly started to care? What if they suddenly began to insist on change, on peace, on “going green” and finding other ways to make airplanes fly?

Scrafield- Danby then answers her own question:

The Old Dogs could never let that happen. So, what do they do? They see to it that even WWII is still relevant, that being part of that long nightmare is desirable. It is the most wide spread Machiavellian manipulation of youth in our history. This is not even the promotion of war as something noble, etc.

 

It is the promotion of war, using the full weight of technology, to present the horrors in glowing gore, from a totally unrealistic place of safety.

GP: Obviously this editorial is a little bit out there, but an aversion to "in the box" thinking made it difficult to ignore. While she might be close to the truth on some fronts, it’s probably not the case that videogame publishers are churning out war games at the behest of the government.

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Tanks, But No Tanks: NJ Civic Leaders React to Game

January 27, 2010 -

Municipal leaders in New Jersey are split in their reactions to an iPhone game which depicts tanks rolling through their suburban neighborhoods.

Cherry Hill resident  and Cloud Scissor Games Principal Ken Fodero is profiled on NJ.com in a story centered on his new iPhone/iPod Touch game entitled Tank Battles in Suburbia. The game features various New Jersey towns—including Glen Ridge, Edison, Nutley, Summit, Raritan and Bloomfield—as battlegrounds for tank battles. Neighboring houses and private property can be destroyed in the skirmishes, but that decision is ultimately up to the player.

Edison Mayor Antonia Ricigliano wasn’t overly pleased with the game, saying:

Some of these video games are — my goodness — why are they so bent on destruction?

Jordan Glatt, Mayor of Summit, New Jersey, agreed with Ricigliano, stating, “It doesn’t sound like something that’s really constructive to what we’re trying to convey here.  We could be spending our efforts on a lot better things.”

Kathryn Weller-Demming, a Councilwoman-at-large for Montclair, took a more enlightened approach:

I don’t think there’s anything a fictional video game can take away from what’s great about Montclair. Certainly no one should be encouraged to perpetuate violence, but video games don’t raise people. Parents raise people.


Tank Battles in Suburbia is available in the iTunes Store for $1.99.

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Fighting Fair: International Humanitarian Law As Applied to Games

November 20, 2009 -

Proving that there really is a study for everything, an interesting new analysis applies International Humanitarian Law (IHL) to a variety of war-themed videogames to see how they stack up.

Playing by the Rules was undertaken by a pair of Swiss organizations, Pro Juventute, a children’s rights group, and Track Impunity Always (TRIAL), an association with a focus on international criminal justice.

The aim of the study was to “raise public awareness among developers and publishers of the games, as well as among authorities, educators and the media about virtually committed crimes in computer and videogames.”

Titles were played by gamers under that watchful eye of representatives from both organizations, along with three lawyers that specialized in IHL. Games tested included Army of Two, Battlefield Bad Company, Call of Duty 4 & 5, Far Cry 2, Metal Gear Solid 4 (referred to as Metal Gear Soldier in the report) and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6 Vegas.

For each title the study offers general information as a lead-in, then offers up context of the conflict in question and lists violations encountered along with legal analysis.

From FarCry 2’s Violations Encountered and Legal Analysis section:

The scenes portray extensive shooting in civilian areas and the shooting of civilian objects, including shooting at a church. All these acts go unpunished in the game. Even if we assume the attacks are not directed against these objects, the excessive destruction of civilian objects amounts to a violation of the principle of proportionality.

 

IHL allows for some collateral damage to civilians and civilian objects in carrying out hostilities, however, any expected damage must be proportional to the direct and concrete military advantage anticipated.

Overall the study stated, “The result is as deflating as reality. The organisation calls upon game producers to consequently and creatively incorporate rules of international humanitarian law and human rights into their games.”

Among the recommendations offered were:

It would be very useful if developers would incorporate more specific rules on how to conduct an operation in their games, in terms of the weapons allowed, the behaviour allowed, the military targets sought, the degree of collateral damage permitted, etc. The message of the scenes should never be that everything is allowed, or that it is up to the player to decide what is right and what is wrong. In real life, this is not the way it works.


The full study can be viewed here (PDF).


Thanks Bart! (Soldat_Louis)

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Happy Veterans Day

November 11, 2009 -


Happy Veterans Day to all those who served or are serving their country!

If you haven’t yet reached out to a vet in your family or among your friends today, we may have found the perfect e-card for you to send over at someecards.com.

Posted in
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Six Days in Fallujah Sister Dev Preps Marine Title

October 20, 2009 -

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.

Via GameCulture

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War Game Imagines Obama on the Run

October 16, 2009 -

The year is 2011. President Obama has just outlawed the private ownership of firearms, announced that the Constitution has been dissolved and revealed that the United States is going to be replaced by the North American Union, an amalgamation of the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Revolution breaks out. Your part in this is to help capture Obama and the renegade Cong (former Congressional leaders).

This is the premise of a new online community and game calling itself United States of Earth. The extensive site is almost overwhelming in the sheer amount of information it provides, but centers around a browser-based war game in which a player can train and amass troops with the intention of taking over counties in Virginia. Players can also challenge other United States of Earth users in real videogames on Xbox Live or the PlayStation 3 network in order to win points to be used on the site.

Once logged in, users have access to a series of stories and videos that revolve around the fantasy setting, Stories include: Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck Found Dead in Camp, Barack Obama Retreats to Virginia With Wife, Former V.P. Joe Biden Captured Outside Arlington and The Cong Loses Control, Pelosi Captured!

Obviously setup by a right-wing oriented person or organization, the United States of Earth website domain is registered under contactprivacy.com, a service designed to protect the name of whoever registered the domain. The terms/contact page of the website lists what they call a “virtual office” in Brooklyn, New York.

Also from the terms page:

We take the Constitution of the United States seriously here and apply many if not most of the freedoms contained within to our own United States of Earth. It is a shame that America itself no longer safeguards its citizens freedom as we enter this next glorious age of collectivism and decay promised daily by those in power, Republicans and Democrats. Will America survive? Only time will tell.

Via: Phillip and Fark

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Lecturer: U.S. Made War Games American Propaganda

October 8, 2009 -

American-developed war-themed videogames “tend to protect and justify America’s interests” according to a professor from a Japanese university.

Apparently referring to the U.S. Army game America’s Army specifically, Peter Mantello, a media studies lecturer at Ritsumeikan University in Japan, made the remarks during the War 2.0 conference, which took place on the Australian National University campus.  The conference addresses political violence and new media reports Aussie newspaper The Age.

“Flatten the adversary” is a typical approach of these types of titles added Mantello, who also discussed how foreign landscapes and cities are characteristically depicted in war games based in the Middle East:

The cityscapes are marked as primitive space. They show no sign of ordinary life or ordinary people … The special op soldier … poses as the necessary solution, the civilising instrument of modernisation, the democratic equaliser who through superior technological hardware and gutsy marine bravado will vanquish pre-modern evil.

Mantello’s bio on the War 2.0 conference website lists him as a “serious gamer,” who’s recent research “examines how the aesthetics, dynamics and politics of First Person Shooter (FPS) gameplay… transform videogames into poignant cultural artifacts.”

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Chinese Version of Company of Heroes Zaps Nazi References

August 27, 2009 -

The popular, World War II-themed RTS Company of Heroes is shortly to enter the Chinese game market as Company of Heroes Online, reports Kotaku.

When it does, all references to Nazi Germany will have been purged. The German side will be renamed "The Federation," while iron cross symbols on German vehicles and buildings will also be changed.

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Organizers Expecting Arrests at Army Experience Center Protest

August 25, 2009 -

Organizers of a September 12th protest planned for a video game-filled Army recruiting facility in Philadelphia are apparently expecting some of their group to be arrested.

A message posted yesterday at SHUT DOWN THE ARMY EXPERIENCE CENTER details the somewhat stealthy tactics planned for the demonstration and contains the following:

We’re expecting national television and print coverage this time around, so we want to make sure our presence is formidable...

Meanwhile, folks willing to risk arrest are being asked to begin showing up at the Army Experience Center as early as noon to sample one of the X Box video murder games or one of the killing simulators. It would be excellent to have folks on the inside throughout the day. 

As GamePolitics previously reported, seven protesters were arrested by police during a demonstration at the Army Experience Center on May 2nd.

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Fallen Soldier's Dad Promises They Will Play CoD Again One Day

August 23, 2009 -

British Private Richard Hunt made the ultimate sacrifice last week when his company was struck by an explosive device while on patrol in Afghanistan.

During a well-attended ceremony back home in Monmouthshire on what would have been the fallen soldier's 22nd birthday, Private Hunt's father, Phillip, commemorated the time they spent together playing Call of Duty: World at War.

Along with flowers and other items, a copy of the game was laid at the site of the memorial service. A handwritten not attached to the game read:

Happy Birthday 'Hunty'. Play you again one day. Dad.

Via: BBC

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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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6 Days in Call of Duty 4 Machinima Offers Anti-War Message

August 6, 2009 -

When we last heard from Joseph DeLappe, the artist/professor was was participating in online matches of the Defense Department's own America's Army game as a means of protesting the war in Iraq.

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

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Activist Urges New CPSC Head To Ban War Toys & Games

July 11, 2009 -

Never mind imposing tougher safety standards on imports from China, writes South Carolina attorney and activist Tom Turnipseed (left).

In an op-ed for The State, Turnipseed urges Inez Tenenbaum, the new chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, to make her first priority a ban on war toys and war games:

It’s easier for children to play with war toys than to learn how to read or play the piano. War toys teach children aggression. Aggression needs an outlet, but aggression can be played out in a non-violent manner with peaceful games.

Children should know what really happens in a war. People are hurt, maimed and killed. War toys, games, television shows and movies using guns seldom show the real effect of what violence does to people...

 

Studies indicate a direct correlation between exposure to media violence, especially interactive video games, and increased childhood aggression...


Better alternatives to children enjoying shooting at people and blowing up buildings are games that encourage the use of their minds, skills and physical dexterity in activities promoting the sanctity of life and peace.

Turnipseed served as a South Carolina state senator (D) from 1976 to1980. He made unsuccessful runs for Congress (1980) and South Carolina Attorney General (1998).

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In Congress, Rep. Kucinich Argues Against Army's Video Game-Fueled Recruiting Road Show

June 25, 2009 -

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) is no fan of the controversial Virtual Army Experience, a traveling, high-tech, video game-driven military recruiting program.

As GamePolitics reported in March, Kucinich urged the House Armed Services committee to eliminate funding for the project, charging that it "give[s] participants as young as 13 years old a naïve and unrealistic glimpse into the world of soldiering..."

In addition, Kucinich has taken the debate over the VAE to the floor of Congress. A C-SPAN video posted yesterday on YouTube shows the former presidential hopeful once again expressing concern over the recruiting program. Engaging in a colloquy with House Armed Services Committee chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO). Kucinich said:

Children as young as 13-years-old are participating in the Virtual Army Experience, which paints an innaccurate picture of war by glorifying it while sanitizing the real effects. More than a mere video game, it includes interactions with real veterans, who appear to be in perfect health. It also requires that the user, regardless of age, share personal information as a condition of participation...

 

I think we can agree that the Virtual Army Experience video game must be revalidated to ensure that its age-appropriate rating is accurate in the context of how it's being employed; that the Virtual Army Experience content should be reviewed to ensure it accurately reflects the consequences of war; and that there must be increased transparency with regard to how the personal information of the participants, collected during participation, will be used by the Army.

Skelton's response is of interest in that he didn't exactly disagree with Kucinich:

I support the VAE. At the same time, I know it can be improved. And I would be happy, of course, to work with this gentleman to address the issues that you have so aptly raised.

GP: At this point we're not entirely sure when Kucinich made the remarks in the House; given that they just hit YouTube, we assume that they are recent. Any GamePolitics reader input on the timing of Kucinich's comments will be gratefully accepted.

Thanks to: GP correspondent Andrew Eisen...

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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German Researchers See Pentagon Link to Violent Games

May 12, 2009 -

A pair of German researchers claim that violent video games are a creation of the U.S. military.

Writing in the latest issue of Current Concerns, Renate and Rudi Hänsel call for a ban on violent game and echo the military conspiracy theme espoused in the U.S. by followers of fringe political figure Lyndon Larouche:

During the nineties the killing simulators, employed for hand to hand combat in the US army and police, were released by the Pentagon to be sold for private use on the public markets. As a consequence the computer and video game industry that had co-operated with the Pentagon from the very beginning, boomed. Since then the so-called killer games have wreaked havoc among children and youths.

The US army’s electronic training programs for killing people must be taken back to the US barracks, where they came from. They have to disappear from civil society altogether. They may be appropriate for the purpose of national defense or fight against crime; they have no place, however, in children’s rooms or in living rooms.

In addition, the Hänsels relate violent games to school shootings and quote German and Swiss political figures who have called for a ban on such products.

Oddly enough, they also harken back to a post-World War II German ban on war-themed toys.

GP: Thanks to longtime European reader Soldat Louis for the tip!

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Kuma Games Issues Somali Pirate Sim

May 8, 2009 -

While the Iraq War combat of Six Days in Fallujah was judged by some to be too fresh of a topic for portrayal in a video game, the recent hijack of the Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates seems to have touched no such raw nerves.

Gamasutra reports that Kuma Games, which carved out its niche by recreating episodic, ripped-from-the-headlines military action, will launch Somali Showdown: Pirates on the High Seas this week for the PC:

Somali Showdown allows players to take on the role of either a crew member or an invading pirate aboard a captured vessel.

During a simulated hijacking, crew members will attempt to fend off the pirates and regain control of the ship's operations room. Players joining the game as pirates will try to take over the operations room and sail the ship into Somali waters.

Somali Showdown is a free download.

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Game Developer Considers the Politics of Six Days in Fallujah

May 4, 2009 -

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.”

Pfeifer comments:

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

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Developer Addresses Fallujah Game Cancellation, Questions Remain

May 1, 2009 -

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:

  • Why was Six Days pegged as a "survival-horror" game, ala Silent Hill? Was that handed down by Konami? Such a designation indicates a shoot 'em-up scare-fest rather than the serious treatment of the Battle of Fallujah which Atomic claimed to be developing.
  • Why does Atomic keep pushing the line that Iraq war veterans were beating down its door, demanding that they create Six Days, when it has been definitively shown by One Last Continue that Destineer, which owns Atomic, filed to trademark the name a mere three months after the battle ended in December, 2004? Most Fallujah vets were likely still deployed at that time.
  • Why would Atomic consult with insurgents (if they actually did)? Whether such consultations took place or were simply hype, why would Atomic think this would be a positive thing to announce? The insurgents were killing and maiming U.S. personnel in Iraq for years with a devastating IED campaign and even occasionally decapitating U.S. prisoners. I'm of the opinion that this piece of radioactive P.R. was the tipping point in Konami's decision to bail.
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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.

90 comments

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.

11 comments

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."

53 comments

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.

77 comments

 
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ZenThe reason the SNES could run Gameboy, or the Gamecube could run GBA was because their adapters included all of the necessary hardware to do it in the respective add-ons. The systems were just conduits for control inputs and video/sound/power.07/29/2014 - 4:51pm
ZenMatthew: Emulation takes more power than people realize to run a game properly. You can make something run on less, but Nintendo...as slow as they are at releasing them..makes them run as close to 100% as possible. Each game has its own emulator for it.07/29/2014 - 4:47pm
Matthew Wilsonkind of hard to believe since the 3ds is atleast as powerful as the gamecube hardware wise.07/29/2014 - 4:27pm
MaskedPixelanteYes, the 3DS has enough power to run 16-bit emulators, but not at the same time it's running the 3DS systems themselves. You could run the games, but you wouldn't get save states or Miiverse.07/29/2014 - 4:04pm
InfophileRunning GBA on 3DS shouldn't be hard. The DS had flashcarts sold for it that added just enough power to emulate GBA and SNES games, so the 3DS should have more than enough natively.07/29/2014 - 3:37pm
MaskedPixelanteIt's a bunch of people whining about boycotting/pirating Trails in the Sky FC because XSEED didn't license the Japanese dub track, which consists of about 10 lines per character.07/29/2014 - 11:27am
Sleaker@MP - devolver Digital issued a twitter statement saying they would replace the NISA pledge.07/29/2014 - 10:57am
E. Zachary KnightIs that a discussion about RIAA member music labels?07/29/2014 - 10:48am
MaskedPixelantehttp://steamcommunity.com/app/251150/discussions/0/43099722329318860/ In this thread: Idiots who don't understand how licensing works.07/29/2014 - 9:20am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/07/28/gaymerx-in-dire-straits-after-nis-america-allegedly-backs-out-of/ NISA backs out of GaymerX support, but it seems like the only people crying foul are GaymerX.07/29/2014 - 6:30am
Papa MidnightIt's not bad so far, but I am honestly not sure what to make of it (or where it's going for that matter)07/28/2014 - 9:44pm
Matthew Wilsonis it any good?07/28/2014 - 9:36pm
Papa Midnight"Love Child" on HBO -- anyone else watching this?07/28/2014 - 9:27pm
MaskedPixelanteNah, I'm fine purple monkey dishwasher.07/28/2014 - 4:05pm
Sleaker@MP - I hope you didn't suffer a loss of your mental faculties attempting that.07/28/2014 - 3:48pm
MaskedPixelanteOK, so my brief research looking at GameFAQs forums (protip, don't do that if you wish to keep your sanity intact.), the 3DS doesn't have the power to run anything more powerful than the NES/GBC/GG AND run the 3DS system in the background.07/28/2014 - 11:01am
ZenMatthew, the 3DS already has GBA games in the form of the ambassador tittles. And I an just as curious about them not releasing them on there like they did the NES ones. I do like them on the Wii U as well, but seems weird. And where are the N64 games?07/28/2014 - 10:40am
james_fudgeNo. They already cut the price. Unless they release a new version that has a higher price point.07/28/2014 - 10:19am
E. Zachary KnightMatthew, It most likely is. The question is whether Nintendo wants to do it.07/28/2014 - 10:12am
Matthew WilsonI am sure the 3ds im more then powerful enough to emulate a GBA game.07/28/2014 - 9:54am
 

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