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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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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Nintendo's Reggie: Obama Too Busy To Worry About Video Games

April 1, 2009 -

Issues such as the recession, healthcare and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are likely to keep President Barack Obama's attention away from video games, said Reggie Fils-Aime (left).

The Nintendo of America chief also believes that the video game industry is in a better position politically than it has been in the past.

Fils-Aime made his comments during a wide-ranging interview with GameDaily:

We have the first sitting president with a multiple gaming household, between the Wii and the DS. I believe that our president has more pressing issues to deal with, from the economy to the military conflicts.

 

Certainly, as an industry, we've met with representatives of Congress and other parts of our government. What they see is an industry that is mainstream, is creating jobs and is creating vibrant forms of entertainment. Those are all positive things for this country. So we are in a more favorable legislative environment compared to five or six years ago.

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In Development: Rendition: Guantanamo

March 20, 2009 -

Aside from the use of two politically-loaded buzz words in its title, we don't know much about Rendition: Guantanamo.

There's only the trailer at left as well as a teaser e-mail from developer T-Enterprise:

This week we are happy to present the teaser trailer for our 3D console game Rendition: Guantanamo.


The release date for the game will be October 2009. The game is being programmed for XBox 360 and Game for Windows format.

 

Without giving too much away at this stage - the game is set in the year 2020. The detention facility Guantanamo Bay has been sold to Mercenaries who now charge Scientists to conduct their un-ethical experiments on living human beings.

 

You play someone who was "renditioned" to Guantanamo by the Mercenaries and is now being subjected to these experiments. No one knows you are here and no one cares. Until now! Someone has managed to slip you a message. You have a son...

UPDATE: T-Enterprise, based in Scotland, is on Twitter, if you're interested in watching for updated info on Rendition: Guantanamo.

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RAF May Replace Pilots with Gamers for Combat Drone Sorties

March 4, 2009 -

Last month GamePolitics reported that one of the U.S. Army's top combat drone pilots in Iraq was a 19-year-old who learned his control skills playing Xbox.

Now comes word that Britain's Royal Air Force may employ gamers to control its combat drones in Afghanistan.

PressTV reports that the RAF hopes to save money by replacing pilots with less-skilled personnel:

The Royal Air Force (RAF) announced Saturday that pilots without full combat training will replace top guns in controlling unmanned Reaper planes in 'frontline missions' in Afghanistan as part of a plan to reduce costs...

Although a small mistake by the remote-controlled pilot can be lethal for civilians or friendly forces nearby, RAF chiefs, believe that 'lower grade' pilots with 30 hours' basic flying training can fly sensitive missions over Afghanistan...

It appears that RAF chiefs have based their claim on studies suggesting that the best drone crews are often young 'video-game players' rather than 'experienced fighter pilots'.

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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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Holocaust Survivor Visits Second Life, Tells of Encounter with Nazi "Angel of Death" Mengele

January 27, 2009 -

An 87-year-old Holocaust survivor spoke to a Second Life audience last week about her experiences with the horrors of Auschwitz during World War II, including an encounter with the dreaded "Angel of Death," Josef Mengele.

New World Notes reports on the appearance by Fanny Starr, who now lives in Colorado. Fanny spoke in SL via an avatar belonging to her daughter, Helen:

Helen's mother has made it her life's mission to recount her experiences to as many people as will listen.  Extending her voice to Second Life, Helen tells me, is just another venue to do so.

"I did not have to convince her, I just asked," Helen tells me. "SL technology can reach a broad base of people in a small atmosphere, something a RL classroom cannot achieve."  Then there's another consideration, for a woman on the cusp of 90: "[S]he can lecture from the comforts of her home versus the classrooms she has lectured in for the last 30 years..."

"The responses are amazing," Fanny's daughter Helen tells me, "but the emotions outweigh the comments."

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Aussie Pol Stages a Wii Supply Drop for Troops in Afghanistan

January 22, 2009 -

Australian Governor-General Quentin Bryce popped into Afghanistan for a quick visit with members of the Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force stationed at Tarin Kowt.

Bryce praised the Aussie troops for their difficult and dangerous work against the Taliban:

We Australians take great pride in you, your contribution to the freedoms that we cherish, the values and principles that you stand for.  The mateship, the trust, the confidence, the professionalism, the skills you share.

As a token of her appreciation, Bryce bestowed upon the troops the gift of gaming goodness which, according to Kotaku, was a single Nintendo Wii.

Hey, they’re probably hard to find in Australia too.

Via: ABC News

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics correspondent Andrew Eisen

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Latest Gaza Conflict Game is Pro-Israeli

January 14, 2009 -

In recent days GamePolitics has covered web games propagandizing the current Gaza conflict from both the Israeli and Palestinian viewpoints.

The latest of these is Iron Dome which takes the Israeli perspective. Along with a Missile Command-esque interface, Iron Dome offers three levels of difficulty as well as several links offering the Israeli version of the issues behind the conflict.

GP: Thanks to GamePolitics reader Itamar for the tip!

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Web Game Takes Israeli Side in Gaza Conflict

January 11, 2009 -

As GamePolitics reported last week, Israel's invasion of Gaza has spawned protests in Second Life as well as a Flash game with a distinctly pro-Palestinian view.

The latest online game inspired by the conflict, however, is very much pro-Israeli.

Save Israel is a simplified, Missile Command-like game which seems very difficult to win - and that appears to be the designer's point. When it's "game over," a splash screen advises the player:

It's very hard to save Israeli citys from Hamas's rocket, so we must defend ourselfs

User comments to the game on its Kongregate page reflect the strong division of opinion generated by the conflict.

Via: Enduring America

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Wii Game of Gaza Conflict (Satire)

January 9, 2009 -

The current Gaza conflict continues to be portrayed in game imagery.

Earlier this week GamePolitics looked at Raid Gaza!, a web game which harshly criticizes the Israeli incursion. We also reported on anti-Israeli protests in Second Life.

Humor site CAP News has posted a parody report on Gaza Under Fire, a fictitious Wii game that would allow players to fight as either the Isaelis or Palestinians.

The concept behind the game is that players insert their Mii characters into the Middle East conflict... and then choose whether to go on the offensive against the other side or help protect their own people. The game utilizes both the Wii remote and nunchuck and incorporates updates from the Wii News Channel to keep the game current...

 

Some, like [fictional professor] Spaulding Wang, see the game as an educational tool...

"Rather than try to explain to my daughter something I just don't get, why not have her take Israel's side and blow up some civilians in Gaza, and then take Palestine's side and do the same to Israel," Wang said. "Then she can form her own opinion about who she thinks is right, and share that with her fellow first-graders."

 

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New Game Is a Protest of Israeli Invasion of Gaza

January 7, 2009 -

At the Georgia Tech News Games Project, Ian Bogost discusses Raid Gaza!, an editorial game dealing with Israel's offensive against Hamas in Palestine.

Raid Gaza! is hosted at Newgrounds and has an RTS-like interface in which the player, acting as the Israeli side, builds structures and uses them to create military units which are then launched against the Palestinians.

Of the game, Bogost writes:

The game argues against the justification of Israeli attacks on Gaza, representing them as unprovoked and characterizing Israel's response as overt aggression. The game's goal is to kill as many Palestinians as possible in a three minute session...

The game is headstrong, suffering somewhat from its one-sided treatment of the issue at hand. But as an editorial, it is a fairly effective one both as opinion text and as game... It's release on user-contributed animation and games portal Newgrounds came on 30 December 2008, only three days after the Israeli Defense Forces launched airstrikes...

Raid Gaza! was probably not created by a journalist nor a professional game developer (it was submitted to Newgrounds eponymously). Still, the piece was timely, coherent, and exerted commentary that is appreciable, even if it is not profound...

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Anti-Israeli Protests in Second Life

January 7, 2009 -

Israel's controversial incursion into Gaza has sparked virtual protests in Second Life, reports scribe Wagner James Au.

On his New World Notes blog, Au describes the protests taking place at SL Israel, a Second Life area which recreates Israeli landmarks and tourist attractions in virtual form:

Last week when Israel began launching guided missiles at Hamas targets in Palestine... SL Israel became a flashpoint of another kind.  As the airstrikes pounded Gaza, so did protesters, teleporting into SL Israel, waving flags.

"Lots of people yelling," Beth Odets tells me. "They were going on and on with slurring obscenities about murderous Israeli forces, etc."  She gives me a screenshot taken during the incursion, festooned with anti-war or pro-Palestinian signs, some depicting dead Arab children...

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Russia-Georgia War: The Computer Game Version

November 25, 2008 -

A soon-to-be-released computer game will take its theme from the recently-concluded war between Russia and Georgia.

Confrontation: Peace Enforcement will launch in December from Moscow-based publisher Russobit-M. As reported by the Moscow Times, the title is a reference to the Kremlin's insistence that the purpose of the short but bloody engagement was to "force Georgia to make peace."

In the hypothetical game, Georgia - backed by NATO forces - attempts to seize the same rebellious South Ossetia region over which the recent conflict was waged. From Moscow Times:

It hasn't yet been revealed whether there is a special role-playing function allowing gamers to torch and bulldoze villagers' homes while stealing their cars and shooting their cattle, or if players get bonus points for every refugee they create. But screenshots from the game do show fighter planes swooping low over blazing houses and a tank opening fire close to a Georgian Orthodox church.

"Politics are politics, and a game is a game. These things should not be confused," said a spokesman for Russobit-M, the company that designed the game. But some of the people who suffered during the war may find it hard not to see it as triumphalist propaganda.

The report also describes a mission from the upcoming Arma 2 in which U.S. forces intervene in a fictional former Soviet republic that resembles Georgia. Mentioned as well is Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon, which rather eerily predicted a 2008 Russia-Georgia conflict over South Ossetia... in 2001.

GP: Given that the conflict just ended in August, the rapid development turnaround of Confrontation: Peace Enforcement, seems to indicate that the Russia-Georgia war bits are a mod to an existing game.

Via: GameCulture

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19 comments

Report: Fallout 3 Nuke Quest Nixed for Japanese Market

November 11, 2008 -

Kotaku reports that a Fallout 3 side quest involving the possible detonation of an unexploded nuclear bomb has been edited out of the Japanese version of the best-selling game.

Developer Bethesda has made changes to the Japanese Fallout 3. The side-quest The Power of the Atom has been changed. Non-playable-character Mr. Burke has been taken out of this side-quest, removing the option of detonating the nuclear bomb.

 

That's not all, the name of a weapon was changed as it was deemed "inappropriate" for Japan. Smart money says the weapon is mini-nuke launcher "Fat Man" for obvious reasons. The online reaction from the Japanese users seems to be largely disappointment to these edits. Fallout 3 goes on sale in Japan this December.

Japan, of course, is the only nation to have been attacked with a nuclear weapon to date, so cultural sensitivities to the issue are understandable. The atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki at the end of World War II was nicknamed "Fat Man."

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Cartoonists Bring Cheer to Soldier Wounded While Gaming

October 7, 2008 -

Occasionally here at GamePolitics we pay honor to the sacrifices made by gamers serving in the military.

Along that line, we note an unusual human interest story posted on The Mad Blog, which is penned by Mad magazine cartoonist Tom Richmond.

Richmond writes about visiting a U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany with a group of fellow cartoonists. There they came upon a soldier who had been badly injured while gaming during his free time:

Eventually we made it up to the ICU, where we saw a few seriously wounded soldiers. The first young man we saw told us a story of how he had been serving in Afghanistan and was in his tent taking a little R&R playing a video game when a projectile explosive hit. He was missing a part of one leg and the other was damaged.

 

Chip did a hilarious drawing of him playing his video game which was exploding and he was thinking “Man, this video game is so realistic!” That sounds a little insensitive but the fact is these guys like to talk about their injuries, how they happened and what was going on. He got a big laugh out of that. He was hurt but was going to be okay. He was in a lot of pain but I think we brought some laughs to him.

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Red Cross Rolls Out Humanitarian Adventure Game

October 1, 2008 -

Citizen Sugar reports on a new, web-based game offered by the British Red Cross.

Traces of Hope is designed to raise awareness of the plight of children in war-torn Uganda:

Players aim to help Joseph, a boy whose home and family has been torn apart by rebels, find his missing mother. The game site says: "He has a satellite phone, you have the web – together you’ll make a great team. Time is running out; guide Joseph through sickness, fire and violence as together you follow his traces of hope."

 

By placing clues for the game around the Internet, the game creators hope to blur the boundary between the game and the real world conflict. Since atrocities in the region often go unnoticed, perhaps this educational entertainment will help some wake up.

Cnet Asia has more:

After registering your email, Joseph contacts you and the game begins... The game is part of the Civilians and Conflict Month, a media blitz to raise awareness on the plight of those displaced and separated from their families because of war.
 

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james_fudgewhoever made that decision and Intel will regret it later on down the road. Boycotts are tricky business.10/02/2014 - 4:26am
prh99The unflattering characterization "They don’t know how to dress or behave." & "‘Games culture’ is a petri dish of people who know so little about how human social interaction..." probably didn't help.10/02/2014 - 1:52am
prh99Probably not many as it was purely a vindictive move. The headline alone was plenty of ammo, but for those that did read and complain..10/02/2014 - 1:42am
Andrew EisenI wonder how many of those who complain about that article actually read past the headline.10/02/2014 - 1:37am
prh99http://intel.ly/1tjh1AH http://bit.ly/1rGPHOY http://intel.ly/Zu6go9 it isn't surprising "Gamers are over" didn't go over very well.10/02/2014 - 1:34am
Papa MidnightCan you parlay that to #WriteAGawkerArticle? The cesspool of horrid crap over there extends far beyond Kotaku.10/02/2014 - 12:34am
Andrew EisenWow! Intel dropped Gamasutra due to GameJournoPros? Over Matt Matthews? The only Gamasutra guy in the group? Who hasn't written a single thing about #GamerGate at the site? Where did you read that?10/02/2014 - 12:32am
Neo_DrKefka#WriteAKotakuArticle "#GamerGate is responsible for breaking millions of Intel powered macbooks after angry SWJ hipsters slam them shut" or "How Toxic Processors from Intel causes sexism. "10/02/2014 - 12:15am
Neo_DrKefkaSo Intel has dropped Gamesutra due to there support of your Gaming News Cabal Fudge. Anti GamerGate article soon? Or like your e-mails are you hoping this narrative dies down soon?10/02/2014 - 12:14am
Andrew EisenWell, time to eat some dinner and work on the Hyrule Warriors guide until bedtime!10/02/2014 - 12:11am
Andrew EisenJust finished my stream. That... could have gone better. Technical issues prevented me from playing a console game so I instead played and bitched about The Walking Dead for two hours. Oh well, the folks watching still seemed to enjoy it.10/02/2014 - 12:09am
Matthew Wilsonwe all know valve can not cout to 3.10/02/2014 - 12:08am
MechaTama31Who cares? Gimme Portal 3!10/01/2014 - 9:38pm
quiknkoldAndrew : Mostly I decided there were better people who could explain what was going on, or fight any battles that may come up. so I decided not to talk about it anymore.10/01/2014 - 8:49pm
Andrew EisenI don't recall you promising that. GamerGate is not a taboo discussion here. Anyway, thanks for the link. Very interesting.10/01/2014 - 8:47pm
quiknkoldI know I promised to not talk about Gamergate again, but Intel just pulled sponsership from Gamasutra over it http://techraptor.net/2014/10/01/gamasutra-intel/10/01/2014 - 8:40pm
quiknkoldP.T. is a game I just cannot play alone. I puss out hard on it. need somebody with me when I play that. Kojima was right. it is Pants Shittingly Scary10/01/2014 - 6:17pm
quiknkold@james_fudge not playin all the way through. P.T, Silent Hill(Not sure which), Resident Evil Gamecube Remake, Alien Isolation, Ghostbusters, Outlast, Super Castlevania 410/01/2014 - 6:04pm
james_fudgeI wish I could like that last shout.10/01/2014 - 5:48pm
MechaTama31Tried out Sims 4 on my brother in law's pc. Promptly got my sim exhausted, to soil himself, then sent him without cleaning up to mock people at the museum. Good times...10/01/2014 - 5:33pm
 

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