"Fallujah" Video Game Dropped Over Controversy

fallujahFun shouldn’t have to be the be-all end-all of video games, so I approached Six Days in Fallujah, a game based on a bloody battle in Iraq, with cautious optimism. Maybe this would be the title that takes war for what it is — intense and violent, with deeper consequences than “win or lose” — rather than a shooting gallery in realistic skin.

I tweeted as much when the game’s developers at Atomic Games talked about how they would address that issue. A report that the game included the perspective of insurgents piqued my interest even further. Maybe this game would not simply be Call of Duty: Modern Warfare with specific historical details.

It could be all for naught now that Konami has abandoned Six Days in Fallujah. A representative for the company told Asahi Shimbun that the decision came after “seeing the reaction to the videogame in the United States and hearing opinions sent through phone calls and e-mail.”

This doesn’t necessarily rule out the game. Another publisher could pick it up, but will any company want to? The outcry must have been pretty bad for Konami to back down from the controversy, because usually a strong negative response from concerned groups translates into free marketing. I guess it’s easier to justify the fictionalized, cartoonish violence of Grand Theft Auto than the portrayal of an ongoing war.

The other possibility is that Six Days in Fallujah isn’t as deep and meaningful as I had hoped, and Konami knows it. Even so, I’d still like to see this game come to market. The games industry might have learned a valuable lesson on what’s appropriate subject matter for video games and how to approach it. Instead, the stigma remains that games can’t take on a serious topic with anything but pure entertainment in mind.


6 comments

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  1. Blah8 April 27, 2009 at 3:19 pm #

    Pathetic, Konami.
    Hopefully a better, more appropriate publisher will pick up the game. If it’s not going in that “deep and meaningful” direction, then maybe the new publisher will push it in that direction.

  2. NanoGeek April 27, 2009 at 5:54 pm #

    To me it seems a little soon to be making video games about the Iraqi war.
    I don’t think we should consider a war this recent, in which thousands of people have died, as suitable material for video games.

  3. Jared Newman April 27, 2009 at 7:34 pm #

    @NanoGeek

    Do you also think it’s too soon to be making movies about the Iraq war?

    It’s my opinion that a video game, handled correctly, could be as compelling as a film that tackles the same subject matter. Even though the track record has consisted of popcorn shoot-em-ups like Call of Duty, the potential for something greater is there.

    If you think it’s too early for the entertainment industry as a whole to be cashing in on human suffering, that’s a different story. I still think there’s room for the arts to tackle current conflicts, but they have to be more careful. For video games, tasteful execution would be even more difficult. I was hoping game makers could rise to that challenge.

  4. NanoGeek April 27, 2009 at 8:51 pm #

    I’m not opposed to a movie as long as they stayed out of the politics and focused on the bravery of the troops.

    However, if creators of this game expect to make money, then they will probably have to make it a shoot-em up rather than a dramatic story which a movie could do. Like you said, they need to be sensitive to the families who have lost loved ones on the battlefield. I’d be surprised if they pulled it off successfully.

  5. Benj Edwards April 29, 2009 at 2:45 pm #

    Just by chance, I spoke to one of the developers of Six Days in Fallujah last night, and he’s not worried about finding another publisher. Apparently many publishers are interested in picking up the game.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Another War Game Tries to Get it Right - November 5, 2010

    […] And who could forget Six Days in Fallujah? The game’s source material came from U.S. Marines who survived a bloody battle, and wanted to tell their story in a medium that reaches young people. The very idea caused a controversy, and Konami withdraw support for the game. […]