From the day that it was formally announced at a Konami event, Atomic Games' upcoming Six Days In Fallujah has been controversial. Planned as an effort to put the player in the roles of various combatants in arguably the most important battle of the war in Iraq, the game has been dropped by Konami Digital Entertainment Co. Aashi.com
broke the news and journalists including Jeff Keighley picked up the story to publish it on Twitter. The move comes after Konami received criticism from members of the games press as well as families of soldiers and marines, retired troops and citizens' groups.
Frankly, this move stands as a failure on the part of Konami in regard to the standing of the games industry as a whole.
Obviously, the critiques levied at the game were varied, and in some cases, justified. Most of the criticism seemed to focus on the timing of the release, and whether it is tasteful to release a game based around an on-going conflict, especially one as divisive as the War in Iraq. Other critics, however, postulated that the Second Battle of Fallujah qualifies as a war crime, due to accusations of mass murder and use of chemical weapons. The concept of playing through a massacre has proven repugnant to some, including U.K anti-war group Stop The War Coalition
In what is quickly becoming the norm in the games industry, Konami buckled under the pressure and gave into demands to drop the game. No other industry dealing with any artistic medium has to deal with this kind of disrespect for their efforts. Dozens of documentaries, plays, novels, paintings and full length motion pictures have dealt with the War in Iraq or the Battle of Fallujah specifically. Yet none have drawn the kind of vitriol and general level of outrage that Six Days in Fallujah
has had to endure. All of this with nothing of the game besides a few screen shots having been seen by the public. To be frank, no one really has any idea of what the game would have entailed, exactly what it would portray and what point, if any, it had to make regarding the conflict.
The easiest critique to level at the game seems to be that it would trivialize the experiences of those who fought there for entertainment. Many feel that the goal of a game should be "fun," "entertaining" and nothing else. Yet films which portray combat scenes from the same conflict do not suffer this judgment. The general assumption is that games cannot inform, enlighten or teach about the conflict, those involved and the mindset of these people who fought and died. The assumption is that the game cannot and will not rise to this challenge. The assumption is that games as a whole have nothing to teach us, or no way to broaden our perspective. Konami has allowed this assumption to survive, to thrive, when they could have released the game, which had a chance of bucking this misconception. They may have let massive numbers of people experience the conflict in a way that may have challenged their assumptions about the conflict.
This, however, will not happen. Konami has given in and subjugated their view of games to the ghetto of meaningless entertainment, when they had a chance to publish informative art regarding an issue that is presently affecting lives. Games have once again been defined as medium which apparently can't engage the participant on an emotionally and intellectually challenging level. It's apparently fine for games to deal with easy issues; killing Nazis, saving the Earth and rocking out are all innocuous, agreeable subjects. When it comes to potentially controversial or offensive topics, however, games cannot or should not, attempt to make a valid point. Ironically, this is coming from the company which published Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
, which dealt quite a bit with the subject of proxy wars and Privatized Military Corporations extensively.
Konami has done gamers a disservice by denying them the chance or even the choice to experience Six Days in Fallujah
. It could have been great, terrible, offensive, overly politically correct, or even a masterpiece. We will never know now, however, because games have been denied the basic respect and defense by their financiers that films and other forms of media have been afforded. Konami has failed gamers and is holding back their own medium. read