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2:17 AM on 04.27.2009

The Moral Failure of Konami: Six Days in Fallujah Dropped

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. 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

10:28 PM on 01.02.2009

My Evening With Reggie Fils-Aime

Hanukkah. It's all because of Hanukkah. As an Irishman (and a rather non-religious one at that), the festival of lights has usually been relatively minor to me. This year however, it led to a rather interesting encounter with one President and COO of Nintendo of America.

On the second night of Hanukkah, my good friend Dan invited several of our friends over to his home for a night of latkes, gelt and competitive dreideling. Upon my arrival, his mother insisted that he show me a holiday card. I was greeted with the vacant smiles of an Animal Crossing avatar.

This never seems any less creepy. It's all in those dull, soulless eyes.

I laughed and asked where I could get one. Dan urged me on, telling me to open it. Inside I found well wishes and the signature of one "Reggie." Puzzled I looked up and asked, "Is this from Reggie Fils-Aime?" Dan responded with a nod and began laughing at my gaping mouth. "He and my dad were frat brothers," Dan said. This prompted one very big question; "Why the hell was your dad in a frat?"

The night continued on with the card as nothing more than a notable oddity, a fun anecdote to tell to all the Nintendomaniacs I knew. I continued to relish my first winter break as a Freshman at Syracuse. I celebrated Christmas, my 19th birthday and rang in the New Year by reconnecting with my ex Sarah (the relationship with whom was ironically kick-started by Super Mario Galaxy). I was ready to forget the card until Friday, January 2nd. I had spent the day lounging about, going to see "Milk" with some friends and having dinner with my lady friend's family. I was ready to accept the day as being great but rather unremarkable. As we left the restaurant, however, I got a text from my friend Sean. "Come to Dan's, grab some pizza and meet Reggie."

Sarah found the whole thing rather comical and decided to come along for the ride. I arrived at Dan's house , traversed through a snowy front lawn and entered the house, totally unsure of why this was all so cool. I said my hellos to Dan's parents then rounded a corner to find a dozen of my friends mulling around some boxes of pizza. After making my our hellos, Sarah and I looked around the corner and saw a small dinner party taking place, looked to the end of the table and saw him.

He's bigger looking in person, as improbable as that is.

I retreated back into the kitchen and look at Sean. We shared a look that basically said "Holy crap, this man is Nintendo incarnate." Dan's mother corralled us into the dining room and had us introduce ourselves one at a time, shaking his hand. Shaking his hand, I merely said, "Warren Greatsinger, nice to meet you." He chuckled a bit and said "Greatsinger? I assume you like Rock Band then?" The group laughed and settled into a nice rapport; he would ask us if we had a Wii, Wii Fit and a DS. When I replied that I had a 360 and a Wii, he insisted that I just use the Wii since the 360 will Red Ring anyway.

As the night went on, the party moved downstairs to play some N64. My group put in Goldeneye and played some Deathmatch for about an hour until the parents came down. Reggie walked up and commented on how tough it is to look at it now, but that he also loved Rare's games. He even went as far as to chastise us all for not choosing to play as Oddjob. As we were playing, I mentioned offhand to Sean how I had seen a Virtual Boy on eBay for some exorbitant amount of money. Reggie perked up and asked us if any of us had a Virtual Boy. When he was met with a sea of "nos," he began to talk about his love for the system, headaches and all.

As the night wore down, Mr. Fils-Aime asked where we all went to college. Upon my mention of Syracuse, he mentioned how it was a "damn good school," which sent Sean into a bit of a jealous rage. Making our goodbyes, he again was polite and shook our hands goodbye as we headed home. As Sarah and I made our way back to my house, I was struck by how much of a gamer he really was. I had always had the image of him as a corporate raider, the kind of guy who didn't care where he worked as long as he could maximize profits and do well for himself. After meeting him and seeing him bested in Wii Tennis by Dan's fourteen year old sister, however, I realized that he was a man who balanced his job with his passion for gaming. I also realized that his fists were half the size of Connecticut, which made me hesitant to ask him about whether there would be any good games besides Mad World on Wii this year.   read

4:28 PM on 03.07.2008

Not my Turning Point gaming rig

For all of the talk recently about how piracy is destroying the PC games market, in most cases it comes down to two words: "system specs"...which I'm not even sure my Sony Viao's version of word could process.

Essentially, when I recieved this PC as a birthday gift in January of 2006, it was, in my then un-informed opinion, "the new hotness." Well, new-ish, and hot enough to run Starcraft and the original Call of Duty, but nothing more. However, times of change. In this era of dual-card GPUs and the like, I've fallen behind, and my once beloved PC has become a relic of good times gone by.

Now, it's just painful to look at, much less to run anything on. Its too garbage to run Portal or TF2 for fuck's sake!

I know that there may be some other community members who are lacking in the PC department more than I am, but none of them can be as alarmist, angry, or as unnecessarily violent as I can be when it comes to wanting to win.

What I'm trying to say, is that by allowing me to retain this rather doggerel piece of hardware, you're helping to ensure the death of the PC gaming market.

Thank you for your time, and remember, Brawl can only control your life and the lives of those around you if you let it.   read

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