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

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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Outrage Over Konami's "Six Days in Fallujah"

April 7, 2009 -

It has been only a day since the news broke of Konami's plan to publish Six Days in Fallujah, but the game is already sparking anger as well as calls for a ban.

To be sure, releasing a video game based on one of the bloodiest and most controversial actions of the Iraq War is a public relations gamble for Konami and developer Atomic Games - especially since the war is still going on.

Early negative reactions to Six Days in Fallujah have been both sharp and diverse, with a decorated British Army officer and a representative of a U.K. peace group both expressing outrage over the game.

The U.K.'s Daily Mail reports complaints about Six Days in Fallujah by the father of a Royal Marine who died in the Iraq War. Reg Keys, whose son Thomas was killed in 2003, said:

Considering the enormous loss of life in the Iraq War, glorifying it in a video game demonstrates very poor judgement and bad taste... These horrific events should be confined to the annals of history, not trivialised and rendered for thrill-seekers to play out...

It's entirely possible that Muslim families will buy the game, and for them it may prove particularly harrowing. Even worse, it could end up in the hands of a fanatical young Muslim and incite him to consider some form of retaliation or retribution...

I will be calling for this game to be banned, if not worldwide then certainly in the UK.

Meanwhile, former colonel Tim Collins OBE, a decorated Iraq War veteran, was equally aghast:

It's much too soon to start making video games about a war that's still going on, and an extremely flippant response to one of the most important events in modern history. It's particularly insensitive given what happened in Fallujah, and I will certainly oppose the release of this game.

Tech Radar offers withering comments from Tansy Hoskins of Stop The War Coalition, a U.K. peace group:

The massacre carried out by American and British forces in Fallujah in 2004 is amongst the worst of the war crimes carried out in an illegal and immoral war. It is estimated that up to 1,000 civilians died in the bombardment and house to house raids...

The American led assault on Fallujah pretended there were no civilians left in the city [but]  over 50,000 people remained in their homes and took the brunt of the violence and chemical weapons...

To make a game out of a war crime and to capitalise on the death and injury of thousands is sick... The massacre in Fallujah should be remembered with shame and horror not glamorised and glossed over for entertainment.

99 comments

Konami Announces Game Based on 2004 Fallujah Battle

April 6, 2009 -

In a somewhat unusual move for a top-tier video game publisher, Konami has announced a game based on the war in Iraq - while U.S. troops are still deployed there.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Six Days in Fallujah will be published in 2010. North Carolina-based Atomic Games is handling the development chores. The company is experienced with military game designs.

Of Six Days in Fallujah, Atomic Games President Peter Tamte told the L.A. Times:

For us, the challenge was how do you present the horrors of war in a game that is also entertaining, but also gives people insight into a historical situation in a way that only a video game can provide? Our goal is to give people that insight, of what it's like to be a Marine during that event, what it's like to be a civilian in the city and what it's like to be an insurgent...

GP: Not many details seem to be available at this point. A Wikipedia entry which relies heavily on the May issue of GamePro indicates that the game will be available for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. A multiplayer component appears to be included. It's unclear at this time whether online games will require players to fight as insurgents against U.S. forces.

9 comments

Hated AIG Kicks It in Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer 2009

March 23, 2009 -

If you haven't yet gotten your fill of AIG news, Stephen Totilo of MTV Multiplayer reports that the controversial, troubled insurance company shows up unexpectedly in Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer 2009.

Stephen was checking out the Wii version and reports that AIG's now-infamous logo appears on the jerseys of Manchester United:

For those who recognize AIG as one of the most hated three-letter combinations in America these days, be warned about Konami’s new Wii soccer game “Pro Evolution Soccer 2009.”

The game’s opening cinematic has a bunch of guys wearing the company’s logo...

I discovered through “PES 2009″ that Manchester United... is sponsored by AIG. (Or, to be precise, used to be sponsored, as reports, like this one from Forbes, indicate that the U.S. government has nixed any renewal of this Manchester United AIG deal.)

After reading Stephen's piece I tossed my copy into the PS3, and found AIG there, as well.

21 comments

Konami Sues Over Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards

October 9, 2008 -

By way of the Courthouse News Service, we've learned that publisher Konami has sued a company by the name of Vintage Sports Cards. Although there have been a number of video games in the series, at issue is Konami Yu-Gi-Oh! card game.

Vintage Sports Cards is selling repackaged Yu-Gi-Oh! trading cards with counterfeit "rare cards," Konami Corp. says in a trademark and copyright complaint in Los Angeles Federal Court. The cards are based on manga, or comic books, which are wildly popular in Japan.

GP: The complaint has not yet been posted on the federal docketing system, but we'll add it when it appears.

10 comments

Konami May Tone Down Silent Hill: Homecoming for Aussie Market

September 30, 2008 -

IGN has an update to recent news that Silent Hill: Homecoming had become the latest game to feel the sting of the Australian government's ban hammer.

Included are details of game content which drew the attention of censors at the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC):

...the OFLC cited several high impact scenes in the game, mostly focusing on drilling into and severing body parts. One scene in particular that was highlighted as a problem involved Alex (the main character) having a drill forced into his right eye socket, which caused a lot of blood to spray out. A couple of other scenes mentioned include one where Alex forces the drill up into an enemy's skull and another where Alex is cut in half by an enemy.

 

We haven't seen the Silent Hill scenes in question but based on the descriptions we find it hard to understand why the OFLC refused to permit them, considering the famous Resident Evil 4 chainsaw decapitations of Leon were passed without issue.

Atari, which is distributing SH: Homecoming in the Australian market, hopes to work with Konami to scale down the violence sufficiently to earn an MA15+, the most restrictive rating currently offered by the OFLC.

26 comments

Silent Hill: Homecoming is Banned Down Under

September 26, 2008 -

GameSpot reports that Konami's upcoming Silent Hill: Homecoming has fallen victim to Australia's notoriously ban-happy censors.

Silent Hill: Homecoming thus joins Dark Sector, Shellshock 2: Blood Trails, and Fallout 3 among the ranks of games which were refused classification (i.e. a rating) in 2008. Dark Sector and Fallout 3 managed to get back on board, however, after making edits.

From the GameSpot story:

An Atari spokesman (Atari is the local distributor for Konami titles) confirmed the game banning to GameSpot AU, saying that Australia's Classification Board found issue with the high impact of Silent Hill's violence. Examples used by the Board in its report include copious blood spray in the game, decapitations, partially dismembered corpses, numerous scenes of attacks, fights, torture, and death.

 

The spokesman said plans for Homecoming's Australian release are now "on the backburner until early next year" pending discussions with Konami to see if any changes can be made to accommodate Australia's classification regime.

Silent Hill: Homecoming is scheduled for North American release on September 30th.

29 comments

In Japan, Konami Cancels MGS4 Launch Events in Wake of Akihabara Rampage

June 15, 2008 -

vnunet reports that Konami has cancelled Japanese launch events surrounding the release of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots:

The company said in a statement to Japanese media that it called off the events because it was concerned about the safety of the public. The cancellations follow a rampage by a knife-wielding man in Tokyo at the weekend in which seven people were killed...

 

One of the cancelled launch events had been scheduled for Tokyo's Akihabara district, where the stabbing took place on Sunday... [in the game] Players control a soldier armed with a knife and various other weapons who fights his way through a multitude of enemies by killing and disabling them in a variety of missions.

Launch events outside of Japan were not affected and the game is being released as scheduled in Japan and elsewhere.

 

40 comments

 
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MattsworknameWilson: how? Im still waiting for my upgrade notice07/29/2015 - 3:44am
Matthew WilsonI updated to a clean instill of windows 10.07/29/2015 - 2:36am
Mattsworknameargue that it's wrong, but then please admit it's wrong on ALL Fronts07/29/2015 - 2:06am
MattsworknameTechnoGeek: It's actually NOT, but it is a method used all across the specturm. See Rush limbaugh, MSNBC, Shawn hannity, etc etc, how many compagns have been brought up to try and shut them down by going after there advertisers. It's fine if you wanna07/29/2015 - 2:05am
Mattsworknamediscussed, while not what I liked and not the methods I wanted to see used, were , in a sense, the effort of thsoe game consuming masses to hold what they felt was supposed to be there press accountable for what many of them felt was Betrayal07/29/2015 - 2:03am
MattsworknameAs we say, the gamers are dead article set of a firestorm among the game consuming populace, who, ideally, were the intended audiance for sites like Kotaku, Polygon, Et all. As such, the turn about on them and the attacking of them, via the metods07/29/2015 - 2:03am
MattsworknameAndrew: Thats kind fo the issue at hand, Accountable is a matter of context. For a media group, it means accountable to its reader. to a goverment, to it's voters and tax payer, to a company, to it's share holders.07/29/2015 - 2:02am
Andrew EisenAnd again, you keep saying "accountable." What exactly does that mean? How is Gamasutra not accounting for the editorial it published?07/28/2015 - 11:47pm
Andrew EisenMatt - I disagree with your 9:12 and 9:16 comment. There are myriad ways to address content you don't like. And they're far easier to execute in the online space.07/28/2015 - 11:47pm
Andrew EisenMatt - Banning in the legal sense? Not that I'm aware but there have certainly been groups of gamers who have worked towards getting content they don't like removed.07/28/2015 - 11:45pm
DanJAlexander's editorial was and continues to be grossly misrepresented by her opponents. And if you don't like a site, you stop reading it - same as not watching a tv show. They get your first click, but not your second.07/28/2015 - 11:40pm
TechnogeekYes, because actively trying to convince advertisers to influence the editorial content of media is a perfectly acceptable thing to do, especially for a movement that's ostensibly about journalistic ethics.07/28/2015 - 11:02pm
Mattsworknameanother07/28/2015 - 9:16pm
Mattsworknameyou HAVE TO click on it. So they get the click revenue weather you like what it says or not. as such, the targeting of advertisers most likely seemed like a good course of action to those who wanted to hold those media groups accountable for one reason07/28/2015 - 9:16pm
MattsworknameBut, when you look at online media, it's completely different, with far more options, but far few ways to address issues that the consumers may have. In tv, you don't like what they show, you don't watch. But in order to see if you like something online07/28/2015 - 9:12pm
MattsworknameIn tv, and radio, ratings are how it works. your ratings determine how well you do and how much money you an charge.07/28/2015 - 9:02pm
Mattsworknameexpect to do so without someone wanting to hold you to task for it07/28/2015 - 9:00pm
MattsworknameMecha: I don't think anyone was asking for Editoral changes, what they wanted was to show those media groups that if they were gonna bash there own audiance, the audiance was not gonna take it sitting down. you can write what you want, but you can't07/28/2015 - 8:56pm
MattsworknameAndrew, Im asking as a practical question, Have gamers, as a group, ever asked for a game, or other item, to be banned. Im trying to see if theres any cases anyone else remembers cause I cant find or remember any.07/28/2015 - 8:55pm
Andrew EisenAs mentioned, Gamasutra isn't a gaming site, it's a game industry site. I don't feel it's changed its focus at all. Also, I don't get the sense that the majority of the people who took issue with that one opinion piece were regular readers anyway.07/28/2015 - 8:43pm
 

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