Latest U.S. Military Interactive Training Methods Detailed

April 8, 2010 -

As the U.S. Military continues to implement interactive training as a means to prepare its members for combat, the Future Immersive Training Environment (FITE) team hosted a conference call today in order to discuss a pair of new training initiatives.

Clark Lethin, of the Office of Naval Research, began by noting that FITE’s focus was on training small units, or “squads of 10-13 soldiers, marines, sailors or airmen,” with an emphasis on improving team unity, unit cohesion, unit decision making and communication skills. The first new training initiative, which has been completed, revolves around a personal virtually reality system.

Lethin explained, “An individually worn virtual reality system with helmet-mounted display and a weapon with a toggle switch on it that allows you to locomote through the virtual world… then we have sounds tied into that system, as well as a shock device that will receive shock if these men are hit or wounded by any kind of connectict event.”

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Could Games Actually Help Avert Civilian Causalities?

April 7, 2010 -

In response to this week’s leak of a video that appears to show U.S. troops in Iraq shooting civilians, an article on Slate examines how videogames could possibly assist in preventing such tragedies from happening in the future.

WikiLeaks spokesperson Julian Assange said about the video, “The behavior of the pilots is like they're playing a video game. It's like they want to get high-scores in that computer game.” And indeed, the Slate piece notes the similarities between the leaked footage and missions in both Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (pictured) and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

Slate offers the following interpretation of Assange’s quote:

To be fair, Assange's point is more subtle than that. He's not saying American gunners mistakenly shoot innocent men because they grew up playing video games. He's suggesting they do so because the killing itself feels like a game.

The author then assesses his own assessment:

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Video of U.S. Troops in Iraq Draws Comparison to Games

April 6, 2010 -

Leaked video of U.S. troops in Iraq shooting civilians that were mistaken for insurgents caused a WikiLeaks spokesperson to compare the footage to a videogame.

The footage in question, which can be viewed here if you have yet to see it (warning, it is graphic) shows a pair of Apache helicopters circling a group of people on the streets of New Baghdad in July of 2007. A Fox News report states that the choppers were responding to reports of AK-47 fire in the area. The group of 9-12 people included a pair of Reuters journalists.

U.S. troops apparently mistook cameras and photography equipment for weapons and eventually open-fired, killing an undetermined amount of people, including the two Reuters photographers. A Pentagon spokesperson called the attacks justified and told Fox News that, “The individuals who were killed, apart from the Reuters journalists, were involved in hostile activity.”

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Examining Red vs. Blue as an Anti-War Film

April 1, 2010 -

D. Bruno Starrs has penned a research paper which takes at look at the popular machinima series Red vs. Blue as an anti-war film.

Entitled Reverbing: The Red vs. Blue Machinima as Anti-War film, the self-proclaimed independent-scholar explains that his paper examines Red vs. Blue “in the context of the war film genre, given that machinma is a kind of cinema.” Starrs notes the proliferation of other anti-war-themed machinima, such as We Choose Death or Deviation, but says he chose Red vs. Blue as the basis for his paper because of its “longevity and popularity” and “unique use of humour.”

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Six Days in Fallujah Completed

March 3, 2010 -

Atomic Games President Peter Tamte indicated late last year that his company was “committed” to finishing the controversial Six Days in Fallujah videogame and it appears he has remained true to his word.

A story on IGN, citing a “source close to the game’s development,” reports that the game has been completed, though a release date for the game, or publisher, was not disclosed.

Konami had initially backed the project and was going to serve as its publisher before a series of negative public reactions to the game became public. The families of military personnel wounded or killed in the Iraqi war, and even some soldiers themselves, believed that it was too soon for such a game to be released, as the war was still ongoing (and indeed still is today) at the time of the announcement.

Other groups expressed dismay over the project due to heavy civilian losses reported in the real fight over Fallujah. Additional reports that insurgents may have helped contribute to the game’s development did nothing to lessen the controversy surrounding the title.

Konami eventually bailed on Atomic Games and Six days in Fallujah in April of last year, citing negative reactions to the game.
 

Thanks Andrew!

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Anti-War Campaign Inspires Game

December 14, 2009 -

Inspired by anti-war posters, Reid Kimball created a side-scrolling game for the PC echoing the same message.

The posters sparked Kimball’s motivation were created by Big Ant International, under a campaign called What Goes Around Comes Around which backed the Global Coalition for Peace. The artwork is designed to wrap around objects in order to show, for example, a soldier’s gun muzzle pointing at himself.

The game itself, called What Goes Around, is rather simple, and has players fire a Predator missile from a drone (at a UFO adorned with a turban) and then, mimicking the posters, having to avoid the missile as it loops around and comes up behind the drone. The game (7MB) can be downloaded from Kimball’s SparkPlugCreations website here.

Kimball talked about the What Goes Around on his Gamaustra blog:

I have a passion for creating games that explore more serious topics like health, the environment, human rights and war. I don't get to make these kinds of games during my day job but I hope to one day because I believe games can provide very engaging and empowering experiences for people.

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Chinese Version of Company of Heroes Zaps Nazi References

August 27, 2009 -

The popular, World War II-themed RTS Company of Heroes is shortly to enter the Chinese game market as Company of Heroes Online, reports Kotaku.

When it does, all references to Nazi Germany will have been purged. The German side will be renamed "The Federation," while iron cross symbols on German vehicles and buildings will also be changed.

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Organizers Expecting Arrests at Army Experience Center Protest

August 25, 2009 -

Organizers of a September 12th protest planned for a video game-filled Army recruiting facility in Philadelphia are apparently expecting some of their group to be arrested.

A message posted yesterday at SHUT DOWN THE ARMY EXPERIENCE CENTER details the somewhat stealthy tactics planned for the demonstration and contains the following:

We’re expecting national television and print coverage this time around, so we want to make sure our presence is formidable...

Meanwhile, folks willing to risk arrest are being asked to begin showing up at the Army Experience Center as early as noon to sample one of the X Box video murder games or one of the killing simulators. It would be excellent to have folks on the inside throughout the day. 

As GamePolitics previously reported, seven protesters were arrested by police during a demonstration at the Army Experience Center on May 2nd.

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Surveying the Use of Video Games as Propaganda

August 24, 2009 -

Bruce on Games takes a look at the video game as propaganda.

While blogger Bruce Everiss concludes that games have generally been ignored for propaganda purposes, he argues this is because government officials are basically old school types:

The reason we have been left alone is quite obvious. Games are just another media, albeit a technically superior media. But the people with all the power, the politicians and journalists, don’t realise this because mostly they just don’t understand video games at all. We see this in the way they blame video games for violence in society when the opposite is true. And now that ignorance is protecting video game players from propaganda.

GP: we're not so sure we agree, given that a new issue-oriented Flash game pops up about once a week on the web.

At any rate, Bruce has identified a list of propaganda games. Among others they include several PC mods produced by Islamic extremists, the Religious Right's Left Behind, and the Defense Department's controversial America's Army, of which Bruce is clearly not a fan:

America’s Army is the big one. A series of games designed to foster the American Army view of the world on an unsuspecting public and also to work as a recruitment tool. This has been a remarkable success at promoting gung ho American militarism.

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Fallen Soldier's Dad Promises They Will Play CoD Again One Day

August 23, 2009 -

British Private Richard Hunt made the ultimate sacrifice last week when his company was struck by an explosive device while on patrol in Afghanistan.

During a well-attended ceremony back home in Monmouthshire on what would have been the fallen soldier's 22nd birthday, Private Hunt's father, Phillip, commemorated the time they spent together playing Call of Duty: World at War.

Along with flowers and other items, a copy of the game was laid at the site of the memorial service. A handwritten not attached to the game read:

Happy Birthday 'Hunty'. Play you again one day. Dad.

Via: BBC

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6 Days in Call of Duty 4 Machinima Offers Anti-War Message

August 6, 2009 -

When we last heard from Joseph DeLappe, the artist/professor was was participating in online matches of the Defense Department's own America's Army game as a means of protesting the war in Iraq.

Now DeLappe and machinima artist J. Joshua Diltz have collaborated on 6 Days in Call of Duty 4. The anti-war video project combines a static view of CoD4 multiplayer action with a mobile cam. The kill count scrolls in a separate window. Diltz describes the project, which incorporates the recent Six Days in Fallujah controversy in its title:

"6 Days" is an experimental documentary that examines the consequences of a military conflict that rages over a period of six consecutive days in a virtual game world.  Through the lens of both a static and roaming ground camera, the movie captures both  visceral action and a sobering body count.

Based in the game "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare", the film pays homage to the lives, both military and civilian lost during the Second War of Fallujah.

Download a copy here...

Partially via: Kotaku

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Another Protest Planned for Army's Video Game Recruitment Center

August 5, 2009 -

In May, GamePolitics provided live coverage of a protest march against the Army Experience Center in Philadelphia. The high-tech recruitment facility employs fast gaming PCs and Xbox 360s as a means of attracting potential recruits.

Seven demonstrators were arrested at the May protest.

It now appears that a second protest at the Army Experience Center is in the planning stages. Details of an action scheduled for September 12th are posted at Shut Down the Army Experience Center.

While the May protest appeared to be coordinated with local authorities, who escorted demonstrators along their line of march, the upcoming event looks to have a more chaotic flavor. From the protest website:

This time, demonstrators are being encouraged to form small affinity groups and enter the mall through one of several locations. Protesters are encouraged to express their outrage in creative, nonviolent ways.
 
At 2:00 pm people will come out of the woodwork and converge on the Army Experience Center.  Organizers feel it may not be wise for participants to congregate into large groups before the demonstration or wear clothing that would suggest participation in the protest... 

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Would-be Game Designer Lost in Afghanistan

August 5, 2009 -

….another in an occasional series of reports about gamers who gave their all:

A U.S. Army soldier killed in Afghanistan last month was a lifelong gamer, reports the Washington Post.

Army Spec. Anthony Lightfoot, 20, of Riverdale, Georgia died along with three comrades in a roadside attack on July 20th in Wardak Province.

According to his family, Lightfoot beat Mario Bros. as a small child and hoped to become a game designer some day:

He was a video game devotee who beat a Mario Bros. game at age 4 and never looked back, his brother said. "Ever since then, you couldn't move him from the TV," his brother said. "Everything he touched he tried to master, and that was an awesome quality about him."

Lightfoot's passion for video games grew into a desire to study animation and design a game. He drew a lot as a youngster and befriended other fans of Japanese animation and video games.

"He was always happy to meet people, befriend people and help people," his brother said. "He was a giving person."

Spec. Lightfoot was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday.

GP: Rest in peace, Anthony...

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Army Robot Has Video Games and Vacuum Cleaner in its Family Tree

July 22, 2009 -

At the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the U.S. Army is testing robotic weapon systems, the origins of which can be traced back to the Xbox 360 and the Roomba vacuum cleaner, reports nextgov:

Spec. Ronald Wagle is a 23-year-old video gamer turned grunt... The handheld gizmo he uses to control a robot "is almost exactly the same as an Xbox [360] controller," he said.

Wagle uses the controller to deftly steer the robot, whose camera-equipped head gives it more than a passing resemblance to the R2-D2 robot in Star Wars, to check buildings in the village for weapons, including trip wires that could set off an improvised explosive device.

The robot, built by iRobot Corp., the same company that makes the Roomba vacuum cleaner, features cameras that can see in daylight and dark, has flexible treads that allow it to climb stairs, and radio links...

GP: Note the Xbox 360 controller carried by the soldier in the picture at left. More info on the Army's SUGV program is available on Wikipedia.

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Xbox Live's Major Nelson Visiting Troops in Baghdad

June 13, 2009 -

Larry Hyrb, aka Major Nelson, is currently in Baghdad.

The Director of Programming for Xbox Live tipped readers to the surprise 10-day trip in a blog post on June 7th:

I am a few hours away from stepping on a plane for the first leg of my journey to Baghdad, Iraq for the Iroq-Band competition taking place next week. I am honored to be asked to support the event, and I am looking forward to meeting many of service men and women that are Xbox LIVE members...

 

With all of the travel and security involved in this trip, my online time... will be extremely limited... I want to warn you that I’ll be unusually quiet (which I am sure won’t bother some of you) during my radio silence. 

Major Nelson arrived in Iraq on Wednesday. Despite the heavy security of a war zone, he has been providing numerous updates via Twitter. Some of his recent tweets give the flavor of the experience:

It takes you back when the staff where we are staying have sidearms and automatic weapons.

 

Taking a scenic tour of downtown Baghdad aboard a Blackhawk heli.

 

Apparently I slept through a mortar attack last night. No one was injured.

 

Seems like Xbox 360 is everywhere on this base. The only thing they don't have is LIVE due to the poor connectivity.

 

Most popular games on the base? Rock Band, Halo, COD (any of 'em) and all sports games.

The pic at left is from the Major's ride-along with a Blackhawk sortie over Baghdad.

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Six Days in Fallujah Debated on Fox News

June 11, 2009 -

On Fox and Friends this morning the debate over Six Days in Fallujah is back in the news.

Joining host Gretchen Carlson are Atomic Games president Peter Tamte, retired USMC Capt. Read Omohundro, an advisor on the project and Tracy Miller, who lost a son in the Fallujah fighting.

Via: Kotaku

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Google's Props to 25th Anniversary of Tetris a Snub to D-Day Vets?

June 8, 2009 -

Last week Google paid homage to the 25th anniversary of Tetris by rendering its familiar logo in Tetris-like blocks.

While the gaming community by and large appreciated Google's nod to the groundbreaking game created by Alexey Pajitnov, not everyone was so pleased. The Washington Times reports that some websites have criticized Google for recognizing Tetris while ignoring the 65th anniversary of D-Day. At the conservative NewsBusters, Warner Todd Huston wrote:

It's far more important to Google to celebrate the anniversary of the invention of the video game Tetris than to memorialize D-Day. It just warms the heart, doesn't it?

I have to say, though, that this is no departure for Google, a firm that finds it nearly impossible to post images celebrating any American holidays or important milestones in American history. So, what we have here is just one more example of Google's essentially anti-American policies.

At WorldNetDaily, Drew Zahn echoed the criticism:

Google has a history of ignoring major American patriotic and religious holidays, while honoring Remembrance Day in Australia, Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom, the Chinese New Year, Valentine's Day, Halloween and other observances.

A Google spokesperson told the Washington Times:

[Google] special logos tend to be lighthearted and often scientific in nature.... We do not believe we can convey the appropriate somber tone through this medium to mark holidays like Memorial Day.

Via: GameCulture

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Army Building Virtual Support Group For Amputee Soldiers

May 28, 2009 -

The United States Army plans to develop an online virtual support group for soldiers who have lost limbs in combat, reports Virtual World News. The families of the soldiers would also be able to participate in the group.

The idea is still quite preliminary and there is no information available as to what form the virtual support group might eventually take. One could easily imagine, however, an avatar-based system along the lines of Second Life or PlayStation Home.

At this point, the Army is still soliciting proposals for the project on the Federal Business Opportunities website. From the RFP:

Studies have shown that a patients major concern is that of dying alone, either literally or figuratively. The second major concern is that of having unmanaged pain.... quality of life has been much improved by the use of simple support groups...

 

We therefore believe that giving patients and their families access to a virtual support group environment will enable them to have access to a critical resource which they may not be able to be part of in the physical world...

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Controlling Navy's Anti-terrorist Weapon System Comes Easily to Gamers

May 20, 2009 -

The U.S. Navy is equipping some of its vessels with Israeli-made Mini-Typhoon 12.7mm remotely controlled machine-guns.

The 370-pound system, which can be fired by an operator in a remote location, holds 230 rounds, sufficient for 25 seconds of rat-tat-tat. Strategy Page notes that the weapon is an effective defense against small boats such as those used by suicide bombers.

So, who might the Navy turn to for Mini-Typhoon duty? Gamers, reports Strategy Page:

The Mini-Typhoon uses a day/night vidcam and a stabilizer. The remote operator has an automatic target tracker, and can easily hit small boats two kilometers away... Operators with video game experience can be quickly trained to operate the weapon.

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Politically-Charged Xbox Live Community Game Dinged Over Gameplay

May 15, 2009 -

As GamePolitics mentioned earlier this week, the politically-tinged indy game Clover was released as an XBL Community title.

While the game is essentially an allegory about the twisted path that led the United States to invade Iraq in 2003, Fidgit's Tom Chick finds Clover wanting in the fun department:

Entertainment has a long and storied history of commenting on politics. Unfortunately, Clover seems to lost sight of the entertainment part of the equation. Or maybe I'm to blame for not having the patience to play through a crudely drawn and even more crudely built adventure game based on inventory management.

I can eventually get past the look of the game, which might be described as South Park run through a Braid Photoshop filter...  The problem with "message" games is that unless the message is delivered with some sort of nuance or power... the gameplay is going to have to take up the slack...

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Interactive Documentary Shows What It Was Like to Drop A-Bomb on Hiroshima

May 11, 2009 -

A project for an Interactive Documentary class at NYU lets viewers assume the roles of crew members of the Enola Gay; the B-29 dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshoma in August, 1945.

Hidezaku Furuya's work requires each "player" to wear a headset, reading the lines required to execute the Enola Gay's horrific and world-changing mission. Afterward, the documentary plays back, allowing participants to hear themselves as participants in the recreated death of more than 100,000 people.

Furuya writes about his work:

I want to ask the audience about “justice”. Might is right, or winning is everything. But are victors always right? Also, are losers in all the wrong? Is it right to do anything for justice? Justice for whom? What is Justice? ...

This is the inscription on the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Memorial Monument: “Rest in peace, because the same mistake will not be repeated”. By whom? Of course, by we human beings, not only by Japan.

I believe human beings can lead to the realization of real peaceful world by learning from history beyond generations, cultural gap or religious conflict.
 

Via: Gizmodo

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Politically-influenced Clover Launches on XBL

May 11, 2009 -

Clover, an Xbox Live Community Game being developed by Binary Tweed has now launched. As GamePolitics reported recently, the story which unfolds in Clover was heavily influenced by the run-up to the Iraq War.

In fact, Binary Tweed calls the game a "watercolour political platform puzzler," and those are four words you don't hear strung together very often.

From the Clover press release:

Already in the hands of some early-bird gamers, the true nature of Clover's political plot is becoming clear. “It's been great to read emails from gamers who have picked up on the historical and political references - if Clover has one objective, it's to make people think.” commented Binary Tweed's Deejay. Heavily inspired by the events preceding the 2003 Iraq war, the game invites players to draw their own conclusions from unfurling events.

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Kuma Games Issues Somali Pirate Sim

May 8, 2009 -

While the Iraq War combat of Six Days in Fallujah was judged by some to be too fresh of a topic for portrayal in a video game, the recent hijack of the Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates seems to have touched no such raw nerves.

Gamasutra reports that Kuma Games, which carved out its niche by recreating episodic, ripped-from-the-headlines military action, will launch Somali Showdown: Pirates on the High Seas this week for the PC:

Somali Showdown allows players to take on the role of either a crew member or an invading pirate aboard a captured vessel.

During a simulated hijacking, crew members will attempt to fend off the pirates and regain control of the ship's operations room. Players joining the game as pirates will try to take over the operations room and sail the ship into Somali waters.

Somali Showdown is a free download.

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Columnist Equates Violent Games With Acceptance of Torture

May 7, 2009 -

With the national debate over the use of torture raging on, could a steady diet of violent entertainment color some Americans' view of what has euphemistically been dubbed "enhanced interrogation"?
 
Writing for the liberal-leaning Huffington Post, Kari Henley opines:

If we are going to truly come to terms with abiding by moral codes against extreme acts of violence, we first have to start in our own living rooms... We say we "don't f**#$ torture," yet Grand Theft Auto is our favorite video game.
 
Let's face it: Americans are repeatedly exposed to serious scenes of violence when we go out to the movies, watch nightly TV shows, or unwind with video games, all of which drastically decrease overall sensitivity to violence.

To be fair, Henley’s views on the supposed desensitizing effects of violent entertainment appear to come primarily from the claims of longtime video game critic Dave Grossman. After spending a few paragraphs on violent TV and movies, Henley returns to video games:

What about these modern X-Box and online video games? While I happen to enjoy the "G" rated Wii, over 11 million people are spending their time engrossed in the World of Warcraft or Grand Theft Auto where the point is to go around and kill people in a calculated way. Tell me again why this is supposed to be fun and relaxing?
 
It's time to put torture in its place as unacceptable, period, both in our nation's military practices, and in our nation's entertainment standards.

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Correspondent Andrew Eisen...

Developer Addresses Fallujah Game Cancellation, Questions Remain

May 1, 2009 -

It has only been a few days since publisher Konami bailed on the controversial Six Days in Fallujah, but the CEO of developer Atomic Games discussed the situation at the Triangle Game Conference in North Carolina this week.

As reported by the Raleigh News & Observer, Peter Tamte (left) said:

Every form of media has grown by producing content about current events, content that's powerful because it's relevant. Movies, music and TV have helped people make sense of the complex issues of our times.

Are we really just high-tech toymakers, or are we media companies capable of producing content that is as relevant as movies, music and television?

This is what brought us close to many of the Marines who fought in Fallujah. After they got back from Fallujah, these Marines asked us to tell their story. They asked us to tell their story through the most relevant medium of the day -- a medium they use the most -- and that is the video game.

'Six Days in Fallujah' is not about whether the U.S. and its allies should have invaded Iraq. It's an opportunity for the world to experience the true stories of the people who fought in one of the world's largest urban battles of the past half-century.

GP: Setting aside the issue of whether it's too soon for a Fallujah game, frankly, the P.R. surrounding Six Days was incredibly bungled from day one. There is no precedent for a game project to crater with such velocity. A mere three weeks passed from the initial article about the game in the L.A. Times to Konami's sudden withdrawal from the project.

Here are a few questions I'd like to see Peter Tamte to address:

  • Why was Six Days pegged as a "survival-horror" game, ala Silent Hill? Was that handed down by Konami? Such a designation indicates a shoot 'em-up scare-fest rather than the serious treatment of the Battle of Fallujah which Atomic claimed to be developing.
  • Why does Atomic keep pushing the line that Iraq war veterans were beating down its door, demanding that they create Six Days, when it has been definitively shown by One Last Continue that Destineer, which owns Atomic, filed to trademark the name a mere three months after the battle ended in December, 2004? Most Fallujah vets were likely still deployed at that time.
  • Why would Atomic consult with insurgents (if they actually did)? Whether such consultations took place or were simply hype, why would Atomic think this would be a positive thing to announce? The insurgents were killing and maiming U.S. personnel in Iraq for years with a devastating IED campaign and even occasionally decapitating U.S. prisoners. I'm of the opinion that this piece of radioactive P.R. was the tipping point in Konami's decision to bail.
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XBL Community Game Mixes Platform Action, Puzzles and Politics

April 30, 2009 -

We're intrigued by Clover, a nearly-done Xbox Live Community game which its creator says was heavily influenced by the prelude to the war in Iraq.

While we don't want to give too much away, Deejay, who heads Binary Tweed, added:

The game is loaded with references to speeches by George W. Bush and Tony Blair, as well as references to World War II and September 11th...

Clover is set in a pseudo-Tudor monarchy with a welfare state, experiencing increased security measures after an act of foreign aggression, in which the lead character's mother has died.

To make things just a bit more interesting, the Clover web site has apparently been viewed by both the Central Intelligence Agency and the United States Army Information Systems Command.

That's a bit spooky...

While no official launch date has been set, Clover should be available in early May for 400 XBL points.

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Troubled by Controversy, Konami Drops Six Days in Fallujah

April 27, 2009 -

News has come from Japan that Konami is dropping plans to publish Six Days in Fallujah, the controversial Iraq War game based on the bloody 2004 battle.

Quoting an unnamed P.R. rep, Asahi Shimbun reports that negative reaction to the game in the United States drove Konami's decision:

After seeing the reaction to the videogame in the United States and hearing opinions sent through phone calls and e-mail, we decided several days ago not to sell it. We had intended to convey the reality of the battles to players so that they could feel what it was like to be there.

North Carolina-based Atomic Games is developing Six Days in Fallujah in association with some veterans of the war. It seems likely that the firm will now seek a deal with a new publishing partner.

Six Days in Fallujah was plagued by negative publicity from the moment that it was announced last month. Family members of war dead denounced the game in both the U.S. and U.K. And while some gamers who are Iraq War veterans expressed an interest in playing Six Days, others were outraged. Dan Rosenthal, who publishes the GamesLaw blog and who fought in Iraq, told GamePolitics:

In order to make the game fun... it simply has to sacrifice some amount of realism for fun factor.  When you do that with a war game based on a real war, with real people, you run the risk of dishonoring their memories and sacrifices, and I think that this game has a dangerous potential to do that.

Perhaps the most damning piece of news about Six Days in Fallujah, however, was a developer's cryptic comment that Iraqi insurgents were contributing to the project.

Via: VG247

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Six Days in Fallujah Reminds Writer of GoW... Euro Release in Question

April 15, 2009 -

The controversy over Konami's Six Days in Fallujah rages on...

Nick Breckon of Shacknews attended Konami's recent Gamer's Night and offers some observations about the much-discussed Iraq War game:

It was apparent that Six Days is not aiming for a very realistic take on modern warfare... considering the extensive marketing on the point of realism, I certainly didn't expect to see soldiers running out into the middle of the street during a firefight, taking a half-dozen bullets in the chest, and then regenerating their health safely behind cover...

 

In fact, from what Konami showed us, Six Days is far closer to Gears of War than America's Army. It has the same Gears D-pad weapon selection, the same style of cover system, and the same action-oriented gameplay...

Meanwhile, Joystiq reports that the flap over Six Days in Fallujah may keep it from being released in Europe:

During Konami's Gamer's Day in Frankfurt last week, unnamed representatives for the publisher told GamePro.de that they were waiting to see how Atomic Games would portray the brutal battle for Fallujah before deciding if the game would see a European release. Representatives also told De Telegraaf that it was unclear what the level of violence would be in the "documentary-style" shooter.

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Insurgents Contributing to "Six Days in Fallujah" Says Developer

April 14, 2009 -

Just when you thought Six Days in Fallujah couldn't get any more controversial...

The developer of Six Days in Fallujah told attendees at Konami's recent Gamers' Night event that Iraqi insurgents are contributing to the project along with U.S. Marines and Iraqi civilians.

Joystiq's Randy Nelson has a detailed report, including the startling remarks by Atomic Games president Peter Tamte:

It's important for us to say, you know, that there are actually three communities that are very affected by the battle for Fallujah. Certainly the Marines. Certainly the Iraqi civilians within Fallujah, and the insurgents as well. We are actually getting contributions from all three of those communities so that we can get the kind of insight we're trying to get.

I need to be careful about the specifics that I give... I think all of us are curious to know why [insurgents] were there. The insurgents [came from] different countries. And I think we're all kind of curious about you know - they went there knowing that they were going to die... And I think that that's a perspective that we should all understand.

[Insurgents are] involved in the creation of the game as well, as are Iraqi civilians. That's important to us. It's true. The game -- the influences for the game came from the Marines that returned from Fallujah. But quite frankly in talking with them, it's um, many people would just like this to be a recreation and we can't recreate that without getting the perspectives of all the people who were involved.

Although Tamte doesn't give a straightforward answer to whether or not Atomic has actually communicated with insurgents, his comments indicate that some type of input has taken place. It's unclear whether that input was direct or indirect.

The news that there is an insurgent perspective is likely to provoke renewed outrage among some Iraq War veterans as well as families of military personnel killed and wounded in the conflict. Dan Rosenthal, a veteran of the war who now operates the gameslaw.net site, reacted strongly to word of Six Days in Fallujah's insurgent perspective:

Absolutely unbelievable that Peter Tamte and [creative director] Juan Benito would try to make an "entertainment" experience about a war that we're actively fighting, while soliciting advice and input on how to best kill Marines in game, from people who have worked to kill Marines in real life. The hypocrisy and double-speak coming out of Atomic's leadership is beyond unbelievable. 

 

The game is a "communications tool".....a communications tool for who? The insurgency? And then out of the other corner of their mouths, they try to pass the game off as a "telling of stories"; but that's a rude slap in the face to the approximately 100 Marines who died in the battles of Fallujah when the "story-telling" game includes Halo-style health regeneration. I'm pretty sure I don't remember that being standard issue when I was in Iraq.

GP: We're struggling to recall another game that generated this much controversy this early in its development cycle.

90 comments

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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Andrew EisenMarvel has replaced Manara on the variant covers for Thor #2 and Avengers and X-Men: AXIS #1. I hope I'm wrong but I don't think Marvel is learning the right lesson here.09/23/2014 - 6:26pm
quiknkoldI'm 7 years old, and my cousin(Also 7, maybe 8 at this time) tells me has Battletoads. its Summer Vacation. We play and play and play until finally, We won coop. Those were the days.09/23/2014 - 5:29pm
quiknkoldlets take a moment to share some gaming memories, shall we?09/23/2014 - 5:28pm
MechaTama31I buy stuff off the eshop because it gives me the convenience of a flashcart without the guilt.09/23/2014 - 5:03pm
Montewell thanks for the info Eisen; try that the next time i need something off the eshop09/23/2014 - 3:54pm
james_fudgere: MP, i've sent tech support a note - thank you :)09/23/2014 - 3:14pm
IanCNah that wasnt directed at you Andrew :)09/23/2014 - 3:00pm
Papa MidnightRe: SIEGE 2014 Keynote: oh dear...09/23/2014 - 2:44pm
MaskedPixelanteDear GP, something called "doubleverify" is causing some nasty browser issues on my end. Probably one of your ads.09/23/2014 - 2:36pm
Andrew EisenOh hell no. No, it took Nintendo a dog's age just to get to the point its competitors have been at for a while! (And it's still not there yet, in a lot of respects.)09/23/2014 - 2:26pm
IanCSame as PSN handles it, fi you are trying to say only nintendo do that.09/23/2014 - 2:23pm
Andrew EisenYou have to try to purchase something first. Pick a game, hit purchase and if your wallet doesn't have enough to cover it, you'll be given an option to "add exact funds" or something like that.09/23/2014 - 2:05pm
MonteI have seen no option for that on my 3DS; anytime i want to add funds it only gives me the option to add in denominations of $10, 20, 50 or 10009/23/2014 - 2:03pm
IanCWhat Andrew Wilson said. PSN is the same when you make a purchase over a certain price (£5 in the UK)09/23/2014 - 2:02pm
Andrew EisenNeither eShop charges sales tax either. At least in California.09/23/2014 - 2:00pm
Andrew EisenBoth Wii U and 3DS eShops allow you to add funds in the exact amount of whatever's in your shopping cart. If your game is $39.99, you can add exactly $39.99.09/23/2014 - 1:57pm
Infophile@Matthew Wilson: As I understand it, any regulations to force tax online would also set up an easy database for these stores to use, minimizing overhead.09/23/2014 - 1:30pm
MonteReally, the eshop just does next to nothing to make buying digitally advantagous for the customer. Its nice to have the game on my 3DS, but i can get more for less buying a physical copy at retail. And that's not even counting buying used09/23/2014 - 1:18pm
MonteIanC, The Eshop wallet system only lets you add funds in set denominations and the tax makes sure you no longer have round numbers so you ALWAYS loose money. A $39.99 game for instance requires you to add $50 instead of just $4009/23/2014 - 1:13pm
Matthew Wilsonbut thats just it those sites, even the small ones, sell all over the country.09/23/2014 - 11:12am
 

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