Konami Drops Fallujah: Are Games the Best Medium for War?

atomicgames_image

After a stormy reception by military groups and a Konami Gamers Night in which Six Days in Fallujah was a key highlight in its presentation, Konami has officially dropped the publishing rights to Six Days in Fallujah, reports The Asahi Shimbun today. [UPDATE: Konami returned my calls today to report that it has officially dropped Six Days in Fallujah. Officially. Really.]

The Asahi Shimbun quoted a Konami representative who confirmed the company dropped it, saying, “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,” a Konami official told the outlet.

We called Konami and were met with a strict “No comment” to all questions. However, Atomic Games gave mixed messages. Public relations Manager Jeremy Zoss said, “Right now we don’t have any comment, but we should have one in the next couple of days.” A second Atomic employee confirmed over the phone Konami is no longer publishing the game. “That’s right,” she told us, “Konami is not publishing it.”

In the next couple days, Atomic is likely to go on the road and pitch Six Days in Fallujah, a first-person shooter that re-creates the realism of the battle in Iraq using former military personnel’s journals and reports including interviews in the game.

One must wonder why Konami dropped Six Days in Fallujah. Did the game draw controversial attention beyond what the publisher had expected? Probably. Did the game look and play as well as Konami expected? The game I saw was early and didn’t look terribly impressive, but to be fair the title isn’t due until 2o10. How much research did Konami do internally and externally before acquiring the publishing rights? Apparently Konami is a more conservative company than even Konami thought it was.

Did the public’s reaction have an influence on Konami’s decision? Clearly, yes; the game has already been in development for about two years.

Games based on World War II re-create a war that’s a generation or two away, making it easier to swallow, as evidenced by the success of Medal of Honor and Call of Duty. The rash of Vietnam games that quickly came and went in 2004 drew some criticism, too, but again because that war had been over for more than 30 years, the raw emotions involved in it had simmered down.

The Iraq War has been controversial since the beginning, based on the notion that Iraq President Saddam Hussein’s government had developed the capacity to develop nuclear bombs. That premise changed when the US government found no such evidence. More to the point, however, the Iraq war is still going on, and soldiers are still dying because of it.

The question that Konami apparently didn’t ask itself was, “Do we feel comfortable making a first-person shooter based on a war that’s still in effect?” Perhaps some people felt comfortable about it, while others didn’t.

In an interview with Atomic Games at Konami’s Gamer Night, Peter Temte told us that Six Days in Fallujah is an important game because it takes a controversial issue and presents it in the medium of video games. “What better way to tell the story?” he asked. Atomic’s goal was to use the journals of several soldiers who wrote about the war, and to include their opinions and insights into the game, bookending missions and providing a human face to the levels.

Are video games the best way to tell the story of a war that’s still raging? Are they better or worse than a book, a TV series or a movie because they’re interactive? Do they under or misrepresent the reality of war? Will gamers trivialize the war because they can virtually kill terrorists?

2 Comments

Filed under Video Games

2 responses to “Konami Drops Fallujah: Are Games the Best Medium for War?

  1. I’m not saying that they don’t have a right to make a game about the subject matter, nor am I saying that playing a game about a sensitive subject is a bad thing. But personally? I have no desire to pick up and play a game about this subject while I still have friends over there whose lives are the reality this game is depicting. For me, there would never be a point where that could get fun.

    That may just be me, but I don’t think I’m the only one in that boat, and from a publishing standpoint, that makes it a difficult game to promote.

  2. Neelesh

    Well transiting the realism of war can be rather vexxed, since it focuses on issues that are society can link to current lives. The title of the game is the marked rhetoric that one actually needs to understand, since it objectifies the knowledge systems in accordance to real lives,groups who have attached feeling and emotions towards the incidents feel vehemently about it.

    The situation in the middle east has been depicted in numerous games, but more often than not they usually place the occurrence of events in fictional world bearing minor semblance to actual real situations. The aspect of fictionalizing a real world event and portraying it to masses has far less consequential events, than what the title signifies recreating the humiliation and deprivations caused by war on real life soldiers , civilians and combatants.

    Once the memories of war have far been repressed and with the passage of time when majority of society has come about to sensitize itself over such issues, bringing back such events may seem favorable which one sees in the games based on the second world war, serving as a reminder to the next generation that war has been a part of reconfiguration of the human body and mind and is not something that can be so easily discarded…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s