Six Days in Fallujah

BY Andrew Miesner / April 8, 2009

A controversial new game asks the question: What is it like to be fighting in Iraq?

An article in the Los Angeles Times explores an interesting new game that has caused quite a stir of controversy:

The war in Iraq has many people’s opinions in different places. While some people enjoy books and documentaries, others enjoy music and movies. Those are not the only way to find out about Iraq, at least not for long.

A group of US Marines who were in Iraq at the time of the battle in Fallujah decided they would try and make a video game out of their experiences. These US Marines came back to the US with footage, vivid images and gruesome memories. They wanted a new way to get this out to the public, so they contacted a company in New York, Atomic Games. Atomic games create military based combat games, so they were the perfect choice.

Wars have inspired great ideas throughout history. Many big named pieces of literature and media are based of wars, such as: The Iliad, Saving Private Ryan and All Quiet on the Western Front. There are many more pieces, but those are just a few popular ones.

The reason the marines who came up with the idea decided to make it into a video game is quoted here:  The soldiers wanted to tell their stories through a game because that’s what they grew up playing,” said John Choon, senior brand manager for the game at Konami Digital Entertainment in El Segundo, the publisher of Six Days in Fallujah. “Video games can communicate the intensity and the gravity of war to an audience who wouldn’t necessarily be watching the History Channel or reading about this in the classroom,” said Ergo, now 26 and a junior at the University of California at Berkeley. “In an age when everyone’s always online or playing games, people’s imaginations aren’t what they were, sadly. For this group, books may not convey the same level of intensity and chaos of war that a game can.”

The game is scheduled to release sometime next year. In the game you are playing as a U.S. Soldier over several days, in a third person combat system. When you first step into the game, it may remind you of Medal of Honor or Call of Duty with its realistic touch, but do not be fooled, it is a little more unique. The primary goal to separate and make this game more unique from others was stated in a press conference by Atomic game’s president, Peter Tamte:

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.

Atomic Games wanted to remain unbiased in the creation of the game. They did not want to make you feel bad for the Iraqi citizens, nor the U.S. soldiers. The decision of wrong and right strictly lies within the hands of the gamer. The game retells the story of the marines through several different points of view. One marine’s leg was shredded in a mortar attack, and it shows how he was taken out of combat due to his guiltiness. Another marine was quickly writing a letter to his wife and asked people to send it off if he were to die. This game will take on several people’s outlooks and what happened in their eyes and make a story of it.

Benito explains why such a gruesome and upsetting game will be so fun. “It’s about having a challenge, then formulating a plan to overcome that challenge,” said Benito, who co-founded Red Storm Entertainment, the developer behind games based on Tom Clancy novels. “Overcoming that difficulty is a big part of the fun.”

A difficulty faced in Iraq is what we would call “War Crime.” Soldiers are put on the spot, having to decide whether they are a civilian or an insurgent and have to make the decision in a matter of seconds. Let’s face it; sometimes it is the wrong one. “Our opportunity for giving people insight goes up dramatically when we can present people with the dilemmas and the choices that faced these soldiers,” Tamte said. “It’s a chance to really give them a better understanding and empathy.”

Source: LA Times Blog