Gamers to spend Six Days in Fallujah
Wargames are about to break new ground in their evolution, as Konami Digital Entertainment and Atomic Games prepare for the 2010 release of “Six Days in Fallujah,” a shooter akin to other first-person affairs that game players have been familiar with for some time, but with a shockingly real twist. To borrow a phrase from the advertisements of various cop and court dramas, it is indeed “ripped from the headlines.” So deep is the intended realism for the game that Atomic Games’ producers have tapped returning soldiers for their own stories while in service in Iraq.
Indeed, ‘Six Days’ is being billed as a true-to-life depiction of Operation Phantom Fury during the second battle of Fallujah. While other games have been released by other groups, including MTVu/Viacom and Gamelab, to bring up social issues, Atomic Games dismisses those other games as ‘historical fiction.’
The game actually tracks and relates their experiences, and is intended to be more of a ‘documentary’ than simply a piece of electronic entertainment. A game-amentary, as Atomic likes to put it. Peter Tamte, president of Atomic Games, related to the Wall Street Journal that ‘Six Days’ is intended to “replicate a specific and accurate timeline — we mean six days literally,” says Mr. Tamte. “We track several units through the process and you get to know what it was like from day to day.”
Sergeant Eddie Garcia, a Marine sergeant and Purple Heart recipient who was wounded during the first days of fighting in Fallujah, has been a consultant for Atomic Games from the beginning of the project. While many military-themed games make use of consultants to maintain accuracy in their presentation, Garcia’s experiences make their way into ‘Six Days’ with much more detail and clarity.
Aside from tweaking how soldiers communicate with their superiors, and walking developers through the battle tactics that marines used on the battlefield, Garcia provided Atomic Games with his diary – one similar to those that many soldiers kept while in the field, to detail notes about their positions and activities each day. In one instance, Garcia noted the exact time and place where he launched an illumination flare, which will later be incorporated into the game.
The team at Atomic even found it necessary to build a new game engine, to incorporate the Marines’ fighting style. Instead of barging in through the front door, Marines in Fallujah would choose to knock down the concrete and rebar buildings with bulldozers or by calling in air strikes. This heavy use of destructible environment is immediately apparent in-game. The quality, and the advances in this technology will also go toward creating new training simulators for the military.
The announcement of the game has drawn some criticism from industry professionals, pundits and military alike. The recent news that Atomic Games would be consulting with former insurgents in some manner during the production of the game has had some sitting up in their seats. Some say that it’s too soon, ‘Six Days’ will be the first game on the ongoing war in Iraq, and will also carry the distinction of being the first game based on a simultaneously occurring event.
Recently G4TV interviewed some currently active duty personnel in Army and Marines, and asked for their take on the game. Most common among interviewees were views expressed and shared by U.S. Army Sgt. Casey McGeorge, who said “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.”
And perhaps McGeorge is correct in this regard – since the Vietnam Conflict, American military conflict has been portrayed in the media as something other than humanistic, that the actions taken during battle are somehow removed from the people involved. And perhaps, the interactive nature of the game, placing players right in the middle of the firefight in Fallujah, may give them a different understanding of the situation.
However, despite the documentary-style portrayal of the battle in Fallujah, ‘Six Days’ does lack one aspect of the documentary – and that is commentary.
“We’re not trying to make 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,” says Anthony Crouts, vice-president of marketing for Konami, the game’s publisher. “At the end of the day, it’s just a game.”