Atomic CEO defends Six Days in Fallujah

Says the game is culturally relevant, questions if game devs are "just toymakers"

Atomic Games CEO Peter Tamte has defended the studio's military simulation Six Days in Fallujah, saying that the game is culturally relevant while questioning whether videogames can reach the same artistic merits as other mediums.

During a keynote address at the Triangle Game Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina on April 30, Tamte implied that Six Days in Fallujah - a realistic military simulation centered around an infamously bloody late 2004 US Military offensive against Iraqi insurgents - is a pioneering title that will raise the artistic level of videogames.

"Every form of media has grown by producing content about current events, content that's powerful because it's relevant," said Tamte, as reported by The News & Observer. "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?" he continued.

Tamte also responded to media backlash against the possibly insensitive nature of the game, saying that "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 videogame."

"Six Days in Fallujah is not about whether the US and its allies should have invaded Iraq," Tamte continued. "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."

Six Days in Fallujah was first unveiled at a press event held in early April by Konami, the game's then-publisher. Later that month, Konami pulled out of its publishing agreement after a significant amount of public backlash, most if it by families of soldiers who died during the conflict. Tamte's keynote was given mere days after Konami's cancellation announcement.

The fate of the game remains uncertain, with Tamte telling that "Development of the game had been progressing very well and on schedule. We would very much like the opportunity to complete the game."

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Latest comments (7)

Dan Marchant Business Development, Strawdog Studios12 years ago
I think it's sad that our industry (or rather the Publishers) are happy to court controversy by hiring a porn star to act as "Producer" on a game like Saint's Row 2 but run scared of real, worthwhile controversy as in this case. War is an important issue on a political and personal level and it would be nice if games were able to address these matters. -1 for Konami on this one.
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D12 years ago
What Dan said.

I watched Generation Kill, the HBO show, this weekend. I read the book when it came out, and found that the series was actually pretty good. You have US troops questioning the policies of the US in Iraq, you have innocent civilians getting killed (the father who doesn't stop when a warning shot is fired at his car, and the death of his daughter as a result - the father apologises, one marine turns to the other and says "why is he the one apologising when we've just shot his daughter?"). On the flip side there's the anger when captured marines are mutilated by Iraqi Fedayeen. All in all, one ****ed up situation.

So it's okay for TV to do it, but not games. When games could do it so much better.

Who knows, maybe a British developer could step up to the plate and do one based on the paras in Helmand.
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Mat Bettinson Business Development Manager, Tantalus Media12 years ago
I think, to be fair, in games it wont get anything like a balanced considered exposure - it'll be role playing with some of these aspects playing out as a narrative but mostly, it'll be good guys and bad guys. And that, for some, is a bit too close to the bone when it comes to Iraq.

Not saying that's my view, but I really don't think it's fair to point at the excellent Generation Kill as some example of how Iraq might play out as a subject in games. You know it wont do.
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Pete Leonard , Amiqus12 years ago
I totally agree that this kind of topic is type of compelling content that interactive media should be aiming for.

But....I'm not 100% sure that games are mature enough yet to deal with this particular sensitive subject THIS close to when it actually happened.
Movies do this sure, but they are more than 100 years old and have taken small moves over that time so that they can now develop films like 'W' even when the president is still in office (and that caused quite the stir even now).

I personally would still love to see it. How the developers attempted to bill this brand of survival horror as experiencing real life horror could (if handled correctly) put players in terrifying situations of conflict and uncertainty that the soldiers would have faced in Nov-Dec 2004, and provide some education in the process as to this particular situation.
But even with the very best of intentions, if it doesn't come across quite right, certain spreadsheets and tabloids looking for a horse to flog would have a field day with it.

There's equal arguments on this one and as such I'm kind of on the fence.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Pete Leonard on 7th May 2009 1:50pm

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Chris Kolmatycki Game Designer, HB Studios12 years ago
There's nothing wrong with the game. The only problem is that people's emotions are still strong on the issue. I doubt Konami pulled out because of their own ethical reservations, but more because of their bottom line being affected by the ethical reservations of their customers. It's all well and good to be at the forefront of breaking new artistic ground, but when it costs you millions in sales for both this game and future games, I find it hard to blame a publisher for caving.
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Alex Wright-Manning Head of Recruitment, Splash Damage Ltd12 years ago
I agree with you Pete, this sort of story has Daily Mail headline written all over it.

I can fully understand the reasoning behind Konami distancing themselves, but am hugely disappointed that the opportunity to cover a real-life, current subject on what is arguably the media channel of the 21st century - game platforms, has been wasted by fear of a backlash. Let's hope Atomic can still get it released.
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David Braben Chairman, Frontier Developments12 years ago
I have not seen the game, but there is clearly a huge challenge to match the way the subject matter is treated in say, film, without at least the appearance of trivialising those who experienced it for real. That is not to say it shouldn't be done - quite the opposite - as long as it is done well, but expect a backlash, as film has also recieved in the past for "glorifying"/"trivialising" real life horrific events - even for pretty seemingly straightforward disasters like the hoo-har over the 1958 Titanic film "A Night to Remember".

It was clearly a difficult decision for Konami - it is a shame they didn't manage to get one of the Marines that asked them to tell their story this way to speak out, but I do hope they asked.

To move forward as an industry we need to be able to deal with contemporary issues like this in a sensible way, as Dan says, but we should also remember that the journalists likely to be howling about this game are also worried about games moving into 'their' space, as games grow at the expense of other media.
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