Most of the conversation about Resident Evil 5‘s portrayal of race has dissipated, but one of my biggest takeaways was an open open acknowledgement by many that gamers, games journalists, games writers and game makers must drop the excuse of “it’s just a game.”
Yet that’s exactly what Konami’s embracing while discussing about their compelling (sorry, Stephen) upcoming collaboration with Atomic Games, Six Days in Fallujah, with The Wall Street Journal. Unlike, say, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Six Days in Fallujah doesn’t pretend it’s not about Iraq — it is about Iraq, throwing players into the very battle described in its title. That’s heavy stuff, which Atomic Games president Peter Tamte seems to recognize.
“For us, games are not just toys. If you look at how music, television and films have made sense of the complex issues of their times, it makes sense to do that with videogames.”
That’s encouraging news, right? Finally! It’s refreshing to hear until you read how Six Days in Fallujah’s publisher talks about the game, following the Wall Street Journal describe how Atomic Games apparently isn’t trying to comment on the war, ala Michael Moore‘s psuedo-documentary Fahrenheit 9/11.
“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.”
“It’s just a game.”
Is it possible to experience the Iraq war on an interactive level without making someone uncomfortable? It’s a war with polarizing opinions about its proposal, execution and continuance. This game, while technically following moment-to-moment events based in fiction, is actively utilizing a setting with heated history…and that’s not supposed make us feel uncomfortable? I don’t follow. That works for World War II or Vietnam, when most players don’t have personal context. That’s not true anymore. If you’re making a game about Iraq, you’re making a game about the war one of my best friends came back from.
I’ve tried reaching out to Atomic Games to see if they can help reconcile my confusion between the two quotes. I’ll let you know if I hear back.