Konami Making Iraq Video Game, Cops Out With ‘It’s Just A Game’

Iraq

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.

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17 Comments

Filed under Rambling Man

17 responses to “Konami Making Iraq Video Game, Cops Out With ‘It’s Just A Game’

  1. eznark

    Sure it’s possible, but it will take a lot of time. We aren’t even ready for Vietnam games yet, if the market is any indicator.

    World War II was an incredibly controversial war with polarizing opinions about its proposal, execution and resolution.

    It’s all about timing.

  2. I believe that they want to make this as accurate as possible, but I doubt they’ll give the Iraqi side of the story the same weight. That doesn’t sound like a very good documentary to me.

    They’re just covering their asses.

    I briefly mentioned it on my blog a few hours ago: http://lazarofraga.com/2009/04/game-amentary/

  3. It’s sad that no one seems to want to take a stance on the Iraq war. It’s not even like they’re trying to portray an unbiased look at the war, leaving the player to come to their own conclusions, they’re just trying to cover their ass. “It’s just a game”? Are they even taking what they’re doing seriously? They can’t have that much invested in what they’re doing if they can just write it off like that. Sad.

    This article hits close to home, as I did a body of work about the war in Iraq (and war in general). I did it to make a statement, but then again, “It’s just art”: http://is.gd/o6iY

  4. I certainly cringed when I read that quote earlier, but I could understand where he is coming from.

    It is marketing speak first and foremost; Crouts is speaking in a professional capacity on behalf of the game, and since this article is tantamount to an announcement of the game itself, what he says now will color future coverage and perception of the game. And the game’s subject matter limits the appeal to a primarily American audience, so he can’t risk alienating potential consumers for the product he is representing.

    (On the other hand, the ostensibly critical and subversive Army of Two apparently did rather boffo biz in more conservative markets.)

  5. Mac

    I don’t really agree with how you ended this post. I understand how Iraq is more relevant to people because it is happening now, but when you say:

    “If you’re making a game about Iraq, you’re making a game about the war one of my best friends came back from.”

    Maybe this has a more personal connection with you, but for some of us just replace ‘Iraq’ with ‘Vietnam’ or ‘WWII’ in your quote above and you have a war where our best friends, fathers, relatives, etc have come back from.

    This might be an issue that has touched home for you, nevertheless many people have already experienced this emotion. In the end it rests on the developer’s shoulders to create a game that does not disrespect the parties involved.

  6. If people have connected feelings with the war than they simply don’t have to play it. Its an option. Support it or not. I like seeing Konami be bold. Games should be able to go anywhere. Who’s right is it to say it can’t or shouldn’t be made? I have more of a problem with the propaganda films of the Iraq war more than anything else but they have a right to be produced so I deal with it by not watching them.

  7. pk

    @Mac
    You’re absolutely right. In principle, there’s no difference from the reaction I’m having to Six Days In Fallujah’s setting than Medal of Honor’s World War II backdrop, but you have to admit that given the demographics, more present-day gamers have raw emotional context to what’s happened the last seven years in Iraq than what happened in Vietnam or World War II. In my experience, anyway. That’s why Iraq hits closer to home.

    @Xcite79
    Naming Iraq, in and of itself, a bold move. It’s the subsequent marketing speak out of Konami’s side that backs away from such boldness when slapped side-by-side with a quote from a developer that clearly believes (or says) video games could do more.

  8. Pingback: Just own it « Word Games

  9. off topic:
    why do you hide your rss feed ???

  10. Nick

    Their explanation of why they would want to publish a game like this makes perfect sense. When music and movies, among plenty of other forms of mass media, can present their opinions and views, why can’t video game designers? If you were to say that video game designers cannot express their views, then why should other forms of mass media be allowed to? It just wouldn’t make sense.

    Yes, I realize that this will put the player directly into the war. It will be far more graphic and realistic than a song or a book, i agree. But that’s exactly the point! The fact is, the designer WANTS the player to take his view. The attrocities occuring within the game are meant to depict the despicible acts that are actually happening in a war. The designer WANTS the player to feel uncomfortable. The soldiers feel uncomfortable, no doubt, so why shouldn’t the player in such a video game, especially if the designer wants the player to take up his views about the war? Personally, I feel this is the perfect way to get people to take on an opinion, especially one such as this.

    Have you ever seen the movie “The Kingdom”? That’s what this reminds me of. I remember a lot of people saying that the director shouldn’t have put many things into the movie that he did, because it would “make people feel uncomfortable”. After seeing the movie for myself, I felt uncomfortable for sure! And that’s exactly what the director had intended.

    Personally, I say go for it to the designer of this game. What’s he’s doing is perfectly in his rights, and is the genuinely wise thing to do.

  11. Chris

    Ultimately, the main goal in making a game is to sell it and bring in the most money. Seeing a game titled “Iraq” will instantly draw attention. After all, Iraq has already gotten so much publicity that the game is already half sold to the audience. I would say, this game is brilliant. Having the two words: Konami and Iraq = 4 million copies + sold already.

    Ultimately, I doubt any flak this game gets will damage it’s sells. In fact, a good amount of flak would probably make it sell better. After all, ultimately, flak is publicity no matter how negative.

    Personally, as a hardcore gamer, I’m really hyped up about this game. Modern Warfare was a great game and I’m more then ready to play another game of the same genre and setting. I’m already sick of World War II games and games before that are just plain boring as they only have 1 or 2 weapon types. After playing 20 games in a row with the exact same guns: M1 Grand, Thompson, Kar98, Gweher, Bar, Mp90, Springfield, and so on; a new modern warfare first person shooter based in desert Iraq is a god send. Yea, I’m aware of Metal Gear Solid and Ghost Recon. But all of these games combine probably only have maybe 30 hours of single player game play.

  12. Daljeet Singh Maan

    These r real heroes of world.NOBODY CAN PAY ‘EM BACK WHAT THEY GIVES US.

  13. Sandra

    Well what I think of the making of this so call game, I think that its stupid because I really don’t think that everyone knows exactly what this war is mainly about! And about Iraq? Humm, its not like we have a chance now for them to be free or help them try and have a civil government!!! And our U.S Military are just out there getting killed, and now they are saying that they want to make a stupid video game? Why can’t people open up their eyes and see what this is really all about… I just think that its going to be pointless. Do you really think that it would sell? Yeah maybe for a little while, but look at it this way, how many people have you see hurt over their loss of a loved one that was fighting for our own country. And to think that they want it on a video game?

  14. Ben

    Hmm… I was there. I think people fail to realize that U.S. has an ALL volunteer military. Everybody swore the same oath and knew what they were getting to when they signed up. It definitely isn’t easy, but that is war. It isn’t supposed to be easy. Were you expecting it to be easy and a frolic through the flowers? THAT IS WAR. Sacrifice from everyone is a requirement. Cry over the loss of a few of your luxuries and then look at the people oppressed by dictators and terrorist. I may not want to play this game, but I give them props. Its their right to be able to do that. To say that they are over dying for no reason is an insult to me and everyone I worked with. of course you’ve already decided if you have to make a sacrifice it isn’t worth it. Forget about helping other people. What about me? You have no idea the improvement Iraq has made since Sadaam was in power. Iraq is already operating with its own government. Almost all of the figthing against insurgents is by Iraqi Army and Police now. If you dare say that none of the Iraqis appreciate the difference you are sadly mistaken. Some are prideful and refuse help, but I feel confident that the majority benefited. You have no idea how many relationships were built up. Was it hard to get to this point? yes, very and it has taken a lot of work and sacrifice from people all over. Was it worth it? Maybe not in a tangible way for the american people, but definitely for the Iraqi people. The video game is a touchy subject, but thats their right. You better believe I’d play that game.

  15. the American Hater

    Hey Fuck U All Mother Fucker Get The Hell Out Of Our Land We Never Ever Need U We Have OurSelves To Free
    And We Will Die for Free
    And God With Us
    Im Iraqi And Proud

  16. This post couldnt be more on the money!

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