Thursday, April 30, 2009

Controversy: Six Days in Fallujah

I think it's time that I spend a little time talking about the recent controversy over Six Days in Fallujah, a game that was recently dropped by publisher Konami. The game was being developed by Atomic Games.

The reason there is controversy over this game is pretty interesting actually. It's not the actual content of the game that's come under fire. It's an action game that takes place in Iraq, maybe not the most tasteful subject, but it's certainly one that has been done before. The problem comes from how the devs and Konami initially tried to pitch it. It was touted as a hyper-realistic game all about the seriousness of war. A big pitching point of the game was that the developers interviewed American soldiers who were actually in the battle the game is supposed to be about. You were going to follow one squad through the second battle for fallujah in a documentary-esque video game. I think that's a really great idea, executed right.

Now on the one hand they have it pitched as this intense realistic game about war. On the other hand you've got Konami marketing VP Anthony Crouts saying something like, "We're not pro-war. We're not trying to make people feel uncomfortable. We just want to bring a compelling entertainment experience. At the end of the day, it's just a game."

At the end of the day, it's just a game? Man, are you that out of touch? I tend not to get worked up about these sort of things, but this kind of ignorance is unexcusable from somebody who is supposed to be marketing this thing. If you think you're game can try and pretend to be a serious game about war, but really just be about mowing down faceless soldiers and taking clips of bullets to the chest unflinchingly, you are seriously mistaken.

Obviously, there was some serious bumbling on the marketing aspect of this game, Shacknews covered that really well and I'm not going to hammer the point in anymore, but I am going to point something else out. As soon as the controversy began, Konami immediately dropped the project. I mean this game wasn't announced more than a month before Konami washed there hands of it. Regardless of the legitmacy of the controversy, it raises an important question about publishers. If we want to make something of real merit with some controversy, not only do we need to worry about public reaction but good luck getting the industry itself behind you.

It's a little depressing for the Triple A side of things, but it certainly chalks one up for the indies.