Game Over: Konami cancels plan for ‘Six Days in Fallujah’
April 29, 2009
TOKYO — Amid harsh criticism from some veterans, citizen groups and the survivors of fallen servicemembers, Konami Digital Entertainment said it will not publish the controversial "Six Days in Fallujah," a video game depicting one of bloodiest battles in Iraq.
"After gathering and reviewing various opinions, both against and for, we decided from comprehensive perspective, that our company would not handle the product," Konami spokesman Shigeyuki Honma told Stars and Stripes on Tuesday.
Although several media reported that Konami had planned to release the game in 2010, the Tokyo-based company said it had been in the process of reviewing the game and had not set a release date.
Honma said the project was being reviewed not as a video game but as a documentary, and possibly a new field for the company to expand into, he said.
"The theme for the product was to offer our customers the opportunity to feel what it was like to be at war in Iraq," he said.
More than 2,000 people, including Iraqi civilians, were killed during the monthlong battle in November 2004.
Being developed by American game company Atomic Games, with input from dozens of Marines who served in the battle, as well as Iraqi civilians and insurgents, "Six Days in Fallujah" was introduced earlier this month during an event in the U.S. for video game magazines.
The title quickly drew fire from various individuals and organizations, who accused the companies of trying to cash in on the infamous battle.
Honma said Konami received numerous phone calls and e-mails concerning the game, both in the United States and Japan.
He said that the U.S. was a major target market for the product.
"We had seriously reviewed the product, not from a profit-pursuing stance, but as a possibility for our company to venture into a new field," he reiterated.
However, not everyone was convinced of the motives.
"If Konami wants to treat this as a game, it should own up to it and stop hiding behind the thin lie that this is a documentary in any sense of the word," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Clifton Nelson, in a letter to the editor published in Stripes on April 22.
Nelson is a yeoman currently deployed to Al Asad, Iraq.
"To justify its existence by saying there are other war-based games on the market doesn’t make it any more justifiable," he wrote. "There are several better ways to handle this subject with taste, honor and integrity."
Shopping for new games Tuesday at the Yokota Air Base Exchange, airmen from the base’s 374th Security Forces Squadron said that as both gamers and servicemembers they felt that Konami made the right call.
A fan of military-themed games, especially the "Call of Duty" series, Airman 1st Class Anthony Garcia said that while he personally isn’t opposed to a game like "Six Days in Fallujah" he can see why many people could be upset.
"When people are actively dying in a war you don’t want to put out a game about it," he said.
Garcia added that while realism is very important to him in games, he feels that there should still be a certain degree of fantasy. As an example, he pointed to the popular 2007 title "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare," which has several levels showing Marines in intense urban combat, albeit in an unnamed, fictional Middle Eastern country.
Games are played for their entertainment value, said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Wandlow, a veteran of three tours to Iraq. He said he felt that a game based on a battle as recent and bloody as Fallujah "doesn’t really lend itself to being fun."
He also said that the developer’s intention to show a battle from an impartial, documentary-style perspective seems to clash with the basic concept of a video game.
"Games are interactive in nature, so you’re going to have an impact on the outcome of what happens," he said.
Airman 1st Class Joseph Newman agreed that the timing of the game isn’t the best.
"I don’t see anything wrong with the concept of the game," he said. "But maybe they should wait a few years from now to release it."
Stars and Stripes reporter Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this story.