I think that the recent Spec Ops: The Line attempted to do something similar, in a thinly-veiled pastiche of warfighting in recent cities in the desert...
So the modern military shooter has pretty much taken over the world. Call of Duty's recent instalments have certainly proved that, busting sales records over and over and providing millions of gamers with millions of hours of entertainment. The 'hardcore' are getting tired of them, as are some members of the gaming press and, to be fair, saturation point is fast approaching, some say it has already been exceeded.
It is getting increasingly difficult to tell these games apart and for these titles to carve out their own niche in such a crowded market place, but one game from 2009 dared to try something different, to take a risk and tell the story of one of the most brutal battles of the modern era, it was called Six Days in Fallujah and to say it was controversial is a bit of an understatement.
The battle of Fallujah, of which there are two, focuses on the battle for control of the Iraqi city ofFallujahin 2004. I wont go into all the details of the event, but need less to say it was bloody and brutal. Sometime there after, members of the Third Battalion First marines who took part in the conflict asked Atomic games to create a title based on the event. Those marines helped the team at Atomic create training tools for theUSarmy, and asked them to create Six Days, even lending names and likenesses to the title.
The game was announced in April 2009 and immediately caused a stir, and not due to its amazing graphics engine, tight gameplay or gripping story. This controversy was caused by the fact the game was coming just a few years after the actual battle occurred and everyone saw it as an entertainment product. It wasn't.
Atomic games themselves described the game as a 'survival horror but not in the traditional sense', meaning that they wanted to show the horrifying nature of the battle and the tactics the insurgents used and how the Marines reacted to them. This game was trying to portray a real and devastating conflict in a way only video games can, and was ripped apart for it.
The publisher of the game, Konami, became scared of the controversy surrounding the game and pulled its publishing deal with Atomic later on in 2009. This was a mistake. As I have said before, games need to mature, and having a game that tells a real life story, based on something as raw as the Fallujah battles, would have gone a long way to help this cause. Konami became worried that the issues that arose after the games announcement would have too many people boycotting the company and not buying future titles, but I believe this wouldnt have happened.
If they had had the stones to stick to the publishing agreement, and let Atomic release the game they envisioned, sure some people would have boycotted them but not enough to cause a major problem for a publisher as prolific as Konami. After all, this is the company that gives us Metal Gear and other well known titles so while they would have been in the dog house for a while, it wouldnt have caused an issue.
Gamespot's own Tom Mcshea had an issue with the game, stating that it shouldnt feature regenerating health if it wanted to be the 'most accurate and realistic military game ever made'. To be fair, I do agree with this statement, however I also know certain liberties must be taken when creating a game - players need both a win and loose condition, on the whole.
The point is that Six Days explores what it would be like to be in that conflict. Movies do this all the time, The Hurt Locker for example told a story about bomb disposal units inIraqand had no such issues even though those units were operating, and still are, in the country.
Its a double standard, purely because films have been around longer. The interactive nature of Six Days meant everyone saw it as a game first and its actual status as almost a documentary of the battle not worth considering, which is stupid, and if Konami stuck to its guns and released the game, maybe they would have been hailed as the most forward thinking publisher, and a true force in the future of gaming.
Such issues need to be told through games, as well as books, movies and TV shows. The medium is a legitimate way of expressing personal opinion, historical facts, autobiographies and more. It needs to mature and grow and stupid decisions by scared business men hold it back.
Six Days in Fallujah may have been a rubbish game with something interesting to say. The rubbish game isn't the issue, its what it had to say and what it was trying to do. Carving out your own little bit of such a crowded market, especially one as saturated as modern military shooters, is hard to do at the best of times. Six Days would have done this with aplomb and helped move games along. Yes it was a risk, but it is one that more developers and publishers need to take.
Hopefully one day, someone will have the stones to release a title documenting a recent conflict and it will show the world just what gaming can do. We can but hope.
I also think it was a shame that this game was pulled as it could have been somthing special. I think at the time there was a lot of hoo-haa about the No Russian level in MW2 which didn't help.
you should try out the arma series. Its a simulator not a shooter.
They even have a community fallujah map based off satelitte photos for you (think its 40km by 40km large).
Yeah, I was actually looking forward to this one, more on the story side, been a while since shooters actually interested me. Though I have to say, Spec Ops: The Line did the story aspect really well, after playing that game I even further realized how great Six Days In Fallujah could have been.
While all other forms of media deal with horrific themes regularly, has gaming gotten to the stage where it can maturely and respectfully try and deal with them, I do not think so. People say that we should not view gaming as a toy but instead an art form and that is the issue here, how do you portray an interactive telling of events like Fallujah without removing the reality from them? Any game that touches on such things has to not trivialise them into entertainment and does anyone actually want to get close to knowing what being at Fallujah was like for all those involved?
*lose, not loose. Oh, and stones stones stones. Nice editing. It is a travesty this game never came out though. I'm by no means a huge fan of the genre, but this was shaping up to be a great game.
Playing fictional war games that deal with nuclear apocalypse (Fallout) or horror games that deal with human experimentation in jailed cells (RE) already invoked the terrors of war but most people are just so detached from reality when playing video games that they may not recognize it. That and the fact that some are just desensitized to violence or just don't notice it.
Many people have already been writing about the horrors of war.
Give your stones a rest there Danny...
Still a fps horror war shooter has yet exist, at least to my knowledge and I wouldn't mind playing one as long as things such as the mentioned regenerating health are taken into account.
I do remember a game that pulled bullets from wounds too as a heal mechanic but I don't remember the name.
Stuff like that is cool, maybe counting ammo clips and making reloading a minigame of sorts is a neat idea?? It definitely wouldn't be your traditional fps shooters that let you go in guns blazing and everything is standardize to maximize the fps gameplay area, making reloading instant and conserving ammo in clips irrelevant. Then there are the checkpoints which could penalize you by making your actual character die permanently and switch you into a different soldier. Once all the soldiers in the field are gone you are forced to go back to the last save which might be a while back just like the old games.
It might also be considered an experience than your regular gaming session which would be played for fun much like Heavy Rain.
Still it's a great idea
It was something real and not something like russian ultra nationalists or Iranis.It wasn't meant to be filled with explosions boat rides or collapsing buildings.It was based on the real emotional experiences faced by soldiers.something we don't get to see these days.Something like GOTY.
The Pentagon probably observed the accurate depictions in the game of civilians being murdered with illegal white phosphorus and other criminal war atrocities and underhandedly shut down funding for the title. Good riddance. Some things just shouldn't be playable. What's next, a shooter about the Holocaust?
COD and MOH keep it simple for the simple-minded American Warrior.
@wavelength121 Thats because you look at games and see a toy. People who actually realize what it is look at it and see art. Unfortunately we are yet to tap into a fragment of the potential possibilities that make this artistic medium unique and fascinating and lines of thought like your is whats holding it back.
While I don't agree that Six Days should have been made in the way it was (regenerating health, aiming first & foremost to be 'fun', etc), & possibly not made at all (not going to argue why considering the horrific comments section of Tom McShea's recent article), the concept of a modern war game as a survival horror is very appealing. It makes perfect sense for a conflict that isn't completely one-sided, although I'm not sure how such a game would be executed other than obvious changes in background music & lighting.
This is not my quote but it is from a conversation about this exact game and companies standing up to controversy.
"We are not toy makers. Our work can mean so much more than that... This will take real courage within our industry. It will take the bravery to face critique and the fortitude to wither ourcry. It will ask us to expose ourselves to short term financial risk and that and that we don't back down from early losses, firm in the knowledge that we are doing right. We will have to be steadfast under the scrutiny of the world and resolute when we are asked to justify ourselves in the court of public opinion. It will ask that, for the moment, we give up ease. But if we do this we can do good, real good with our medium. If we do this we can expand our industry and bring new genres into the purview of games. If we do this we can turn a greater profit while creating more meaningful experiences and reach audiences hither to unthinkable. If we do this we can perhaps elevate some small portion of our labor to an art. But if we do this will will no longer be able to pretend what we do isn't matter. If we do this we can never go back to the way it was before."
That's from Jame Portnow and the Extra Credits Team, they're worth a look.
When you look at Hotline Miami and think back to the gaming era from which it's design hails (yes, I was alive and sentient back then), there would have been senate hearings and sizable - if not massive - protests over a game with such gratuitous subject matter. Seriously. We would have thought it was created by Satan's hand. My, how times change.
I think the cycle moves much faster these days and the scant three years since the Fallujah controversy passed is, oddly enough, adequate time to gain perspective. It's pretty obvious, even to the casual observer that EA and Activision (and the developers under them) have lapped the field in terms of similar content and somehow side stepped all the vitriol. One has to remember, though, that Fallujah was the literal focal of point mounting troop deaths and the grizzly images of charred, desecrated and hanging military contractors' bodies were fresh in our brains at that point.
The one and only qualifier I would put on a game intending to allow interactive media to join the ranks of movies, plays and print in terms of covering hard hitting, real life issues and real deaths is to have the blessing and input from men and women who were actually there.
I don't think you would want to sell/make this game like a normal "videogame" more than a "simulation". I think that it's pretty obvious why people might be pissed off by a game set in an unhappy moment of recent history. Imagine if they did that in 2007 and released a game set in New York when the twin towers fell down, now immagine that in the game you are a fireman trying to rescue people, you withness the fall of the towers, everyone's dead, and moments after you are prompted to rescue people in order to win, imagine if there where achievements for like "save 10 people in a row!!" or "jump the burning corpse!", it would be disrespectfull beyond limits to "have fun" while playing a game like that, but that's the purpose of videogames and you can't change that.
@ilantis Your looking at this like thats all video games are. While most are, some of them rise above that. This is an art and denying its artistic possibilities is something appalling. While I don't think that a game about firemen rescuing people would be a good game, I still think that something along similar lines could work.
@vault-boy I'm concerned of the fact that a game like that could turn out like the "no russian" mission in CodMW2 (I assume you know) that was supposed to be a touching moment, but eventually most players didn't give a damn about shooting civilians an everyone just ruthlessly killed them all because "who cares ? it's a game!". The mission had been banned in many countries and it wasn't even based on actual facts. It's very hard that a whole game like that makes it into the market, and even if it doesn't it couldn't be taken seriously by all the people being a videogame, hence the controversial side of having people joking over the actual relatively recent deaths of people.
@ilantis Theres a difference between what 6 Days did (and is still doing, but they still need a publisher) and what Modern Warfare 2 did. MW2's airport scene was nothing short of free publicity. This controversy is rooted at its core at a misunderstanding of its artistic merit stemming from pure ignorance.
This game is a great example of how videogames can be works of art. It aimed to evoke emotion and present a real-life event in a certain light to address a particular issue. Thank you for the article. I was beginning to think gamers had forgotten about this artwork-that-never-was.
I'm not sure about your comparison to film being unfair, as a movie is a 2-hour experience and a game is, in many ways, immersive, so there is a slight safety issue there if the realism becomes too real. I think your ideas are solid, and it would be nice if games matured to depict war as it is, but I wonder if this is fair ground to begin with. Good food for thought for this topic.
I agree with you, wholeheartedly. This game should have been made. It could have been a great turning point for the medium. It's a shame we might never see it published. At this point I would buy it out of principle. A game that's essentially a survival/horror beats out the glorified jingoism and chest-thumping of braindead games like Call of Duty, Medal of Honor and the rest of the copycats. We needed something different, and this could have been the game to do it. Such a shame things turned out the way they did.
@NeonNinja Remember, its not dead yet. The studio is still up and you never know when a publisher is growing to grow some testicles and decide that want to be a part of it.
It's gonna be a long while before we see more games like Six Days in Fallujah, if they ever come about at all. Not only are a good chunk of people more likely to watch a 2 hour movie than play a 6-10 hour campaign, but games are still a young medium. I think people are still hung up on how they are "games" and are mostly played for amusement and fun, so I can see how a game like this would rub some people the wrong way. I still think Konami should have published it though.
Its a shame this title didn't released. I hope some publisher will have the balls to pick it up or that they get backing through kickstarter or something.
The game did look interesting and probably would have been a fresh breath of air in the survival horror market, but people are stupid lol. Konami would have been ok. Capcom did fine with Resident Evil 5 despite the racial controversy.
It wasn't going to be a survival horror game; it was supposed to be an FPS. I think you;re commenting on the wrong blog.
@spoonybard-hahs it is written in the blog that the developers described the game as a "survival horror but not in the traditional sense".
But it is still a shooter about a real conflict, maybe less boring than another WWII FPS game but still that doesn't seems to reinvent anything. Unless I didn't get what is new about that game that never saw the light of the day.
I'm also starting to have a problem with all the games portraying USA as a savior... it is sometimes hard to say which one is the good and which one is the evil in a conflict like that ...
@Coco_pierrot I have a problem with people talking about things they don't understand. Anyways, look at the video spoonybard posted, its quite informative for people who still haven't heard about it.
@Coco_pierrot It would have been a modern war shooter that actually dealt with modern war and its effects on those who serve. Call of Duty and its ilk have no real comment on war or its after math, let alone have anything meaningful to say about members of the military.