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Konami Cuts and Runs From Iraq War Game 321

Posted by Soulskill
from the surge-of-protest-is-working dept.
Less than a month after the announcement of Six Days in Fallujah , a video game based upon a real-life battle between US Marines and Iraqi insurgents in 2004, Konami has decided that it is too controversial, and abandoned plans to publish the game. The developer, Atomic Games, has not commented on Konami's decision other than to say an announcement will be made soon. Konami told a Japanese newspaper, "After seeing the reaction to the video game in the United States and hearing opinions sent through phone calls and e-mail, we decided several days ago not to sell it." While the game did receive a great deal of criticism, others were optimistic, including several outspoken veterans of the Iraq war. One of the major complaints was that in researching the battle, Atomic Games reportedly interviewed several insurgents. This prompted speculation that the insurgents were compensated for their help, though Atomic later denied that was the case. Konami's decision also may have been influenced by the fact that they seemed to represent it as entertainment, whereas Atomic's president, Peter Tamte, was more hesitant to describe it as "fun." He said, "The words I would use to describe the game — first of all, it's compelling. And another word I use — insight."
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Konami Cuts and Runs From Iraq War Game

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  • Release it anyway (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Entropy98 (1340659) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:48PM (#27741185) Homepage

    Why not just change the name and the story and release it?

    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @12:08AM (#27741289) Journal

      Why not just change the name and the story and release it?

      Maybe because they were counting on the realism? And, dare I say it, the controversial attention was its biggest guarantee to sell?

      I haven't read any of the articles linked above but I submitted it this morning [slashdot.org] and found a quote from a developer making it sound like information had been gathered for the game from all parties [gamepolitics.com] involved in the conflict.

      Also, Dan Rosenthal, a blogger and veteran of the Iraq War, gave this insightful analysis of Konami's situation:

      In order to make the game fun... it simply has to sacrifice some amount of realism for fun factor. When you do that with a war game based on a real war, with real people, you run the risk of dishonoring their memories and sacrifices, and I think that this game has a dangerous potential to do that.

      • by KDR_11k (778916) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @02:27AM (#27742099)

        In order to make the game fun... it simply has to sacrifice some amount of realism for fun factor.

        I'm not sure wargamers would agree.

        When you do that with a war game based on a real war, with real people, you run the risk of dishonoring their memories and sacrifices, and I think that this game has a dangerous potential to do that.

        As opposed to imaginary wars like World War 2 and Vietnam?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by meyekul (1204876)

          As opposed to imaginary wars like World War 2 and Vietnam?

          WW2 wasn't all that controversial at the time, and especially not now. Everyone is pretty clear that we did (mostly) the right things and the good guys won. Vietnam is another story completely, but look how long it took to make video game about it, and even then I'm not sure they were based so closely on real, historical battles. Maybe 50 years from now we'll have games with Saddam running around in a mechanical battle suit [wikipedia.org], but not today.

      • by rolfwind (528248)

        Also, Dan Rosenthal, a blogger and veteran of the Iraq War, gave this insightful analysis of Konami's situation:

        In order to make the game fun... it simply has to sacrifice some amount of realism for fun factor. When you do that with a war game based on a real war, with real people, you run the risk of dishonoring their memories and sacrifices, and I think that this game has a dangerous potential to do that.

        That analysis makes no sense because a bunch of war games were already made with a fun factor and thus

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by Dunbal (464142)

      Yeah, I'd certainly play "A Week in Hajullaf"!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dasmoo (1052358)
      Why not just change the characters to Nazi's and Americans, call it Afrika Korps, and people won't be offended.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Why not just change the name and the story and release it?

      Or release it for free? I doubt there would have been much, if any controversy in that case. "Six Days in Fallujah" is not the first OIF based game.

      http://www.insurgencymod.net/
      "Insurgency will take you across the modern battlefield, engaging in intense firefights and battles as a member of either a highly organized and equipped conventional force (US Marines), or as an unconventional fighter that uses a combination of firepower and bravery to take on their sometimes overwhelming opponent (Insurgents).

      Pla

  • by 4D6963 (933028) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:50PM (#27741195)
    We got *this* close to at last having a war game that was even vaguely anything like war. A chance we've avoided that, the crude reality of war should only be depicted in movies, TV shows and documentary, as God intended!
    • by Sylos (1073710) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:53PM (#27741207)
      It was too close to real life. How can the Army recruit kids if the kids realize they don't respawn at the end of the round?[SEE:America's Army]
      • by doug141 (863552) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @12:20AM (#27741369)

        The army didn't pull it. Konami did.

      • by GrpA (691294) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @12:24AM (#27741393)

        By telling them they will respawn in the next life... Or respawn in heaven or some variation of that.

        At least, that's the reasoning and rationale behind a lot of people who fight on both sides.

        GrpA

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Draek (916851)

        Gee, and we should probably ban Grand Theft Auto as well, that thing is nothing more than a murder simulator!

        Or perhaps, 99.99% of the world's population is perfectly able to distinguish between videogames and reality, and you're just doing a Jack Thompson strawman only to satisfy your petty war against the US army. Fuck you.

        • He was saying that games too much like real life are decried while fantasies like America's Army are encouraged to increase recruitment. He's saying the "banning" is wrong. Who modded insightful?..
        • by pizzach (1011925)

          Or perhaps, 99.99% of the world's population is perfectly able to distinguish between videogames and reality, and you're just doing a Jack Thompson strawman only to satisfy your petty war against the US army. Fuck you.

          This is not the way to get people outside of your circle to try and understand your point of view. And seriously, I doubt you have tried looking from their point of view to try to explain things better.

          The key word is desensitized. Younger people and gamers tend to be more desensitized to violence through media than older people. You have to step outside of your circle to realize why "shooting a person in the head and seeing all the blood spurt out" is a general basis for discomfort for some people. Gam

      • by c6gunner (950153)

        John Kerry? Is that you?

    • by caitsith01 (606117) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @12:25AM (#27741399) Journal

      So it was going to be a game in which the player spent years growing and being nourished by self, family, friends, community and the state until the late teens before being shipped to another country and then unexpectedly killed without warning, after which the game becomes locked and unplayable?

      I understand your point - but it is extremely hard to see how this game could have been a serious depiction of war. Would it include horrible brutality by some of the soliders on your own side? Would it throw up the extreme moral quandraries surrounding civilian casualties and the invasion of Iraq itself? Would it even include civilians? Animals? Disease?

    • Truth is, any on-going war is controversial. When is the last time you've seen a major Hollywood film based on it? Yes, there are a small selection of flicks documented here [wikipedia.org]. But don't hold your breath on any block buster movies about it to be released anytime soon.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      ...the crude reality of war should only be depicted in movies, TV shows and documentary...

      As it should be, IMO. The only TV show you see the current war in is appropriately somber and analytical (at least as somber and analytical as most of our journalists can get). If you want realism, watch al-jazeera. If you want to inform the general populace about a war, I don't care how realistic a game is, it'll still be a pale comparison against the real thing.

      And despite the seriousness some /.ers equate with gaming, 99% of the population still thinks of gaming as a fancy toy. It's a pretty tough

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DrBuzzo (913503)

      We got *this* close to at last having a war game that was even vaguely anything like war.

      Uh... games are supposed to be fun. Pretend wars where you tend to kill lots of bad guys without being killed are fun. Shooting zombies and aliens is fun.

      I'm not sure I'd really have any interest in getting home from work and sitting down to relive the most horrifying nightmares of human history.

      • by 4D6963 (933028) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @02:32AM (#27742121)

        We got *this* close to at last having a war game that was even vaguely anything like war.

        Uh... games are supposed to be fun. Pretend wars where you tend to kill lots of bad guys without being killed are fun. Shooting zombies and aliens is fun. I'm not sure I'd really have any interest in getting home from work and sitting down to relive the most horrifying nightmares of human history.

        Who cares, not every one agrees, and want something different. What matters is this, and the fact that people like you want to prevent anyone from doing something that doesn't fit to what they want.

  • Cowards. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kid Zero (4866) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:52PM (#27741203) Homepage Journal

    They'll make any number of "Demonic hordes of Hell storm earth bloodly" games but won't publish something that really happened?

    Strange.

    • by 4D6963 (933028)
      Off topic : that's what I hate about "rebel" rockers who make a big deal out of talking about Satan, when the stuff that really disturbs is in what's real but that we don't want to hear about.
      • More off-topic: The most disturbing songs I've heard, IMHO, are all a capella.

        But I haven't seen Barbados, so I must get out of this.

    • Who would be their target audience...the anti-war crowd would be out because they would claim it was glorifying the role of a soldier, the pro-war crowd is out because its too soon and the war is still going on. That leaves the indifferent who couldnt even be counted on to buy "Blood In The Sand" despite good reviews. The chances of recouping development costs were slim to none while the chances of creating enough ill will to damage Konami's reputation long after the game was relased were high. Canceling

      • by dangitman (862676)

        the pro-war crowd is out because its too soon and the war is still going on

        I don't get it. Why would the pro-war crowd be bothered by depictions of the war while it is ongoing? They think the war is a good thing, so what's their problem with it being depicted?

        • by Kamineko (851857)

          They're probably anticipating the point when you've reached the final boss and the game suddenly cut off with 'To Be Continued...'.

          Remember Halo 2 + 3?

      • If its done well it could easily not glorify the war at all. A cold harsh look at the realities of what happened, would defiantly get me to buy a copy and i think both wars were entirely retarded. I also think a lot of gamers are fairly could put their political opinions aside and just enjoy the game.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Polumna (1141165)
        Intending no offense, that strikes me as a sadly superficial analysis. I have been a member of the anti-war crowd since there was an anti-war crowd, and I would amazon preorder this... [do we really have to call it a] game. There are lots of reasons to. They range from taking part in what could well be the creation of a legitimate medium to simply learning about, for better or worse, a defining moment in our national history. Just because I am, and have been, staunchly opposed to this military action does n
  • by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:59PM (#27741253) Homepage Journal
    I think it's certainly an event worth trying to convey. Whether they'd have pulled it off with appropriate levels of gravitas is unknown at this stage and ultimately open to interpretation in any case but it's a shame if people who choose to be offended by the idea alone have caused it to be shut down.
    • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @08:42AM (#27744213) Homepage Journal

      They could have made the Iraq War game really realistic. You play a member of the Missouri National Guard who has to give up his job and not see his wife or two young children for five tours, so you can go to a country where the people who live there don't want you, and you get to drive around, waiting for an IED to kill or cripple you.

      Oh, and when you are done playing the game, you are forced to sit down and play again, and again, and again, and again, while your kids grow up without you and you've lost your job and you lose your house, which you bought with a adjustable rate mortgage and the payments have tripled and now you don't have a job and when you go home the economy will suck.

      Gamespot gives it an 8.9

  • by jfruhlinger (470035) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @12:09AM (#27741301) Homepage

    I'm not any kind of gamer, but if you accept that video games are a legitmate form of artistic expression enjoyed by a growing number of people (and you're an idiot if you don't), the idea that interviewing insurgents is somehow sinister is ludicrous. Would it be evil for a filmmaker making a movie about Fallujah to interview people on both sides of the fight?

    Plus, I hate to break it to people, but a lot of the guys the Americans were fighting in 2004 and 2005 in the Sunni Triangle were later recruited into the Awakening Movement, which then turned against foreign fighters and our now allies (albeit uneasy ones) with the US military. Enemy of my enemy, shifting alliances, etc.

    • by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @12:40AM (#27741515) Homepage

      when i was in ramadi (05-06), AQI shot themselves in the foot by trying to muscle out the local boys. started a war-within-a-war between themselves and groups like 1920 Revolution Brigades and MML...at times there was more "red on red" violence than anything else. we (people above my pay grade...WAY above) saw the opportunity to play nice (read: pay nice)...and it worked out pretty well... probably not forever, but those suni's can be a pragmatic bunch. sons of anbar, awakening counsils, desert patrol...all started thanks to AQI being voilent and stupid.

      case in point: at one point, while we were recruiting locals for the Iraqi police and army...all the local insurgents declared no attacks on the recruitment: they wanted to get people in...to influence, grab power, spy, whatever. well AQI said fuck that...and sent a suicide-vest-wearing dude who proceeded to kill several iraqis and a guy in my battalion [stripes.com]. AQI never learned that there was no I in retard...

      little story behind that story for ya.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Well, this idiot strongly disagrees with the notion that war simulation games represent any form of art more significant than a Dwayne Johnson Film. Make a game that rivals this [abc.net.au], then get back to me.
      • by Draek (916851)

        Define "significant". Define "rivals". Heck, define "art". Then we can begin to talk about how to make that game.

  • The medium (Score:2, Insightful)

    The question has to be asked: does medium matter? ie, why can the History channel portray these things but not game developers.

    In most cases, the answer is no. Books vs. TV is really not that huge of a difference if you've got an author good at descriptive writing. However, in a video game, you are an active participant. You are doing things. And worse, when you finish doing that stuff, you just get up and go eat dinner/go to school/whatever.

    I am of the opinion that games like this actually funct
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bVork (772426)
      I disagree strongly with this. Try playing Rendition [tads.org]. You'll probably find it difficult to not feel disgust at your own actions in the game.

      The problem isn't the medium of videogames, it is the presentation of the subject matter within the game. But how are we to know whether the presentation in Six Days In Fallujah approached the subject matter effectively (or not), when outcry from people like you prevent such works from being created?
    • by pizzach (1011925)
      I think that is only half of it. The other half is that games are made to be above all fun and some may fear this will trivialize the ongoing war. I don't think war games fit cleanly into the edutainment mold either.
    • by westlake (615356)
      why can the History channel portray these things but not game developers.

      History implies distance - perspective.

      The action game is mostly about the dynamics of small unit combat - which never really change all that much.

      The technical problem is similar to that of the stealth shooter - the genre which begins with games like S.W.A.T and Rogue Spear. There your decisions are shaped by formal Rules of Engagement. The need to minimize civilian casualties and other unintended consequences. You can achieve you

  • or they publish it themselves. Seems like they already put a lot of work into it.

  • In other news.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bronney (638318) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @12:20AM (#27741367) Homepage

    An executive from Atomic Games, the maker of the unreleased game Six Days in Fallujah was seen handing over the complete source code on a 1.44MB floppy disk to an executive from 3D Realms. Gamers around the world rejoice that this controversial title might yet see the day of light in the latest release from 3D Realms.

    Exactly what title that be, we're not authorize to report here.

  • Some of the comments so far have been total dissapointment that they are not going live. Being a Veteran and understanding how the culture is I could understanding that if they were to set aside a certain amount of the profit to help the families then maybe. There is a big difference in Warcraft, WOW, DOOM III and any of the other gore and blood offerings than using the unfortunate and sad situation these young kids had to endure and the families have to live with this the rest of their lives. This is one t
    • by dangitman (862676)

      than using the unfortunate and sad situation these young kids had to endure and the families have to live with this the rest of their lives. This is one that should never have been thought of.

      Why? Should this event be erased from our memories, erased from public consciousness, just because some people got killed?

      You know, there is a small chance that this could be a portrayal that is shocking and illustrates the futility of war. In that case, wouldn't it be in the best interests of the families of the fallen that it be seen, as a warning to society not to continue down that path? Whitewashing over these incidents only increases the chance that they will happen again and again. Because when the p

  • Replacement (Score:5, Funny)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @12:24AM (#27741397)

    In a follow-up press release, Konami states they plan instead to produce a game where you pilot Air Force One in the skies above NYC, performing daring acrobatic feats like "buzz the highly populated pier" and "read all the hats of the tourists at the top of the Chrysler building".

  • by MrMista_B (891430) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @12:29AM (#27741431)

    If Iraq bombed and invaded America, then Americans who fought back would be terrorists and insurgents.

    • by 4D6963 (933028) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @12:35AM (#27741477)
      Only if the government/armed forces surrendered. Because then that's no army, that's... an insurgence!
      • Something many people miss about this, and other, conflicts is that there are actually ARE rules for war, terms spelled out and so on. The Geneva Conventions are the big ones. One of the big things is definitions of fighters and such. One of the basic ideas is that war is supposed to be between armies. So there's rules like no attacking hospitals and so on. However, for this to apply, one of the requirements is that the armies are identified as such. Soldiers are in uniform, vehicles are marked, etc. Basica

        • [Not] Correct (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Uberbah (647458) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @08:13AM (#27743999)

          Invading armies waging illegal wars of choice don't get to then complain about "rules of war" when the civilian populace starts using guerrilla warfare to resist occupation.

          Soldiers are in uniform, vehicles are marked, etc. Basically the soldiers aren't pretending to be part of the populace and launching attacks.

          You mean like Minutemen during the Revolutionary War? Those damn terrorists, I mean patriots, I mean...

          And then there's the fact that the U.S. has supported un-uniformed "illegal combatants" for decades, some of them quite nasty, as long as they were fighting socialists.

    • by c6gunner (950153)

      and .... ?

      If Martians invaded Earth, they'd have big three-legged walking machines with death beams!

    • For homework, describe the difference between a uniformed military that follows the rules of war, and a rabble of men with guns who are loyal to no government.
  • As a game that we can unlock with the Konami code inside Contra 6?
  • by CreamyG31337 (1084693) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @12:40AM (#27741517)
    Because it's set in Africa, and there's black zombies! I saw one attack a white woman, so clearly the zombie was a racist! Honestly, I played through the whole game, and I didn't see anything that seemed racist to me. But I thought it's worth mentioning because it's another recent case of video games that bother some tiny minority of overly sensitive people. They make a big fuss and somehow it gets picked up by the press, which apparently scares away retailers, publishers, parents, and whatever else. I guess my point is that I don't really believe this game could be that bad or offensive. Maybe not quite what Konami is comfortable publishing, but I'll still check it out when it gets published. Or at least wait for a review of the actual game, not just listen to statements from people that are offended by war or that battle or whatever.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I just wanted to say, excellent job on the title of the post. I chuckled.
  • It's not just only that - as other slashdotters pointed out - many games do monetize war and games are an artistic form of expression and it only speaks for them to have researched both sides of the war. It's also a statement surprising to come from a game company. I'll guess we'll never see any wargame again from Konami, unless Konami is naive about wars (and games) in general.
  • Ridiculous (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dvs01 (1192659) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @01:03AM (#27741669)

    Yes, I think that this game would be VERY fun. Why hide the damn fact? Yes, I think it would be VERY fun to act as a terrorist and kill U.S. forces, while afterward, it would be VERY fun to play on the U.S. side and kill the terrorists. Why fun? Why should I say its fun to play a video game character that kills Americans? Why the hell not? The strategy and tactics involved in both sides would be interesting, no matter what it's actually meant to depict. In fact, simulating a defeat of the Marines would be quite fun to do, since they obviously won and outgunned their enemies.

    Aside from that, killing anything and everything is fun in video games, and that's just how it is. I'll shoot a baby with a rocket launcher, and then get off the PC and go about my peaceful day in real life. It's a fucking game. Hence the name.

    Anyone heard of Counterstrike? That game is notorious for being VERY fun, despite the fact that one of the teams has to play the terrorists. Whoever is sensitive to this needs to not play, and stop trying to ruin the time of those who want to play.

    This is more ridiculous than the people who protested against Resident Evil 5, a game set in Africa, where (surprise!) a majority of the zombies are black.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @01:44AM (#27741881)

    They gave in to the opinions of people who would have never bought the game anyway and killed it off. Why would they not let the opinions of the fans of the game dictate their next move instead of those of people who will never buy it, no matter what?

  • What's the stuff that makes the most money? Ask a TV producer. Or a rapper. ^^
    It's the stuff that's most controversial. It stirs up the most dust.

    Of course, you have to be sure of your own values, to produce something like that. Know yourself, what's right and wrong. And stand by that.
    But then, the controversial stuff, when well executed (very important), makes the best stuff.

    Books, movies, music, games... does not matter.
    The following spectacle would be enough to sell 10 games on it's tide wave.

    Well, it's

  • by MistaE (776169) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @08:30AM (#27744113) Homepage
    . . . for actually having an exit strategy!
  • by Satanboy (253169) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @02:37PM (#27748803)

    I have conflicting feelings about this.
    I am all for free speech and I love games that try and tell a story. I get honoring our sons who fight in war with a medium that they enjoy.

    In this case, however, I'm wondering if it's the proper time for something like this.
    It almost seems tacky to create a game based on the battles of soldiers who are still around and still fighting.

    I know that we have world war 2 games and vietnam games, but those conflicts are over with and done with. There are soldiers still over there fighting these battles and maybe that's why i feel this decision by Konami might be on okay thing.

    I don't agree with making movies about a war during the time of war, either. I feel there is a time and place, and normally these things should be at least a decade after the conflict has ended.

    I know we didn't have that long after vietnam ended, and it seems more and more studios try and push out content based on our wars faster and faster.

    I know I don't feel right about this, I think people should be able to come back and have time to heal before being bombarded with war movies and war games based on what they did.

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