Full disclosure, I am not a gamer, I have not seen any previews of "Six Days in Fallujah" and I do not plan on seeing it if it is released. It isn't necessary. As the controversy over this video game continues, it is clear to me that Atomic Games doesn't want to understand the concerns of Gold Star families, those who lost a loved one in this Iraq war.
Several members of the military approached Atomic Games with the proposal to re-enact a horrific battle that they participated in and I'm pretty sure that they have the best interest of anyone who was in Fallujah during those awful days in November 2004 including their brothers who gave the ultimate sacrifice, but I still think this game is wrong. I wonder if they thought about the families who have been left behind, we Gold Star families who are still learning to live without our loved ones, who were killed in this war that continues to kill and maim to this day. We, whose hearts break a little more with the news of every new death in Iraq or Afghanistan; American or Iraqi, British, Dutch, Canadian or Afghani.
The gamer's message boards are wild discussing the negative reaction to this game and their preferred form of entertainment. I'm not sure how people can compare a book or a movie about war to a video game about war, especially to a specific battle, as "Six Days in Fallujah" might be. Films and books are entertaining in a different way, and have a fixed story. There are no "do overs" in a book or a film. When someone dies in a film or book, they are dead for the remainder, you don't start over and get another ending.
I also don't buy the argument that realistic war games have been made by the Army for recruiting and training purposes, so what's wrong with this one?
Less than 1% of the population of this country is affected by the war in any way and it is that disconnect that is bothersome. Those 1% are the members of the military and their families, the people who love them. I wish people could walk in my Gold Star Mom shoes for a minute. They might understand for that moment my experience of what it feels like to have lived in fear for 384 days while my son was deployed to Iraq or the agony of the last 5 years since he was killed in a deadly battle in Najaf. But really, it is not a minute or a life I would wish on anyone, ever.
Atomic Games President, Peter Tamte said "Ultimately, all of us are curious about what it would really be like to be in a war" But Mr Tamte found his reality in the safety of gaming and speaking to Marines who were involved in this battle that they seek to recreate. Hardly a realistic comparison to the real thing. Mr Tamte continues, "For us, the challenge was how to present the horrors of war in a game that is entertaining, but also gives people insight into a historical situation in a way that only a video game can provide". His comments provide no assurance to me and lead me to a nightmare image of people playing this game and laughing when they die, or laughing when they kill someone else, accidentally or intentionally. I imagine these gamers will laugh and exchange high fives at their success in this so-called game. When they are tired or bored, they go get a beer or a soda from the fridge, maybe go out and shoot some hoops, and then go back to the game to see how it ends this time. But for those who fight these battles in real life will live with the smell of the smoke and the blood, the sounds of war, the images of dead and wounded friends forever, and forever is a long time.
Tamte also said "Our goal is to give people that insight, of what it's like to be a Marine during that event, what it's like to be a civilian in the city and what it's like to be an insurgent." Regardless of realistic graphics and story lines, how can a game provide insight into being a Marine? A Marine's experience in battle is made up of his basic fiber from time in basic training, and every moment since they stepped onto the sands of Kuwait as they prepared to head into Iraq. For someone to expect insight by cranking on the Xbox and playing a war game for an hour is disrespectful to any member of the military and their training.
Konami and Atomic Games minimize the reality of an ongoing war and at the same time will profit off the deaths of our loved ones by making it 'entertaining' is despicable. Until Mr Tamte and others associated with Atomic Games and Konami have lost their only child in war, their opinion about the value of this game doesn't count. When they have walked in my shoes, then, and only then might I be willing to listen to them extoll the values of this kind of reality game.
Part of me believes that Atomic Games released details of the game to provoke. Any news is good news in business, eh? At least you get the public talking about your product and you'll sell more. That's how it works. I get that. But I also get that if I don't speak up about this game, then they will think it's okay with me and it's not.
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