Atomic Games, responsible for the Close Combat series, is trying their hand at the current war in Iraq. Their new game, Six Days in Fallujah, will attempt to present a documentary-like account of the war over six full days. It is planned for a 2010 release. The game will be published by Konami.
The developers hope to make a game without an agenda. "We're not trying to make social commentary. We're not pro-war. We're not trying to make people feel uncomfortable. We just want to bring a compelling entertainment experience," says Anthony Crouts, vice-president of marketing for Konami, "At the end of the day, it's just a game."
They are, however, using real veterans to help make the game as realistic as possible. "We replicate a specific and accurate timeline -- we mean six days literally," says Atomic Games president Peter Tamte. "We track several units through the process and you get to know what it was like from day to day."
"For us, games are not just toys. If you look at how music, television and films have made sense of the complex issues of their times, it makes sense to do that with videogames," said Tamte.
This will be the first major game released that takes place during the current conflict. As with anything of this nature, it will be very important for the game to approach the situation with respect. It sounds like Tamte and his team are on the right track. There are sensitive issues that come up with titles like this. For example, will there be multiplayer and if so, will one team control the insurgents focused on killing American soldiers? It would certainly be realistic, but games like America's Army avoid this situation by putting the multiplayer component inside of training exercises. Will the game be too current and too realistic to attempt multiplayer like this?
"It's easy to be an armchair quarterback [about war] when you're at home. There were 19-year-olds in the Marines making life-altering changes," said Eddie Garcia, a Marine veteran consulting on the game. "I think this game will add some humanity to the subject." Do you think a video game can accurately portray war, but still be fun?
The game could also present the player with moral choices. For example, an "enemy" could burst through a door, but have no weapon in hand. The player would then be able to decide how to react to the situation. Is this person hostile or harmless? "There are things you just can't do with passive media," says Mr. Tamte. "The decisions you make in the game -- we can make you someone else."
What do you think? Too soon? Can Atomic Games get this right? Can anyone?