Konami may have decided not to publish in-development "docu-game" Six Days in Fallujah, but that doesn't mean the game will never come out. According to the head of the development company making the game, folks are interested in putting it out: In an interview with Newsweek magazine Atomic Games' head, Peter Tamte said, "We have a lot of people who are interested in the project...But I'll feel better when we sign something and the checks start coming."
The article itself is fascinating, and highlights how serious Atomic is taking the project. The company has hired a number of advisors who fought in the titular battle, as well as basing maps, missions and weaponry off the actual-on-the-ground articles. One nod to realism that won't be in the game, though: Out of respect for the feelings of the fallen's families, the actual war dead will not be portrayed in-game.
On the one hand, I totally understand not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings with a game, but on the other hand, what's the sense of making a game that documents a specific event, and then not include some of the most important aspects of that event?
If you were writing a book or making a documentary film about the battle, no one would expect you to leave out people involved for fear of inflicting emotional pain on readers or viewers, but because Six Days is a game, the unspoken cultural assumption is it's not serious or worthwhile enough.
Rather than just saying, "Of course games are just as serious as other art forms," I'll say this: I don't know. Something like a history book or a documentary film is often made for no other reason than to accurately record events, and no one would expect the section of a book about the deaths of American soldiers to be "fun to read." In fact, "true" documentaries and histories often don't worry about entertaining readers or viewers at all, where games are designed for you to enjoy and have fun with... that's why they call them "games" and not simulations.
Plus, is it even possible to call a video game a documentary? Games, by their nature, are interactive, so playing Six Days would not give players a real history of the battle as it actually happened, but rather, it would provide their own version of history. At best a game can provide players with a visceral sense of some aspects of being in a place, but even that wouldn't be accurate because of the necessity to make games "fun." Real war, I imagine, is often very, very boring, plus, there's no pause or save game function in real life.
What do you think? Are games serious enough to respectfully tackle emotionally charged, mature issues? Or should we all stick to Super Mario Galaxy?