The Problem with Six Days in Fallujah
There is an old saying which has it that the victors write the history books. Now it seems, the victors also make the video games. Konami today announced that it plans to publish a third-person action game based on the (still ongoing) war in Iraq called “Six Days in Fallujah”. According to the publisher, the hyper-realistic game will allow players to take the role of a US Marine, “kicking in doors, blowing up walls, eliminating enemy cover and destroying the environment around them.”
Konami should be ashamed for promoting this game, which at worst appears to be a new form of war profiteering and at best comes off as triumphalist American propaganda.
The 2004 battle in Fallujah was one of the bloodiest confrontations in recent history. It marked a low point in the disastrous invasion of Iraq, a war which failed to locate any weapons of mass destruction, and which most Americans now believe was a major mistake from its very conception.
The battle of Fallujah was sparked off when a group of Blackwater military contractors were killed by a mob of angry Iraqis and their bodies displayed on camera. Eager to avenge the deaths of these American citizens and hoping to strike a blow against the Iraqi resistance, the US military laid siege to the city. Civilian women and children were told to leave the city, while fighting-aged men were forced to stay behind. Many civilians left, but many remained trapped, unwilling or unable to be separated from their families and homes.
On the evening of November 7, 2004, the American forces struck the city in a massive land and air based assault. US marines went house to house, searching over 30,000 individual residences. When the dust settled, the city had been all but destroyed. Casualty numbers are difficult to substantiate, but the lowest ones put Iraqi civilian deaths at around 6,000. It was officially reported that 71 US Marines also lost their lives in the fighting.
Such is the nature of our globally interconnected world, where a Japanese entertainment company could sell a game to American consumers in which the player take the role of a marine who fights and dies in a misconceived war that the United States is still reeling from. What reaction is this game supposed to elicit? Now families of deceased American soldiers can replay that infamous battle to see if they could have done things differently? Iraqi survivors with an internet connection can play to find out how their loved ones might have been killed in the besieged city?
Konami has all of those bases covered; in fact this seems to be part of their marketing strategy: “[T]here will be a broad range of reactions and opinions on the experience itself,” said creative director Juan Benito during a recent interview, “And for some, they may have fun. They may enjoy it. We are recreating and presenting these events and people, I think, will have their own individual reactions to it and those will be across the board.” That might just be the understatement of the year, Mr. Benito.
Most Americans, as well as the rest of the world, have strongly repudiated the United States’ 2003 invasion of Iraq. As a result, it is impossible not to be suspicious of Konami’s intentions with this title. Whether or not they profit from this product, it is irresponsible for a publisher to sell a game based on a conflict that has left wounds that have not yet healed.
US Marines kill Iraqi insurgents during a game of Six Days in Fallujah.
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