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Opinion: “Does Six Days In Fallujah” hold potential to expand gaming or doomed before launch (again)?

Gamingtodaynews1e - Opinion: "Does Six Days In Fallujah" hold potential to expand gaming or doomed before launch (again)?

Forgive me, the essay form of this was insanely long and I’m not posting the link to a video essay because, we all know why.

TLDR: I think that Six Days in Fallujah has the POTENTIAL to open a new genre of gaming (Calling it Docu-Gaming, Documentary + Gaming) but the bad press from Mr. Tamte and the tone deafness of the PR has the potential to bury the game before we get an opportunity to see if it works.


Peter Tamte’s mouth and the walk back

  • On 15 Feb 2021 Peter Tamte, lead developer at Highwire Games, insisted that the newly announced and revived game, Six Days in Fallujah, was not making a political statement and would not grapple with the machinations that led to the Iraqi War
  • The studio wanted to focus the game on the smaller, tactical scale conflict between US Service members and Al Qaeda & insurgents and the civilians that were trapped between them.
  • "… we do not want to show how choices that are made by policymakers affect the choices that needs to make on the battlefield. Just as that cannot second-guess the choices by the policymakers, we're not trying to make a political commentary about whether or not the war itself was a good or bad idea."
  • Tamte mentioned (paraphrasing) “I can't sell a game about an Iraqi citizen. No one would buy it.”
  • "I don't think players are going to be confused about the cost ," Tamte said, "I just don't think that they're going to walk away from this experience going, 'We need more war.' I don't think that's something that the Marines and soldiers want as a message. I don't think that's something that the Iraqi civilians want as a message. I think people do need to understand the human cost of war."
  • "… I don't want sensational types of things to distract from the parts of that experience."
  • On 8 March the publisher Victura put out a tweet that started “ We understand the events recreated in Six Days in Fallujah are inseparable from politics.” This is directly contrasted against Tamte meaning that either there is a pure PR spin or they took time to reassess their direction, grow, and make a more mature and meaningful game. We will have to wait and see their decision.

What is Six Days in Fallujah?

  • A First Person shooter and Co-Op multiplayer that pushes players into decision points and tactical decisions while being narrated before, during, and after missions by scores of Marines, soldiers, and coalition members as well as 25 iraqi civilians.
  • Set in the 2004 second battle of Fallujah between US forces and the black flag of insurgents and Al-Qaida of Iraq. There is so much ground setting to the battle that there are dedicated half hour-long videos to it. Ultimately it was the largest urban conflict since 1968 resulting in more than 100 coalition force and 800 civilians killed.
  • Tactical shooter in a military sense, rifles and grenades, fire teams, squads, up to battalions. But the meat of the conflict was conducted in small units and lead by sergeant, corporals, and the next man up.
  • The story of an Iraqi father trying to get his family out of the city while stranded between the two juggernauts

What the game is not, a multiplayer mayhem game like COD.

  • Six Days in Fallujah is not listed as a multiplayer player vs player or team battle game like COD.
  • Not designed to showcase all sides of the conflict, which we think is a bit short sighted. By potentially writing off the insurgents as just a big bad evil that will die in droves the game doesn’t give a reason to their agency and therefore putting a barrier in the game in understanding the entire conflict.
  • Not show casing or listing why the war was started, as I mention elsewhere in the post please go read Kobra II which is an excellent read on the subject.
  • Six Days in Fallujah is not forcing players to commit atrocities like "shake n bake" or shooting civilians.

What potential the game has for the future of gaming.

  • By creating a new genre of games, what we're calling a docu-game, Highwire is broadening the scope of video games and expanding the reach of the genre much the way that Maus did for graphic novels, Ken Burns did for history documentaries, and the printing press did for books that weren't records or the bible.
  • (No, this is PROBABLY NOT going to be Ken Burns level of a documentary, but he wasn’t the first to make a documentary either.)

How Highwire Games and publisher Victura have taken steps in the right direction.

  • Highlighting an Iraqi father and his family tells the horrific story of being a civilian trapped between two warring bodies, completely helpless as they wield increasingly power weapons of destruction. As a parent we have no greater fear than being unable to help and protect our children, and if Six Days in Fallujah gets this right, the message and human cost of war will come across clear and vibrant.
  • Using first hand sources to record and retell the story is an absolute must. As well as using service members and Iraqi citizens and telling the story from their view points to contrast each other. History is normally written solely by the victor, we have a chance to hear and experience the terror of the oppressed.

Where it could still be treading poorly or on thin ice.

  • Building empathy for service members and the split-second life or death decisions they had to make is great in theory. But in practice, it is very hard to recreate the fear, anxiety, sleeplessness, and other factors that put young men (& women) in no win situations.
  • Not describing why people and cultures wanted to fight against the American led forces so badly, to the point that they were willing to disregard innocent human life that stood between them and their enemy. We're not saying build empathy or parrot the fundamentalist way, but little blurbs about what motivated the jihadist in such an overwhelmingly dominated fight would allow future generations to understand that this terror wasn't brought on simply by Americans fighting for imperial expansion or against a giant unknown evil, but rather against real people with real motivations.
  • By not exploring the political reasoning for driving into war, by the way if interested in this topic please go read the book Kobra II, finished it recently on Audible and I highly recommend it; the studio potentially is white washing the entire battle into support the troops but not the war mentality.
  • All in all the anti-Iraq war crowd will be insufferably loud about how this game is just a homage to the “Support the Troops” or it’s not about the conflict, it’s about the people but is really just patriotic ramblings about the conflict to pump up good will (see fanbyte’s Imran Khan editorial, or half of reddit or more). And they can be, that’s their view point and more power to them, but I think they’re missing the bigger picture of people and companies that make anything with history tied to it.
  • Will it be perfect? No, absolutely not. As seen by the walk back mentioned above it appears that the studio and publisher have realized that they’ve made some mistakes and are taking the time to rectify them before sinking their own ship.

Where it can go in the future.

  • We, Ridir Gaming, would like to see what the game is actually about, a demo, a full level play through to give our honest opinion. This is a game that we are honestly curious about, if you know why you understand, if you don't, well, I'm sorry but it's not a club I would suggest joining just to find out if you like it.
  • If it designed well, tells the story anywhere between well and expertly, builds empathy and has emotional weight to it, we would love to see the game continue to receive updates and continue to push the envelop for gaming.
  • This design, and the ability to "re-live" another person's experience is very similar to another book we recently read, "Ready Player 2." In short, with only minor spoilers with a significant advance in technology VR players were suddenly able to feel, hear, touch, taste, and experience other individuals tailored moments from their lives from sky diving, to reef diving, sex (yeah, I know, that industry will always be there) to surgery. While this technology isn't as advanced, it's not even in VR, it is along the same vein and has the potential to provide better context to future generations about the human cost of war.

In summary:

  • Peter Tamte said some idiotic things, no doubt about it. War is an extension of politics and to make a war game and say it isn't political is like saying I'm going to eat 2 pints of ice cream for every meal and not gain any weight.
  • The game has potential to break new ground and tell some very heavy and real stories.
  • We're going to reserve our thoughts on the game until we can play it. We suggest you do the same thing.

Source: Original link

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