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Location is Everything...

Some of you may be familiar with the story about a game called "Six Days in Fallujah" - developed by Atomic Games.



Six Days in Fallujah is a third-person shooter video game described by the developer, Atomic Games, as a survival horror game. It is the first game to focus directly on Operation Iraqi Freedom, mainly the Second Battle of Fallujah or Operation Phantom Fury. The game follows a squad of U.S. Marines from 3rd Battalion 1st Marines over the span of six days. The premise of the game has been the subject of controversy; with questions have been raised as to its appropriateness, especially given the fact that the true event the game is based upon was so recent. It was originally to be published by Konami. On April 28, 2009, a spokesman confirmed to the Associated Press that Konami was no longer publishing the game.



 

Supposedly Atomic Games is finished with the game and it is just waiting for a publisher to pick it up...but apparently no one wants to because of the sensitive subject matter and content.


It's an interesting topic...one that I can respect and appreciate, even though I might not fully understand it.

While we have games from nearly every historic period in time...I'm going to comment on just a few.

World War II - we've seen plenty of games from this period. I'm not going to play History Teacher and go into all the nuts and bolts of the Axis and Allies, but suffice it to say, in most of the video games you're fighting against Germany and Japan, 2 countries that are now our allies.


I know there are German and Japanese gamers...do they play these games? And does it bother them? I don't know. I really don't.

Vietnam - while not as popular as the WWII setting, there are certainly a few games loosely based in Vietnam and the Vietnam conflict. Obviously, the primary aggressor in the Vietnam conflict was the Vietnamese...specifically the North Vietnamese. The Vietnam conflict is often perceived as a black eye for the United States, largely due to the way many of the veterans were received as they returned back to the United States. I'm not going to debate the politics or anti-war movement surrounding this conflict, but suffice it to say there is still to this day a lot of grief and anguish felt by the veterans and families affected by it.


While it's impossible to say if there are gamers (and how many there are) who fought (or had support roles) in Vietnam, I don't think it would be many. I know my dad, uncle and father in law went...none of them are gamers. But there are probably a few out there...at least a couple...

I don't know of, or have never heard of, anybody objecting to Vietnam as a setting for a video game location. It doesn't really bother me, but does it bother others? I don't know. I really don't.

It seems like a fair number of game developers shun away from using real world locations, governments or organizations as a component of their video game for fear it will be received much like Six Days in Fallujah.

Instead, developers create countries like ARMA II's "Takistan" - a fictional country located in Central Asia. Or worse, they create fictitious (and often totally unrealistic) scenarios where ultranationalists have overthrown the current government or terrorists have temporarily seized power. This provides the developers with the background needed to explain the plot without offending or upsetting any particular group, organization, country or nationality. This approach allows us to "attack" countries that we don't want to advertise as our enemy or target, even though we all know they are.



Okay. I understand the why...but is it really needed?

In Crysis, we fought the North Koreans (as well as some wikid cool and very power alien forces). I know Korea (or at least South Korea) has a ton of gamers and while they may be more enchanted with StarCraft, I wonder if they enjoy beating up on the North Koreans in Crysis....or does it bother them? I don't know. I really don't.



 

Then there is Blackhawk Down.



Delta Force: Black Hawk Down is a first-person shooter video-game set during the United Nations intervention in the Somali Civil War , with missions taking place primarily in the Jubba Valley and the Somali Capital, Mogadishu.

The player begins the game as a soldier attached to the 10th Mountain Division, taking part in Operation Restore Hope; part of the United Nations-backed humanitarian effort to end the famine in Somalia which had killed 300,000 civilians. Following the third mission, the player assumes the role of a soldier assigned to Task Force Ranger, taking part in Operation Gothic Serpent, a military operation conducted during the Battle of Mogadishu on October 3, 1993.

Black Hawk Down (the game and movie) are loosely based on real world events that occurred during the Battle of Mogadishu.

On the afternoon of October 3, 1993, the military was informed that two leaders of Aidid's clan were at a residence in central Mogadishu, the task force sent 19 aircraft, 12 vehicles, and 160 men to arrest them. During the mission, Private Todd Blackburn (who, contrary to the film, arrived in Somalia at the same time as the rest of the 75th) missed the rope while fast-roping from an MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, due to a mistake made by the Pilot. He then fell 70 feet to the street below, badly injuring himself.

The two Somali militia leaders were quickly arrested. The prisoners and the injured Ranger were loaded on a convoy of ground vehicles. However, armed Somali militia and civilians, some of them women and children, converged on the target area from all over the city. Sergeant Dominick Pilla and a Somali fighter spotted each other and fired at the same time. Pilla and the Somali fighter were both killed. The commanders of the operation were stunned to hear that a soldier had been killed, as they expected no casualties during the operation. During the first hours of the battle, the MH-60 Black Hawk, Super Six One, was shot down by a Somali militiaman using a Rocket Propelled Grenade. Both of the pilots were killed, but the crew survived the crash landing.

Later another Black Hawk, Super Six Four, was shot down by RPG fired from the ground. This time no rescue team was immediately available, and the small surviving crew, including one of the pilots, sat tight. Two Delta snipers provided sniper cover from a helicopter, and volunteered repeatedly to try to secure the crash site. They were finally given permission, knowing full well it would probably cost them their lives.

The battle turned out to be the most intensive close combat that US troops had engaged in since the Vietnam War. In the end, two MH-60 Black Hawks were shot down (as well as one more seriously damaged) and 18 US soldiers were killed along with a Malaysian soldier on the rescue convoy. Estimates of Somali dead are around 1,000 Somali Militiamen killed during the battle. The Delta Force Snipers SFC Randall Shughart and MSG Gary Gordon were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for their efforts.

In the video game translation, the player battles enemy forces in Somalia. In the expansion pack, the player faces opponents from Colombia and Iran. Well, that seems believable I suppose. The game received mixed reviews - although it wasn't necessarily because of the content. More an issue of game and the bells and whistles (or lack of).

Of course there are games like Counter-Strike where you are either the counter-terrorists or terrorists. I always preferred playing the counter-terrorists, but truthfully, it had nothing to do with the similarity between the in game terrorists and real life terrorists. Just because I play a terrorist in a video game doesn't mean I somehow support or condone the actions of real world terrorists. I'm smart enough to recognize the differences, as I'm sure most of you are too.



 

I guess my question is (or at least what I'm wondering) do gamers care if the plot relies on realism or if purely fictional settings (or components of the game) are perfectly acceptable? Does playing a terrorist bother you (like Counter-Strike or Modern Warfare 2's airport scene)?  Would a game like Six Days in Fallujah bother you? Did Black Hawk Down bother you? I guess I'm undecided as most of the time it doesn't bother me, but I can definitely understand how it might.

I am a submariner and I've never been offended or upset with games like 688(I) or Silent Hunter.

As I mentioned in my opening statement, I understand and respect the decision not to release the Fallujah game...but honestly...if it's done right...I think it can be a valuable experience for those of us who will likely never witness war or combat first hand (and that's coming from someone who has been to Iraq). While nothing...NOTHING...can compare to what our military forces have had to witness and endure...suffer and sacrifice...it is quite possible to show us just a small shred of what they have to go through each and every day they are in harm's way.



 

I'd rather face North Koreans than residents of Never Never Land any day...but that's me.

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