And the crossfire just heats up some more with Atomic Games and Konami's controversial Six Days in Fallujah (PS3, Xbox 360) title. We've heard from the naysayers, now it's time to hear from the defenders. And (un)surprise of all surprises, it's the soldiers defending the game themselves.
G4TV dug into the heart of the matter and went around interviewing members of the armed forces on their thoughts regarding this game based on the First Battle of Fallujah, a real event that occurred in Iraq a mere five years ago. The general response of the soldier-interviewees (who also admitted to being gamers) were that of support.
One of the soldiers, Sgt. Casey J. McGeorge, said, "As a combat veteran and as a gamer, I have no problem whatsoever with the game. As long as it's made as realistically as possible, I believe that this could be a good thing for both combat veterans and for the war in general." Sgt. McGeorge served three tours of duty (equivalent to 36 months) in Iraq.
Other sentiments echo the desire of the soldiers to garner more understanding and empathy from civilians, especially after they have returned home from combat. Former Army Sgt. Kevin Smith explains:
Let it be made, and hopefully it will bolster support for military veterans by giving civilians insight into what this war was actually like for them... A lot of soldiers have had a hard time readjusting when they return from war, and this has caused an extremely high suicide rate. I really hope that this title receives positive press and encourages more empathy towards veterans after gamers have 'experienced' what they have gone through.
Apart from the empathy angle, some are also looking at Six Days of Fallujah as a potential supplement to training. Marine Corps. Gunnery Sergeant John Mundy is one of those who believes in this potential, saying that it could be "another tool to get the Marines thinking about Rules of Engagement and such so that they can play the game together and maybe learn a thing or two."
All that they require of the game, however, is that it be made as realistically as possible, in terms of depicting the combat that happened. Atomic Games, for their part, appears to be treading the same direction.
Said president Peter Tamte:
For us, the challenge was how do you present the horrors of war in a game that is also entertaining, but also gives people insight into a historical situation in a way that only a video game can provide. Our goal is to give people that insight, of what it's like to be a Marine during that event, what it's like to be a civilian in the city and what it's like to be an insurgent.
We expect this to be not the end of this unfolding drama. Now that the soldiers have given their seal of approval, would the opposition change their minds?
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