Six Days in Fallujah Interview
Can a war crime be turned into a video game?
Over a decade ago, a first-person shooter called Six Days in Fallujah caused a bit of a stir. It was supposed to be an authentic adaptation of the battles that took place in Fallujah during the Iraq war, and the game met heavy criticism because the conflict was still on-going and many considered the US military action in Fallujah an atrocity, or even a war crime.
Konami decided to put the project on ice, but after developer Atomic Games went bankrupt, Highwire Games finished the game, which will be published by Victura. We talk to Victura's CEO Peter Tamte about Six Days in Fallujah and why the game is still relevant over a decade later.
Daily Bits: What led to Six Days in Fallujah’s resurgence?
Peter Tamte: Two things — First, these Marines and Soldiers shared remarkable and very personal stories with me that I thought many people would want to experience, and I felt I had let these Marines and Soldiers down when the game got cancelled in 2009. Second, I remain offended that people inside and outside our industry believe videogames are not qualified to tackle real-life, controversial events. I believe we have a responsibility to use what's unique about our medium to help people understand the events that are shaping our world in the same way film helped people understand WWII and TV helped people understand Vietnam. Every other form of media is about watching what someone else does. Six Days in Fallujah asks you to solve these challenges for yourself. It doesn't do this through a fictional avatar you may not care about. It does this through real people who you will see on camera and understand their stories.
Daily Bits: Many thought videogames were the wrong medium for exploring the war in Iraq when Six Days in Fallujah was announced in 2009. Do you think the game will remain controversial today?
Peter Tamte: I think games like The Last of Us and God of War have shown that videogames can be more than toys. But, ultimately, many people simply don't want any stories about the Iraq War told through any format. So, there will be pushback.
Daily Bits: Ganes have changed considerably over the last decade. Games like Spec Ops: The Line have shown that games can present a nuanced picture of contemporary wars. Has Six Days in Fallujah changed too? If so, how?
Peter Tamte: The story is told similarly to what is in our trailer. Players will meet the real people in the story through brief interview clips in which they give players context into the situation and what they were thinking at the time. Then, players will face the encounter they just saw described in the interview. We've spent more than three years building special technologies that will make the combat experience more like what these Marines and Soldiers described. We'll be talking about these more in the coming weeks.
Daily Bits: Who is the target audience? Will anyone be able to enjoy the game, or will it be most interesting to players with an interest in and understanding of the conflict?
Peter Tamte: I think most of us are curious what it's really like to be in combat and how we would do. Our first priority is to present this combat experience more realistically than other military shooters have so far, and this is best enabled through unique technologies. Getting this mix of technology and experience right is what has taken us 3.5 years so far.
Daily Bits: What do you hope players learn from Six Days in Fallujah? What should they expect from the experience?
Peter Tamte: I hope players will gain a new understanding of the complexity and human cost of urban combat. I also hope players will gain empathy for the difficult challenges Marines, Soldiers, and Iraqi civilians faced, and I hope getting to know these remarkable people, and how they think about these challenges, will be inspirational to the rest of us.
Daily Bits: Finally, when will you show the game in action?
Peter Tamte: We plan to reveal a gameplay demonstration sometime during the coming weeks.
Six Days in Fallujah is scheduled to launch on PC and consoles later this year, and we are curious to see how it turns out. Thanks to Peter Tamte for taking the time to talk to us, and we will keep an eye on Six Days in Fallujah as it gets closer to release.