Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My question about the Fallujah game hubbub

The pop culture news that has intrigued me most over the last couple of days is the coverage of Konami's plans for a video game about U.S. military action in Iraq: "Six Days in Fallujah.'' delivered an excellent outline of the controversy that started percolating. Read that synopsis and pay particular attention to this: People objecting to the game are quoted as referring to the war in Iraq being trivialized, as characterizing the concept as flippant, and as being upset over a "massacre" becoming entertainment.

To me, there is an obvious tone that is dismissive about a video game in a way that we'd be unlikely to hear if "Six Days in Falljuh'' were going to be a movie, play or even, say, a graphic novel. Sure, this is pure conjecture on my part. But I think that much of the criticism of video games comes on two levels: There's always a specific flash point -- in this case, the Iraq factor -- and then there's also an underlying (and wrongheaded) contempt for video games as being without artistic or social value.

You think?


  1. I agree, the same thought has passed through my head multiple times over the last few days as I've seen reactions to "Falljah". No one complains about the movie "Black Hawk Down" and accuses it of 'trivializing' the event for entertainment. At least, no one that I know. Rather they recognize its mature approach to the subject and artful handling as a tribute to those involved.

    However, something like "Falljah" is slated to be a video game and the media is up in arms, chanting rhetoric that, when boiled down, amounts to little more then a schoolyard cry of 'but only I'm allowed to do that!' which, through the mirror, shows their general lack of maturity that they seem to be accusing games of having.

    Games are capable of being merely entertaining or artful masterpieces of deep thought, just as movies, books or television can be. For one industry to accuse another of trivializing a page of history without regards to the actual product, simply on the basis of dislike for the industry in question, is immature.

    "Falljah" has a chance to be as meaningful for gamers as "Black Hawk Down" was for movie watchers. If Konami were to trivialize it, I would understand the public's reaction, but not even giving them a chance to back up their claim is shameful.

  2. Well said, I think, particularly in light, as you note in closing, of how premature the nastiness is

  3. I've been watching the TV show "Rescue Me" on It is about a bunch of firemen dealing with their lives post 9/11.

    There have been a few posts in the comment sections where people have asked something to the effect of, I wonder how Firemen and the families of those who lost their lives feel about this show.

    The show is not kind either. I'm up to the beginning of season 3 and man it is tearing me up.

    Anyway, nothing much more to add to what you said except that those comments also made me think of the Falljah game and then to how this wouldn't be a big deal if it was any other media.

  4. It is an interesting debate and does show a generation gap – mostly because you have quite a few in the mainstream media, not being gamers in any way, still in some respects viewing games like they are for kids. All the newspapers in the UK that I see do not have an adequate games review section in say comparison to film or music reviews – probably one or two short reviews and that is it. With games now much more widespread than ever before I can see this changing.

    Throw in a subject that will provoke controversy (US forces are still serving in Iraq) and you have a backlash brew ready to boil!

    Good to see it is being talked about, hopefully games will start to encroach in an area films, books and music have occupied and will be taken more seriously.