Konami's Fallujah game under fire

"Sick", "crass", "flippant"... fun?

Soldiers, fathers and peace groups have spoken out about Konami's controversial Six Days in Fallujah videogame, which retells a key battle of the 2004 Iraq conflict through the eyes of US marines.

"Considering the enormous loss of life in the Iraq War, glorifying it in a videogame demonstrates very poor judgement and bad taste," Reg Keys, whose son Thomas was killed by a mob in Iraq while serving as a Red Cap (military policeman), told the Daily Mail. "It is particularly crass when you consider what actually happened in Fallujah."

"These horrific events should be confined to the annuls of history, not trivialised and rendered for thrill-seekers to play out, over and over again, for ever more. Even worse, it could end up in the hands of a fanatical young Muslim and incite him to consider some form of retaliation or retribution. He could use it to get worked up and want to really finish the game.

"I will be calling for this game to be banned, if not worldwide then certainly in the UK," he said.

Tim Collins OBE, a former colonel famed for an eve-of-battle speech in 2003, agreed.

"It's much too soon to start making videogames about a war that's still going on, and an extremely flippant response to one of the most important events in modern history," he said. "It's particularly insensitive given what happened in Fallujah, and I will certainly oppose the release of this game."

Best-selling author and former SAS soldier Andy McNab, however, defended Six Days in Fallujah. War, he said, has been peddled as entertainment by the media for years.

Furthermore, he argued that the UK does not understand the Fallujah conflict in the same way as the Americans - a nation that lost "more soldiers [in Fallujah] than the whole of the British Army has in Iraq and Afghanistan combined".

"Culturally it is totally different in the US," McNab - a man with the powers of Jack Bauer and Ray Mears combined - told TechRadar.

"In America it is not as if this is 'shock horror' - everybody has been watching it on the news for the last seven years. The hypocrisy is in the fact that when the media wants a 'shock horror' story they will focus on something like this.

"In America a 90-year-old and a 12-year-old will know what happened at Fallujah. It's on the TV, there are books about it. The game is a natural extension to that; it is folklore. The only difference being that it is presented in a different medium.

"If the game stands up and offers Americans those soldiers' stories, then, why not?" he said.

Plus, added McNab, America's Army has been simulating real-life events for years, and really this is no different to "killing Nazis or drug dealers" in other games; games that he has seen soldiers playing on laptops while on tour in Basra. "Culturally they are more up for it," he concluded.

In direct contrast to his approach, however, was the Stop the War Coalition peace group, who said glorifying the Fallujah "massacre" is "sick".

"The massacre carried out by American and British forces in Fallujah in 2004 is amongst the worst of the war crimes carried out in an illegal and immoral war," spokesperson Tansy E Hoskins told TechRadar. "It is estimated that up to 1,000 civilians died in the bombardment and house-to-house raids carried out by invading troops. So many people were killed in Fallujah that the town's football stadium had to be turned into a cemetery to cope with all the dead bodies.

"There is nothing to celebrate in the death of people resisting an unjust and bloody occupation. To make a game out of a war crime and to capitalise on the death and injury of thousands is sick.

"There will never be a time when it is appropriate for people to play at committing atrocities," added Tansy. "The massacre in Fallujah should be remembered with shame and horror not glamorised and glossed over for entertainment."

Predictable arguments from different sectors, perhaps. But what does Konami have to say for itself?

Vice president Anthony Crouts told the Wall Street Journal that Konami was "not trying to make a social commentary".

"We're not pro-war," he added. "We're not trying to make people feel uncomfortable. We just want to bring a compelling entertainment experience... At the end of the day, it's just a game."

Six Days in Fallujah is in development at Atomic Games and will be released next year in the US. There are no platforms mentioned yet, but PC, 360 and PS3 look likely. UK plans are yet to be announced.

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