Games based on historical wars are incredibly popular. Series like Medal of Honor and Call of Duty have released a number of games that take place during World War II.
The development of these games, however, has to be handled with extreme care. That is especially true if based on more recent events like the Iraq War.
Six Days in Fallujah has been in development for over a decade. The game was initially set to be released in 2010. Atomic Games decided against releasing it following severe backlash.
One reason for the backlash is the high number of innocent civilians killed during the battle.
Noting that the troops were told to treat anyone on the ground as an enemy, Marine Ross Caputi explained, “These tactics were meant to keep us safe. But I learned later that tens of thousands of civilians were still hiding in their houses during the operation, so these tactics would have put them in a lot of danger. The hardship that Phantom Fury imposed on Fallujans and the destruction it caused made me feel really ashamed of what we were doing.”
Peter Tamte, the creator of Six Days in Fallujah, says it is meant to be part video game and part documentary. As to the controversy, he argues:
“It’s hard to understand what combat is actually like through fake people doing fake things in fake places. This generation showed sacrifice and courage in Iraq as remarkable as any in history. And now they’re offering the rest of us a new way to understand one of the most important events of our century. It’s time to challenge stereotypes about what games can be.”
Victura has remained vigilant about the chosen storytelling for the game, in March 2021 the company tweeted a statement regarding the game’s focus.
While Victura continues to defend the game’s focus, critics have come out in full force on Twitter.
And it’s not just Twitter, CNN talked to Najla Bassim Abdulelah, who grew up in the midst of the war. Abdulelah denies that the game is a good way to teach gamers about the bloody war that claimed the lives of innocent civilians.
“There are more respectful and credible ways to learn about what happened in Fallujah” she says, pointing to “news stories, books, and documentaries produced about the battle.”
Despite vocal critics, the game’s makers are hoping to release Six Days in Fallujah before the end of the year.