If a game based on a real and recent battle needs to be accurate, can it -- and must it -- be fun? Konami gave reporters some answers.
During what I'm told was a joint Kotaku/Joystiq interview with the developers of "Six Days In Fallujah" out in San Francisco last week, a reporter asked if Konami's upcoming historical video game was supposed to be fun.
It's a fair question given the pains the developers have made to tell the press that this game is rooted in real combat. Marines who fought in the Iraq War battle upon which it is based are being consulting for the project, representatives from the development studio Atomic Games, have told reporters. The developers also say that Iraqi civilians and insurgents associated with the fight have somehow been consulted as well.
Turning a real and recent fight into a video game has angered some people. Veterans of the war are among those who have expressed outrage about the game. But the creators have maintained that they are treating the subject matter with respect.
Still, it is a game. Therefore, must it be fun if it's going to be any good?
Here's the answer provided by the game's creators, from a Joystiq chronicle of the interview:
Interviewer: Would you say the game is actually going to be "fun"?
Peter Tamte, president of development studio Atomic Games: The words I would use to describe the game -- first of all, it's compelling. And another word I use -- insight. There are things that you can do in video games that you cannot do in other forms of media. And a lot of that has to do with presenting players with the dilemmas that the Marines saw in Fallujah and then giving them the choice of how to handle that dilemma. And I think at that point, you know -- when you watch a movie, you see the decisions that somebody else made. But when you make a decision yourself, then you get a much deeper level of understanding.
Juan Benito, creative director: And that's a really important point because we recreate the events as factually and as accurately as we possibly can. And there will be a broad range of reactions and opinions on the experience itself. And for some, they may have fun. They may enjoy it. We are recreating and presenting these events and people, I think, will have their own individual reactions to it and those will be across the board. And that's what we want. We want people to experience something that's going to challenge them, that's going to make them think and provide an unprecedented level of insight into a great military significance.
Corporal Michael Ergo, United States Marin Corps and (according to Joystiq) a veteran of the battle and adviser on the game: It's an all-encompassing experience. There were a lot of times that were intense, there were a lot of times that were boring. I went on patrol and we adopted a puppy. There's so many things that go into my experience in Fallujah that there's no one word that encompasses that.
Even those who support a game based on the 2004 US battle in Fallujah, Iraq might not say such a game should be fun. But good games are generally thought to be fun games. It is hard to imagine a satisfying video game that is not fun.
The question of fun-ness, of a creative work's ability to amuse, is not one that need be asked about every book or every movie. But the critics and the supporters of "Six Days In Fallujah" will likely have to confront this issue. It does need to be asked of something that is considered a "game": should "Six Days In Fallujah" be fun?