As evidenced by the large portion of the 2009 Gamer's Night presentation Konami devoted to it, Six Days in Fallujah, the upcoming third-person action game based on the Iraq War's second battle of Fallujah, is clearly a very big deal for the publisher. Light on actual footage, the segment was focused on the high level of realism and accuracy its developer hopes to instill the title with. Just how accurate? That's what we wanted to find out, so, along with fellow bloggers, we sat down with Atomic Games president Peter Tamte, creative director Juan Benito and US Marine Corps Corporal Michael Ergo, a veteran of the battle and adviser on the game.
You've said you have Marine veterans who fought in the battle actually working on the title. How exactly?
Tamte: It's important for us to say, you know, that there are actually three communities that are very affected by the battle for Fallujah. Certainly the Marines. Certainly the Iraqi civilians within Fallujah, and the insurgents as well. We are actually getting contributions from all three of those communities so that we can get the kind of insight we're trying to get.
When you say insurgents are "contributing," what do you mean, exactly?
Tamte: I need to be careful about the specifics that I give. There's a much broader context to that. I should answer it this way: I think all of us are curious to know why they were there. The insurgents [came from] different countries. And I think we're all kind of curious about you know - they went there knowing that they were going to die, many of them knew that they were going to die, and they went there to die. And I think that that's a perspective that we
should all understand.
"Insurgents are involved in the creation of the game as well, as are Iraqi civilians."
Tamte: They're involved in the creation of the game as well, as are Iraqi civilians. That's important to us. It's true. The game -- the influences for the game came from the Marines that returned from Fallujah. But quite frankly in talking with them, it's um, many people would just like this to be a recreation and we can't recreate that without getting the perspectives of all the people who were involved.
It was mentioned during the presentation that 47 Marines are working with you.
Tamte: The number of people between Marines, Iraqis and Insurgents are over 47 at this point.
How exactly are the soldiers contributing to the game? You've mentioned maps and battle plans, but do they point to a place on the map and say, "This went down right here?"
Benito: Absolutely. In certain cases we've recreated the battles and engagements of the Marines involved to an extremely high level of detail. Including incorporating some of the Marines who were there at the time during the operation in the location that they were in. And you as a Marine can experience an interact with them and fight right alongside them in the actual event in which they were fighting in the battle of Fallujah.
So the actual troops who are advising you will be in the game? Will you be there? [to Corporal Ergo]
Ergo: It's possible.
Tamte: You will interact with Marines who were in Fallujah in those particular locations.
Benito: We've scanned and recreated their faces and replicated [them] and put them in the game.
Would you say the game is actually going to be "fun"?
Tamte: 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.
"People will have their own individual reactions and those will be across the board. That's what we want."
Ergo: 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.
Will players encounter situations like friendly fire or accidentally shooting civilians?
Benito: We wanted to recreate the pressures and conditions the Marines faced and that includes adhering to the proper rules of engagement. So for example, as you may have seen in the demo, there's an unarmed individual at the start and the Marines didn't fire on him because he was unarmed and that was in accord to the rules of engagement at the time.
It's not about the politics of whether the US should have been there or not. It is really about the stories of the Marines.
Tamte: Well, what we're trying to do is recreate the stories of the Marines that we've spoken with and that are involved in the creation. And we're telling those stories of those particular Marines. None of the items that you've mentioned have come up in any of those stories.
Ergo: [Responding to Tamte] That would be accurate to my experience. I never saw any of that.
Benito: It's also important to note that the vast majority of the civilian population was displaced out of the city for weeks prior to the battle. So there were a very small number of civilians who will be part of the experience. We do it in accord to what we have uncovered in our own research.
Tamte: As we've watched the dialog that's taken place about the game, there is definitely one point that we want people to understand about the game. And that is, it's not about the politics of whether the US should have been there or not. It is really about the stories of the Marines who were in Fallujah and the question, the debate about [the politics], that is something that something for the politicians to worry about. We're focused now on what actually happened on the ground.