Six Days in Fallujah, that wargame that’s been a decade in the making, is back in the headlines again this week. A new bit of damage control from the studio, Victura, has people scratching their heads. Not because the statements are confusing, they’re just too transparently ahistorical and dumb for that. According to a newly released statement from Victura, Six Days in Fallujah and the events depicted are “inseparable from politics.” So what does that actually mean?
According to Victura, “26 Iraqi civilians and dozens of service members have shared the most difficult moments of their lives with us, so we can share them with you, in their words.” These perspectives are supposed to offer some fair and even-handed coverage of war crimes, apparently. How those perspectives are being warped by both bias and intentional meddling isn’t clarified. But, another earlier statement did clarify things.
The old becomes new
On February 15, Peter Tamte, who leads Victura, said in an interview with Polygon that Six Days in Fallujah would not be political. “We’re not trying to make a political commentary about whether or not the war itself was a good or a bad idea,” Tamte said.
I would say I hate to say this, but I don’t, war is political. The consequences of war and those victimized by it is a calculated decision made by those in positions of power. War is not something that just springs into people’s minds, it happens for a variety of reasons and is a direct consequence of societal tensions. There’s no way you can ignore that and be honest with yourself.
When you involve a project that had a history of being in bed with the military, that’s a direct injection of bias and intent. You want to whitewash these crimes, and you want gamers to be ignorant participants in their own propagandizing. The developer may feel that apathy somehow discounts blame for trying to alter the perception of history, but video games have been shown time and time again to be prime ground for jingoistic propaganda. Remember when Call of Duty landed in hot water for altering history around another US war crime? Was that not a political statement either, Victura? In case anyone forgot that; the story is that another jingoist series of games attempted to rewrite history, and then tried to deny all blame, much in the same way these statements do.
But with this new statement, they seem to acknowledge the flaw, but then say nothing else.
The game has been clarified as a mix of gameplay sections, which will be contextualized by some “documentary segments”. Presumably, they mean cutscenes that reframe the events to tell the narrative the developers have been paid to push, Otherwise known as propaganda. These segments will “discuss many tough topics, including the events and political decisions that led to the Fallujah battles as well as their aftermath.” The game will also discuss the use of white phosphorus, a banned chemical weapon.
So what does that mean? How will this game both avoid making a political statement that endorses a certain propagated view, while also not being political? Which is it? If war is bad, why make the game at all? If it’s good, why are you lying about your intent? The outcome of this project is either one or the other. And frankly, we all know that this game will be steeped in American exceptionalism, so why bother with the charade,