The Creators of Six Days in Fallujah Think We’re Fucking Morons

And they're absolutely marketing to us this way.

I remember being at an Iraq protest when I was in high school. It wasn’t anything so organized that people took it seriously, just some teenagers with signs and attitudes and, it turns out, the forethought to be on the right side of history. Cars honked, some threw things, most just drove by, numb to the discourse around the whole war already. One car, a pick-up truck with a “Sonny Lied” bumper sticker with text on top of a confederate flag, pulled over near us and a large man stomped toward our little group eager to deliver a one-sided, spittle-laden rant.

Behind a pair of aviator sunglasses and underneath a disheveled baseball cap, he proceeded to explain that kids simply do not understand the ways of the world and to let the people in charge, the people making decisions, decide how best to proceed. Somewhere inside him, he thought the best way to fight this battle was to tell people their thoughts were not their own, the things they see and hear were not fathomable by their minds, and to simply believe the last thing they heard rather than the totality of it.

For Six Days in Fallujah, an upcoming first-person shooter chronicling an abridged tale of a week-long battle in US-occupied Iraq, the publisher and the developer are possessed by the spirit of that 20-year-old discourse. They seemingly think that, as long as they talk out of both sides of their mouths, people will be too confused to look too closely at what they’re actually saying.

Last month, the game’s publisher Victura held interviews with gaming publications like Polygon and Gamesindustry.biz for CEO Peter Tamte to make the argument for Six Days in Fallujah’s revival after a decade. The move was, by any measure, ill-advised. Tamte argued that the game was a realistic narrative based on the record of the war, but also selectively chose which aspects he would add in and which were relegated to the bin of controversy that he deigned not to touch.

“There are things that divide us, and including those really divisive things, I think, distracts people from the human stories that we can all identify with,” Tamte ostensibly told Polygon, but it would not completely shock me if he were simply saying it to himself as a personal mantra.

“Players need that context to understand why they’re in the city fighting those Al-Qaeda people,” Tamte said to Gamesindustry.biz. “We are going to provide that context, but keep in mind that we can provide that context without making a political statement, or without in any way disparaging the service of those who are actually there to fight.”

Tamte, in his own bumbling way, is attempting to convince the audience of a syllogism: Controversy is born of differing political views, we say this game is bereft of politics, thus it is not controversial.

It’s a smart grift assuming you can’t see the pair of shoes behind the curtain, which is where Tamte erred. The phrase “We’re not making a political statement” is always worthy of an eyeroll, but rarely is it given any more furor than that. Attempting to make a game about the Iraq War, perhaps one of the most consequential political events of the last two decades, and trying to ride the same waves of Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry, is like trying to force feed the audience a baby grand piano.

Which, on its own, is marketing. There’s big lies and little lies and hopeful attempts to duck the worst of what the discourse around your game will be. Perhaps, had Tamte left it at this, the game would be seen as deceptive. I am not sure, however, you can expect the people who revived Six Days in Fallujah to leave anything well enough alone, as the publisher’s Twitter account proved today.

“We understand the events recreated in Six Days in Fallujah are inseparable from politics,” the tweet  begins.

The entire statement seems to exist in an alternate reality from Tamte’s interviews, actively conflicting with what he outright stated. It begs multiple questions including: Is Tamte being corrected? What about all the other things he said? Why did he say things that simply do not agree with this most recent statement?

None of these answers are given by the Victura Twitter account, which dropped the statement and then went radio silent. To me, it is an echo of a past age, of people playing cheerleader into one microphone and mumbling about the somber and necessary grimness into another. They’re hoping you are confused enough to not question it. They’re hoping that the people pre-inclined to support them now have a statement to point to when the conflicting statement is brought up.

They’re asking you not to believe what you see or what you hear and telling you that they know better.

I don’t know what Six Days in Fallujah is going to be about when it eventually releases. Honestly, some part of me would just rather not care. Victura is not the first publisher to seek to propagandize war, though they may be notable for doing it so badly. What I do know is that the marketing clearly thinks the audience is easily placated and even more easily distracted.

Whether or not the game turns out to be good is immaterial. You cannot claim honesty and mislead an audience at the same time.

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Imran Khan

Imran is Fanbyte's News Editor and owns too many gaming t-shirts.

3 Comments

  1. Look at them capitalizing “marine” and “soldier” like they are gods. I have a pretty good guess where their side is

    1. I’m almost certain that the US Army actually enforces this, particularly the “Soldier” one. Came about when the War on Terror kicked off. So of course the guys who are making a US military propaganda game are eager to do right by their ultimate masters.

  2. Beautifully put Imran. I aspire to do what you do. And holding those accountable who bend their truth to fit their narrative is gross and needs to be called out.

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