A Seattle-based development team is reviving a controversial project, where they plan to use a video game to tell the stories from the ground of one of the best-known battles of the Iraq War.
Six Days in Fallujah is described as a “first-person tactical military shooter,” based on information collected from U.S. veterans and Iraqi civilians who fought in and witnessed the Second Battle of Fallujah.
That conflict, which took place over the course of six weeks in late 2004 in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, was between U.S. coalition troops and a mixed force of insurgents from multiple organizations in Iraq, including Al-Qaeda. During the battle, Fallujah was considered one of the most dangerous urban combat theaters in U.S. military history.
The idea behind Six Days in Fallujah is to create a realistic first-person shooter as a sort of interactive historical document, employing the immersive nature of the medium and genre as a tool to help the player understand this particular moment in time. Six Days combines personal interviews, video footage, photographs, and gameplay, striving to be “the most authentic military shooter to date,” with the developers working alongside both military and civilian survivors of the conflict.
— Victura (@VicturaGG) February 11, 2021
The game started with a 2005 proposal by Eddie Garcia, a Marine sergeant who was wounded in the Second Battle of Fallujah. “Sometimes the only way to understand what’s true is to experience reality for yourself,” Garcia said in the initial press release. “Video games can help all of us understand real-world events in ways other media can’t.”
Six Days in Fallujah was subsequently announced in 2009 as an upcoming project by the Austin, Texas-based developer Atomic Games (Breach), with the Japanese company Konami attached as its publisher and funding partner. At the time, it was planned for a release on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.
It was controversial almost immediately. While a video game as a pseudo-historical reenactment wasn’t a new idea at the time—2009 was arguably at or near the height of the “lavishly detailed World War II shooter” genre, courtesy of franchises like Medal of Honor, which is why I remember the Battle of the Bulge better than I do my senior prom—Six Days was one of the first games, if not the first game, to try to realistically recapture a recent war.
(I was at the press event in California where the original game was initially announced. My takeaway at the time was that it was an interesting idea that the developers believed in wholeheartedly. However, it was also basically “Too Soon: The Game.”)
Shortly after its reveal, Six Days in Fallujah drew immediate criticism from both veterans and anti-war organizations, particularly in the UK. As a result, Konami dropped the game within a couple of weeks of its initial debut.
It went from having a place of pride in Konami’s annual Gamers’ Day exhibition, next to its other upcoming 2009 releases like Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, to being deliberately forgotten, all in the same month. Atomic Games went on to finish Six Days in Fallujah on its own, but wasn’t able to find a new publisher for it before the company effectively shut down in 2010.
However, Atomic Games was owned by another company, Destineer. That company, which specialized in porting games like Age of Empires II from the PC to Mac, was owned by Peter Tamte, a former executive at Bungie. Tamte’s current venture, Victura, is the publisher for the revival of Six Days in Fallujah. Going from what little Tamte has said about Victura in public, such as on his LinkedIn profile, Victura may have been founded specifically for the purpose of publishing Six Days. (At time of writing, Tamte has made himself unavailable for further comment on the subject.)
“It’s hard to understand what combat is actually like through fake people doing fake things in fake places,” Tamte wrote, in the press release Thursday that announced Six Days‘s return. “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 outdated stereotypes about what video games can be.”
With Atomic Games out of the picture, Victura has been quietly working on Six Days with the Seattle-based developer Highwire Games (Golem) for the last three years. Highwire, best-known for its PlayStation VR game Golem, is a development studio in Seattle led by veterans of the Halo and Destiny franchises, including lead designer Jaime Griesemer and audio designer Marty O’Donnell.
Six Days in Fallujah is scheduled for release on PC and consoles at an unspecified point later this year.