When Six Days in Fallujah was announced a few weeks ago, it received considerable backlash for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons were valid (“It’s too soon for a war game in Iraq,” “It could be disrespectful to soldiers”), others were not (“Games are only for escapism”), but what surprised me the most was the amount of backlash from gamers for the regenerating health system.
I admit that regenerating health is out of place in a game that’s supposed to be realistic, but also I think the word “realistic” has been unfairly applied to Six Days in Fallujah. The word “realistic” creates (ironically) unrealistic expectations for a mass-market war game. Gamers now expect their avatar to die easily; after all, it often doesn’t take more than one bullet to kill someone in real life so it shouldn’t take more than one bullet to kill our avatar. However, this kind of one-hit kill system would make the game dangerously difficult, and because of its broad intended audience, Six Days in Fallujah has to be accessible to all gamers. The subject matter itself is guaranteed to limit sales, so why further that with punishing gameplay? Concessions to reality must be made for playability. At least that’s the argument the developer made, but I believe the case for regenerating health goes beyond mere accessibility.