By Jamaal Ryan
Have you heard anyone recently still complaining about Far Cry 4 being racist? Nah, me neither.
After the confirmation during and after E3 that Far Cry 4 wasn’t the colonialist story of brute force racism everyone accused it for being, the conversation evaporated. We found out that Far Cry 4’s main protagonist, Ajay Ghale, was a native of the fictional Kyrat returning home to spread his mother’s ashes across their home country. Not white. Not a colonialist.
Though the creative direction is being led by Alex Hutchinson, who’s already proven his social taste in being the creative lead on Assassins Creed 3, the writers behind Far Cry 4 were well aware of the criticisms of Far Cry 3. In a recent Playstation event reported by Polygon, script writer C.J. Kershner stated that, "We were aware of the discussions happening about Far Cry 3. People identified some problems."
Far Cry 3 sold tremendously well, well enough for Ubisoft to quickly continue the franchise only two years later. Whereas Jason Brody was a white young male vacationing in a later to be discovered pirate infested tropical island and was then solely responsible for saving these seemingly aboriginals from their other, more savage halves, Far Cry 4 is a story of a native born refugee returning home. The difference in narrative tone wasn’t because sales were underwhelming, it was because a fair minded creative team listened to the public.
I spoke before about the importance of expressing ones opinion within the context of Far Cry 4, highlighting the influence that it can have on the creative process. While the notion of “voting with your wallet” is effective in letting the publishers and developers know that something didn’t work, it’s not enough to pinpoint the problem. Generating a discussion on what doesn’t sit well with you creates context within criticism, giving game makers something tangible to fix and improve.
Seeing a big name publisher title move from a narratively impaired, but mechanically impressive shooter, to (developing into) an even more interesting experience from both a story and gameplay perspective, is a reassuring sign that game makers are listening. So keep talking.