Thursday, October 2, 2014

By Jamaal Ryan

I want to get ahead of this discussion because I can see it coming.

Today, Ubisoft revealed a trailer lavishly showing off its variety of weapons in their upcoming shooter, Far Cry 4. It shows an impressive array of sizzling auto rifles, punchy explosives, cringe-worthy crossbows, and weaponized wildlife. It certainly looks to be the follow up we both wanted and expected to Far Cry 3. Also in the video, we’re introduced to who is presumed to be your go-to weapons dealer, an assumed African native that’s seems to be infatuated with firearms. This, I can see, can cause some stirs.

Far Cry 3’s criticisms entered around the upswing of the advocacy of social representation, calling for more gender, racial, and sexual orientation diversity. The game’s vacationing-gone-wrong narrative was, if nothing else, sophomoric in its execution and grandiose in its vision, thus creating some unsettling interpretations of the depiction of our protagonist’s interactions with the island’s natives. That stench lingered for quite some time. And while ignored, a simple cover art for its sequel, Far Cry 4, was enough to re-ignite the uproar, offering a platform for new accusations of colonial racism. While I very much understood where this was coming from, I attempted to rationalize the debate by looking at the game’s – then – rumored lead character, the depiction of Pagan Min, and the creative minds behind Far Cry 4.

The flames have largely been doused, with the background of Pagan Min revealed, and the intentions of the script writers themselves. However after today, we may see this discussion again.

The terms “race” and “Far Cry” are well acquainted, and not in a good way unfortunately. Because of this, I couldn’t help but pay more attention to the weapons’ dealer’s accent than I did to the gameplay footage itself. This could be easily justified as an expected circumstance of being set in the Himalayan region, not too far from Africa.

“But what about a Black guy selling you guns?”

Yes. That certainly could generate suspicion as well, since Black characters in video games, from FF VII’s Barret to FF XIII’s Sazh (and almost everything in between), have often been associated with guns. The illustration reinforces the stereotype that is heavily influenced by America’s gang culture, and draws the assumption that Blacks are predisposed to violence; particularly gun violence. Here, we very well see a Black man who is enjoying the business of arms dealing.

By and large, it’s a simple 2-and-a-half minute video, whose purpose is to solely show off the ballistic action that emerges from Far Cry 4’s many, many guns. And regardless where you stand, it looks like a hell of a lot of fun.

But for some, this video game be a sliver of foreshadowing, an irritant for the sore spot that is Far Cry’s controversial past. However as I’ve emphasized before, hold your convictions until November 18th.

Image courtesy of Lightning Gaming News 

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